Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
“Fierce urgency of now”: This year-long project aims to fill the gap on inequality reporting in Memphis
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 29, 2015, 5:24 p.m.
Mobile & Apps

Snapchat wants to slip a little news into teens’ social smartphone time

“A 19-year-old may not come across what the Iran deal is, but if it’s in their face in Snapchat, where they’re living all day, I kind of see that as a social good.”

This month, as millions of Muslims made the annual Hajj to Mecca, Snapchat set up a Live Story around the pilgrimage. Using a geofence that located users in Mecca and the surrounding areas in Saudi Arabia, Snapchat let users submit photos or short videos that its editors then curated into a story it showcased to its users around the world.

While media outlets from around the world covered the Hajj, especially after the deadly stampede last week, Snapchat could take its viewers into places, such as the mosques, that traditional TV crew couldn’t reach. (The Hajj Snapchat Live Story was compiled before the stampede happened.)

“At Snapchat, we have everyone’s camera at our disposal,” said Peter Hamby, Snapchat’s head of news during a talk Tuesday at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Media, Politics and Public Policy. Snapchat’s Live Stories disappear 24 hours after they’re published, and Hamby compared them to television in the era before DVR — people would gather around their sets to watch big moments unfold because they wouldn’t be able to rewatch them.

About 15 million people globally view Live Stories each day, Hamby said. Snapchat says it has more than 100 million users, and that user base is predominantly young — 45 percent of Snapchat users are between 18 and 24 years old, according to a Business Insider Intelligence report from June. Hamby joined Snapchat this spring from CNN, where he was a national political reporter.

Because its audience is so young, Snapchat’s approach to news is mostly educational, Hamby said, noting that Snapchat isn’t going to be breaking incremental news on its platform. Instead, he pointed to a recent Live Story Snapchat compiled around 2016 presidential candidates’ positions on the Iran deal. The company had staffers at various campaign events and also used snaps from regular users at the events.

“A 19-year-old may not come across what the Iran deal is, but if it’s in their face in Snapchat, where they’re living all day, I kind of see that as a social good,” Hamby said.

To that end, the most effective journalists and news organizations on Snapchat, Hamby said, are the ones who treat it as its own distinct platform. He said the presidential candidates who used Snapchat best were Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (who has since dropped out of the race) and Ohio governor John Kasich. They’ve been successful, he said, because they both have young children who use Snapchat themselves.

In addition to the Live Stories that Snapchat itself produces, there are also publishers, from BuzzFeed and Mashable to ESPN and National Geographic, that produce custom content for Snapchat’s Discover platform. A number of publications also have their own Snapchat accounts and produce their own stories for their followers.

A full audio recording of the session with Hamby is available here:

POSTED     Sept. 29, 2015, 5:24 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Mobile & Apps
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
“Fierce urgency of now”: This year-long project aims to fill the gap on inequality reporting in Memphis
“Memphis is a microcosm of what’s going on in a lot of urban centers around the country. It’s an extreme example of what happens when things go wrong and and aren’t fixed for a long time.”
Matter’s first post-election class: a focus on inclusion, activism, and even security
In the Trump era, Matter says its mission to build a “more informed, empathetic, and inclusive society” is more vital than ever.
Newsonomics: The Daily’s Michael Barbaro on becoming a personality, learning to focus, and Maggie Haberman’s singing
“To be a Times reporter is to be in some ways a raconteur, right? A lot of the journalists here are great, great storytellers at a bar…I think The Daily taps into that great oral tradition of journalists, enthusiastically talking about a story in a way they’re excited about, and it gets people excited about it.”