10 Seconds or Less: Snapchat

Snapchat is a very new in terms of social media. The demographic that uses it is limited making it difficult to know how exactly it could be used for journalism. With that said, there are news organizations that use Snapchat through the discover stories tab. Organizations like CNN and The Washington Post use this feature.

So do the discover stories work? I think they are a good idea, but they are not the most inviting place for content and the content is often a day or more old by the time it is posted. What Snapchat does really well is creating their own live stories that are a collection of submitted user snaps from events ranging from holidays to natural disasters. The feature also incorporates information about the event with non user snaps that are added into it. It is a really good way to get people interested in what is happening. It allows for a more personal look at whatever the event is as well as many angles and views in a way that doesn’t feel like news.

Now it would be difficult, if not near impossible, for a medium or small news organization to do something like that. But that does not mean that Snapchat as a platform can’t be used for news. The difficult part is making producing the content in a way that feels less like news and more like a regular person sharing the experience. The idea of Snapchat stories is to allow a single person to share what is happening in their life with a large group of people all at once.

What becomes difficult when trying to get a news organization to adapt to Snapchat, or to even convince them is an underlying lack of understanding or even dislike for the platform. When Snapchat was first released it slowly became a topic in which news organizations (like the one I have been following WCIV ABC 4 Charleston) about the danger to children. This is often a theme seen with newer technology when it gets released. This is an article that WCIV published in 2012 about Snapchat; one year after it was first released:

http://abcnews4.com/archive/snapchat-presents-new-danger-for-kids-and-texting

The article is a general warning to parents about what could happen with the platform. It may be in part why the demographic for Snapchat users ends around age 35.

In terms of actually teaching a newsroom how to use Snapchat… I think it would be very difficult. I don’t think Snapchat is something that can be understood through a meeting to train with it. I think rather if a newsroom would like to get its content onto the platform it should do so by creating an account and telling the reporters to use it how they think it should be used. Use it to tell your story in a quick and simple way. Otherwise the stories will likely end up being a near reproduction of what can already be found on T.V. or Facebook.