A virtual street for everyone to speak

Parachute Media’s logo. Nihari Chandra/Courtesy

Before it was March, almost everyone was out protesting or making signs and just heading out to march. Now, quarantine hit and took a toll on many as it is hard to understand what exactly is there to speak out about. However, Parachute Media, a new and upcoming news media outlet is working to change that narrative and prove to people that being at home is an even better way to protest than outside. 

“I know so many of my friends who would be out every weekend protesting about something, whether it’s the ocean or civil rights, there was something protested,” said Jourdan Cerillo, Parachute’s managing editor. “Nowadays, people are in that slump and are like, ‘I’m at home what can I do, nothing,’ and that is so wrong because there is actually more that you can do.”

Those are the values Parachute was founded on. The site aims to give a platform and show people they can make their own platform too. 

Parachute Media has two pages: Instagram and a newsletter on Linktree, each consisting of news, up and coming issues and anything for life and beauty.

“This was started for and by women and nonbinary people of color,” said Nihari Chandra, one of the contributors and one of the founders of Parachute Media. “You see on the news, so many voices are taken away, and there isn’t much room or focus for women. Especially during this quarantine period, there is so much going on, but there is very little place for people to voice the issues.”

Each of Parachute’s platforms is a very unique experience when opened. With the sites ranging from tutorials, do it yourself tutorials, news, business ventures but their most popular and most prominent, are protests.

As a news outlet, Parachute Media does cover many breaking news and general news topics as well. Parachute took a different approach in hopes of their following remembering them for not turning into cliche news. 

“You open our Instagram, and you don’t see a photo of the protests, you see a drawing,” said Elizabeth Williams, the creative director at Parachute Media. “All of our topics for news have drawings, not photos, and that’s all done on purpose. We ask our contributors or reporters at the scene to instead of snapping a picture, we ask them to draw it.” 

This new outlet wants their followers and viewers to see these issues and understand them. The point of a protest is to fight for what the individual believes in, Parachute captures that by making their reporters draw so that viewers feel empathetic and actually see what went on in the picture but from another’s eyes. 

What stands Parachute out from other media sites is a virtual protest. Especially with the COVID-19 situation, the media site has taken it into their own advantage. Viewers are meant to direct message the page on topics they feel are protest-worthy and the page will make sure it is known. 

“Think of us as your virtual street,” said Emily Pascale, the art director for Parachute Media. “That was what I told the team when it came to designing the page. I want us to be a mock street.” 

This site understands how confusing a situation COVID019 is. However, that does not mean the turtles cannot be saved, just because a beach is closed and no clean ups or marches are possible. Parachute won’t let that happen, activists can send a picture of a sign or anything related to what you want to fight for and 100% it will be shown on the outlet’s page.

The media page has a focus on covering news and topics related to people of color and minorities. Some examples are black-owned businesses, elections from a person of color’s eyes or life as an LGBTQ as a minority. While not shadowing other issues, the focus is to cover topics that are not always on the news. 

“You go on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CNBC, any news outlet, and how many stories do you see about what’s happening in any of the third world countries,” Chandra said. “They probably cover it for maybe two minutes, and then we see CNN putting breaking news for every little thing someone in the Whitehouse does. ISIS attacked in Vienna, but none of the media outlets talked about it because it was the pre-election week.” 

Parachute will cover anything down to Native American owned start up business of paper plate made dream catchers. Nothing is not news for this site, everything will be covered and everyone will be heard.

However, Parachute is not limited to just as a news outlet. While also covering many news topics, the media page also includes various DIYs, fashion advice, makeup or skincare tutorials and even general advice. 

“Parachute was founded in September, and since then, our motto has always been to never limit voices,” said Chantal Vaca, the section editor at Parachute Media. “The whole concept of Parachute is broken down into five sections: life, news, advice, beauty and protests. The first three are probably pretty self-explanatory, but our protest topic is my favorite.”

The protest concept has been used by all 3,000 followers from Parachute’s Instagram page. Followers have started live stories, videos, pictures and took this platform Parachute gave and turned into their very own stage. 

With over 3,000 followers and more than 289 posts, the media outlet does live up to what they say. Almost every post is an inclusion of an issue created by one of their followers. Meghana Dhawan was one of the devoted followers who took part. 

Dhawan sent out a story to Parachute about an issue with discrimination on her college campus. The media outlet saw it and made sure it was included on both public platforms the media source had. 

“I cannot begin to tell you how many pages I have DMed and not one replied or even opened my message,” Dhawan said. “It confused me, like CNN posts peoples’ stories but didn’t see mine, luckily Parachute saw mine.” 

All activists want to be heard, the followers of a page or views of a page do not matter. At the end of the day, it is that people have seen their fight, support them and want them to be heard to more people. With this concept and belief, millions of followers is not far for Parachute.

“We are an inclusive media brand for and by Gen Z women of color,” said Sneha Shah, the social media contributor at Parachute Media. “Not to be racist or demeaning in any way, but if you go through our Instagram you will not find a single white person. Again, this is not to be racist, this is just to show what we are about.”

As the social media contributor, Shah recognizes the issues of diversity in many media outlets. Therefore, she made sure that when developing Parachute Media, the issue of diversity is the focus point. 

“Countless other news platforms cover enough white people,” Shah said. “We want our Instagram page to focus on shedding light on the Native Americans, Indians, Asian, Hispanic, etcetera. We want those who are maybe 5-15% to be seen 100% by us.”

As Shah mentioned, Parachute’s feed mainly covers issues and pictures of people of color. However, this still does not mean that it is only meant for certain people. Not many know about the day to day lives of Native Americans, the life of a Guatemalan or even know about what a life is like for a teenage illegal immigrant girl. 

This startup media’s goal is to shed light on people who did not get the opportunity to be in the light. 

“We still have a lot of posts with white people, but our focus is towards people of color,” Shah said. “What I mean by this is that if someone who is white has an issue, they want to protest or is doing something we find interesting, of course, we will post it. What we aim to cover up to date info on what Native Americans or Guatemalans or what the Philippines are going through.”

There is no discrimination at Parachute, whetherr your from Ireland, Tibet or Hungary, Parachute aims to be an inclusive news outlet for all. 

“Nobody likes to be silenced or left out, especially as a girl,” Cerillo said. “While we do want to be news, we want to also be a stage where everyone can be vocal. Too many races have been shunned, ignored or just looked past and that’s not ok and while we may not be as popular, we still want everyone, even whoever is living in Antarctica, to know that we want you heard and we will make sure you are.”

Especially during the pandemic this media source’s goal is to make sure every individual is out of their quarantine slump. 

“Everyone has been in that COVID depression, I know I have, and I am still getting out of it, but it still is no excuse,” Cerillo said. “There are so many issues that deserve to be fought, and if we stand idle, it will remain as unjust as it wants to be. Our ultimate goal is to become a popular news outlet where kids can use us to write their papers but also use us if they feel an issue they find out isn’t right.”

Parachute Media does charities, tutorials, protests and much more, with each funded and popularized by their followers and fans. 

“We do virtual protests on zoom or live or on our posts, we do charities, we do it all,” Shah said. “We want people to follow suit and realize now is more perfect of a time than ever to not be idle. Parachute wants to prove that COVID is not an excuse to be silent.”

With many instances and stories about racial and feministic issues coming to light, Parachute took that as inspiration and developed a popular platform for many people. COVID-19 is not an excuse in Parachute’s books, if anything it should be all the more reason to get up and start the day by voicing what’s been bugging that mind last night.