About a year ago, Rahim Jessani had the idea to start a podcast after the sudden death of his long-time role model, Kobe Bryant.
According to Jessani, co-founder of The Unfortunate Truth (TUT) and MCAS ’23, Bryant’s message of inspiring others and creating a legacy beyond oneself kick-started Jessani’s year-long media and reporting journey.
“I wanted to do something beyond myself,” he said. “Something for the world.”
The Instagram account has since been popping up on the screens of many Boston College students’ feeds, and Jessani said in an interview with The Heights that he has dedicated the last year of his life to providing news based on facts and reality.
“TUT’s purpose is to cover what you aren’t seeing on the front page of newspapers and on CNN or FOX,” Jessani said. “Through platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and our own website, we try our best to cover the topics that aren’t being discussed enough, but we deem necessary for the public to know.”
The outlet covers topics ranging from the farmers’ protest in India, to the Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in China, to the case for D.C. statehood.
Bryant’s death was the spark, Jessani’s frustration with the age of disinformation was a factor, but Netflix’s cancellation of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj made it personal, he said.
As a member of the South Asian community, Jessani said that the show’s cancellation was the final factor in his decision.
“I had the motivation to start this,” Jessani said. “I had the motivation to do something beyond myself. I had the problem. Then getting it into the real world was all I had left to do, and from this, The Unfortunate Truth was born.”
TUT is different from some other media outlets seen on Twitter and Instagram feeds, Jessani said, due to its fact-checking process.
“Everything is fact-checked by academia, professors, and not checked by other media outlets …,” Jessani said. “We as college students have direct access to the smartest minds in their fields … We have resources right in front of us. Thus 100 percent of our content is consulted by professionals in the academic field.”
Jessani said that he bases his choices of what media to cover on asking the right questions, not proving already-established facts.
“For example, I will never put out an episode attempting to prove climate change,” Jessani said. “We must face the facts, and climate change’s existence has already been proven fact. My team and I are not going to waste our time on that. However, if you want TUT to cover how climate change is affecting a certain sector of the human population, that is something we would be interested in factually covering.”
Jessani said that he has a team of eight other full-time college students working for him, one of them being his best friend and TUT’s Chief of Staff Kris Iacobelli, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
“I believed in Rahim, and I knew he had the potential to make this a big thing, so I joined him in June,” Iacobelli said. “We call each other every day at noon, hop onto Canva, and generate that day’s post.”
As a native Floridian himself, most of Jessani’s team is based at UCF, but Jessani hopes to begin opening chapters at schools like the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Miami.
“If you genuinely want to make a difference, join my team,” Jessani said. “This is a ground-up movement. We can all make a difference and change each others’ lives, it just takes stepping up to the plate and finding those little moments that make what you’re doing worth it. It’s hard to grasp at first, but it takes work to make this world better, it’s not gonna just become better on its own, and that is the real unfortunate truth.”
Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / For The Heights