Young journalist makes his mark on the Toledo scene
It would be very surprising to us if you hadn’t yet heard of Jaden Jefferson, the eleven-year-old YouTube sensation who has over 5,000 followers on his channel, Jaden Reports Now. Since his high profile interview with Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren two months ago, Jefferson’s popularity as a burgeoning broadcast journalist has skyrocketed with an appearance on Ellen and, most recently, a celebrity hot dog signing.
We sat down with Jefferson after that momentous occasion at the Original Tony Packo’s, where he was surrounded by reporters. The Maumee Valley Country Day School student was also honored at this year’s Touchstone Awards with a Toledo Press Club membership. He had lots to say about his experience out in the field covering Toledo’s latest news.
How did you feel when you found out you’d be getting to sign a Tony Packo’s hot dog to be put on display in the restaurant?
It was really exciting. You know, I felt like I was finally becoming invested in the community. It’s just an honor because Tony Packo’s has been a part of Toledo for the longest, and I’m proud to be a part of that legacy.
What prompted you to interview Elizabeth Warren, and how has that interview changed your life?
She was having an event in Toledo, and I had to get an interview. I did it, and it definitely changed my life for the better. It’s good to know that there are a lot of people out there rooting for me and that people are finally acknowledging my reporting. I’m really glad to be doing what I love.
How long have you been doing your YouTube channel?
Maybe five years or so. It wasn’t always for reporting, but I finally made the change to reporting, and I definitely get a lot of views and comments on it.
How many followers do you have?
On Twitter I have 22.4 thousand.
What are your career goals? Do you want to continue with broadcast journalism?
Yes, definitely. I’m planning on sticking with this for the remainder.
How do you balance school and work? Is it difficult?
At times. It’s never really a lot because I don’t get a lot of homework. When I don’t have a lot of homework, I’ll either take some time to relax or go out to the field and cover a big story.
What’s your favorite story you’ve ever covered?
That’s hard. I’ve covered a lot of stories here in Toledo. I would definitely say the one with Elizabeth Warren because a lot of people watched it and it changed my life.
What was it like getting to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show?
Ellen is kind, down-to-earth, and funny. She’s such a good person— always giving— she’s really changing the world.
Your grandma is the one who drives you around. How did she get involved?
My brother was doing a volunteer event, and I thought I’d try out this reporter thing. I had her hold the camera because I didn’t have a tripod or any of the equipment I have now. It went from her holding the camera to managing transportation and things like that.
Are there any journalists who you look up to?
There are a lot of them. Many of them are in this room. The local media has been so supportive of what I do. Every time I’m out on a story, there are always people out in the local media that help me out. There are so many mentors in Toledo news.