Snapchat; the Future of 24hr News.

In the 21st century, more people are turning to phones over TV for news. Which is challenging the traditional format of local and national live news broadcasting.

Snapchat “has given us access to places that we would never have had before and has allowed us to tell stories in a far more discrete and intimate manner,” Yusuf Omar said to IBTimes UK about using Snapchat to report on sexual abuse and undercover drug searches. (1)

Snapchat is an app where users take pictures, videos, or text to send to their friends. Over the last few years the app has been constantly evolving. Before, users could only send up to 10 seconds worth of content that could only be viewed for a limited amount of time. If the sender wanted to add text to the Snap they’d have to be clever on what they wanted to say because It was very limiting for fonts types, sizes and location of text.

Now, in 2017, Snapchat has completely changed. It now has stories, maps, and funny face filters to us on our friends. In 2013 they added a feature that could become a journalist’s best friend. This is the “Story”. The story allows the user to add 10 second clips and pictures to build a story live as they go. These are added one at a time and appear in the order that they were taken in. These clips will only be “live” for the next 24 hours and replaced with new updated ones if the user keeps it up to date.

The New York Times tested out these features and had Each journalist take the account over for a specified amount of time to tell a story from their vantage point. Videographers, reporters, photographers, editors and even an Op-Ed columnist have taken the account to tell their own story in the unique Snapchat style.(2) ESPN is another example in using these features to connect with the upcoming generational trend toward the phone.

Millman said in an interview “It’s been a great experience for us so far. The team that works on it does a phenomenal job, and we think about things differently because of the Snapchat platform. We get a sense of what’s tracking really well. We get a sense of how to have a little bit more fun. We get a sense of how to engage an audience in a different way.

When he was asked if ESPN had a separate team. He replied “Oh, yeah. We’re doing it every single day, so we need to be planning it advance. What do we know is coming up that we have from a content perspective? Which events do we want to cover? And then we have to account for the stuff that surfaces that we weren’t expecting.” (3)

These Snapchats Discover page stories allow the organizations to connect with a larger audience on an intimate level. But how can this be brought to the local level?

This year (2017), Snapchat launched Snapchat Maps. Snapchat maps allow users to see where friends and events are on a live updating map. When more people add to the local story the area on the map starts to light up. Green being a few snaps and red meaning a ton of snaps are being added to the story. Larger events get their own story bubble on the map. When you tap on these areas you can see all the public live story snaps that have been shared within the last 24hr.

I think that the combination of GEO filters, which are location tags, and Snapchat maps can benefit local and national news. If local stations sent reporters out to do snap stories, they could create an informational and interactive viewing experience. A local viewer could look at the map to see where the stories are being added. This now allows for people to see the news live and know where it is happening.

With the new features like snapchat maps, stories, filters, and better text capability. I think that Snapchat can replace 24hr news stations soon. I think we are seeing a shift in how we look at journalism. We are allowed for personal first-person exercises to these stories happening live. For instance, during the Vegas shooting the snapchat map in that area was bright red with a snap being added to the local story left and right. These stories included updated information over laid on people’s personal snaps shared to the local story.

It was an impactful way to tell this sad tragic story, causing the viewer to feel like they were there. Giving them a better understanding of the situation. Now it may have been hard to watch, but I think that this makes the viewer have empathy toward the victims and teaches the masses that we don’t have something like this happen again.

Here is the Snapchat story I woke up to that next morning. (warning contains graphic and sensitive material)

Sources:

(1):http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/rise-selfie-journalism-india-using-snapchat-digital-storytelling-1570898

(2):https://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2015/05/18/snapchat-a-new-mobile-challenge-for-storytelling/?_r=1

(3):http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/02/inside-espns-mobile-strategy-if-were-thinking-about-anything-else-were-failing-the-audience/