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Sept. 7, 2016, 10:19 a.m.
Audience & Social
Mobile & Apps
LINK: www.bloomberg.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   September 7, 2016

Bloomberg reports today that Snapchat is abandoning its Local Stories and firing the team that produced them:

Snapchat Inc. is ending its daily local stories for cities feature, which pulled together video of everyday activities — concerts, cute puppies in the park — shot by users in locales such as New York…About 15 curators who worked on the local stories feature will lose their jobs, according to people familiar with the matter…

As closely held Snapchat builds its business model ahead of an eventual initial public offering, the Los Angeles-based company is evaluating its products and strategy. The local stories weren’t as consistently popular as other features, according to one of the people. Snapchat has been focused on deals for content, like video series, that can supplement its network for sharing “snaps” — short videos and annotated pictures people can post or send to friends.

When Local Stories launched in early 2015, there was some thought that it could tie users to that middle layer between a user’s friends and national brands — your local community.

The company is currently experimenting with a version of its normally public, big event Our Stories that feature Snaps from a certain location that can only be seen by people nearby. Today it’s running one called “TGIF” that only pulls in Snaps from, and shows them to, people in Los Angeles.

If the Local Our Stories catch on, they could inspire people to open Snapchat to check if there’s nearby content…Local Our Stories have the potential to create a connective fabric in communities where people can enjoy each other’s perspectives without having to follow or even know the people whose Snaps they’re watching.

I, being a 40-year-old man and thus not in the prime Snapchat demo, don’t believe I ever saw a Local Story here in Boston. I asked our Ricardo Bilton, formerly of New York and now of Chicago, what he thought of them (he liked them):

I thought it was a great way to see what the city was up to at any given time — people canoeing, people at concerts, weddings, people just sitting in the park, walking their dogs. Even though it was curated, it felt like a unfiltered window into people’s lives.

Not to beat this particular drum too often, but local news is by far the most threatened segment of the news industry in the shift to digital. While one wouldn’t call a Snapchat Local Story reporting, or even news, it nonetheless was a noteworthy effort by one of the giant tech platforms to view local community as something worth building and a space worth being in. And while it may not have had the reach of some of Snapchat’s other products, it certainly seemed able to reach thoroughly decent numbers most local news brands would be psyched to see:

So it’s a little sad to see it go.

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