Posts Tagged ‘snapchat’


The social balance

Social media platforms are in a delicate balance when it comes to platforms and engaging users. (Photo: Visual Content/Flickr via Creative Commons)

In the world of social media, content is king, and for journalists, social media has allowed for new ways to not just inform audiences, but also to engage them – creating new dimensions in the relationship between consumer and news organization.

Yet, while there are benefits for journalists and news organizations in this relationship with social media, there also are questions as to the right balance – informing users versus attracting them.

For social media platforms, it is the matter of designing the right platform to curate these stories, and the algorithm that distributes them to users. This includes the most notable, Facebook, who has rolled out updates on stories and photos in an attempt to compete with Snapchat, which has been a notable app because of its ability to engage younger audiences.

For news organizations, it is the matter of staying true to the goals at the core of journalism – informing, engaging and stimulating, while trying not to be too content heavy, leading to people unfollowing them on Twitter or unliking them on Facebook.

It all comes down to the question both social networks and news organizations are facing: “How much is too much?”

As the right way to handle this is debated and put forward, and strategies are tweaked, there must be the consideration of the people who will ultimately be at the receiving end of these strategies – the audience.

When writing about the changes for Facebook, Casey Newton, an editor for the technology news web site The Verge, included a section in his story on the social network’s introduction of Stories, and wider implications.

Among them is this:

“Where should you post your daily story now becomes a daily concern for a certain subset of youngish, social media-savvy people,” Newton wrote. “Facebook says stories belong everywhere that people are talking online, but what if the format is a fad? And what if forcing it on users across its entire family of app leads to a general fatigue with the idea? The company says each of its apps has a distinctive audience, and I believe it. But there’s also plenty of overlap. There’s a risk here that Facebook’s mania for stories will be interpreted as overkill by its users, and the feature will ultimately fade into the background. (This happened with live video!)”

In other words, on the whole, its the delicate balance that social platforms like Facebook have to play in order to attract users but also try not to put them off. Because of the importance of the content, be it a photo or video based story on Instagram, going live on Facebook, or creating a Moment on Twitter, social networks are trying to be distinct in how they can get the most audiences possible – for content can support a platform’s future.

A new platform or new feature brings the potential for more users on the social network, and the opportunity for news organizations to increase their audience on that particular platform. That opportunity also raises the question of prioritizing stories, and what platform gets to be the lucky recipient of the story.

But considerations must be made for why the story is there on that social network in the first place. Are you posting a story on Facebook because people really need to know about it, or are you putting up on Snapchat a customized dancing cat video merely designed to expand your reach and the number of eyeballs on the post?

It is important that audiences are informed and engaged by journalists about the world around them – it is at the core of SPJ’s Code of Ethics’ steadfast value – seek truth and report it. It is also important that social media plays a role in informing and engaging audiences, as it is a reflection of the change in platforms where the news is curated and disseminated.

Yet, when all is said and done, both parties need to consider what is best for their audiences, instead of the opportunity to boost audience figures. After all, it isn’t about quantity, but quality, and that an accurate, fair and quality piece of work benefits everyone – instead of something rushed.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is a member of SPJ’s Ethics Committee and a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Why Facebook needs a public editor

Mark Zuckerberg should hire a public editor for Facebook to benefit journalism's relationship with the platform. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr)

Mark Zuckerberg should hire a public editor for Facebook to benefit journalism’s relationship with the platform. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr)

It’s been a wild week for Facebook. The social network came under criticism this week for allegedly suppressing content that advocates Conservative policies when it comes to the content that appears on its Trending Topics list.

It also prompted a letter to the social network from John Thune, the Republican senator from South Dakota, with the senator saying if the bias were true, it was a violation of the values of an open internet.

The questions surrounding the allegations come as Facebook’s relationship with journalism continues to evolve. Facebook, according to a report from NPR, says it will be reviewing its practices and will be responding to the senator.

The social network has become one of the most quintessential platforms for dissemination of news, and a platform that news organizations have used to inform and engage audiences. Users flock to social media for news and information when they are on the go as well as to engage in conversations, which have become a signature of journalism in the 21st century.

The letter comes as documents from Facebook released to The Guardian newspaper in Britain shows guidelines similar to that of a traditional news organization, where editors are relied upon to exercise journalistic values in addition to the algorithms that sort the content for each user.

Yet as the questions continue, and as Facebook and other social platforms continue to be at the intersection of journalism for audiences, it perhaps could be time for Facebook to consider hiring public editors. They would, as Jeff Jarvis suggested in a post yesterday on Medium, not edit content, but be an advocate for the public. The idea also got an endorsement from Kelly McBride at the Poynter Institute, and it gets my endorsement too.

The rule however should not apply to just Facebook. Twitter, Google, Snapchat and others should also look into hiring public editors. These editors would be in a unique position to give insight on the core components of the interaction between users and these platforms, including the algorithms that shape these results.

Most importantly, these editors would help us better understand journalism’s relationship with these platforms, and how they can work better. It would be imperative for these public editors to be in place, and the quicker they are in place, the better the relationship will be for not just those who develop and curate this content, but for those who social networks, journalists and news organizations ultimately serve — the audience.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Now streaming: The world

They have been common occurrences in our Facebook feeds over the last few weeks — a news organization, journalist or publisher on the social network sends a notification to its fans that its live doing an event or doing a Q&A on a subject.

Whether its The New York Times discussing the future of Apple amid the conclusion of the company’s 13 year growth streak or the BBC World Service interviewing a German historian about the country’s past, live-streaming has become a new way for news organizations to engage audiences in conversations, as well as inform them about particular events.

The adapting of live streaming in social strategies comes as video becomes an integral part of social engagement, either through videos curated through Snapchat’s Discover channels, segments posted on Twitter or even short clips on Facebook and Instagram. Video has become a core part of engaging audiences on social, no matter the event, and live streaming would become an essential component of it.

Indeed, for video, its not just limited to coverage of news events and Q&As. Recently, Twitter announced that it would live stream 10 NFL games over the course of the next season, a move that is likely going to indicate more Twitter based content and video from news organizations and reporters who cover sports, not just for the NFL, but for all sports, including the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

More people are seeing journalism through live streaming, especially on Facebook. (Photo: Pixabay)

More people are seeing journalism through live streaming, especially on Facebook. (Photo: Pixabay)

Additionally, more live streams are likely to come from news organizations, whether its leading up to the final primaries, conventions, and indeed, the general election in November in the US, or towards the forthcoming referendum in the UK on its membership in the European Union, and its geopolitical implications. Live streaming is at the core for the strategy of social platforms, long marketed as hubs for the events that shape the world in real time.

Video continues to be key in engagement on social platforms. As a result, live streaming will be at its core, and those notifications you see on Facebook, and those posts about live coverage on Twitter, won’t be going away anytime soon.

While this remains mutually beneficial for both news organizations and indeed social networks, there is still a significant responsibility for news organizations when it comes to this content. If the content you produce is fair, accurate, impartial, and transparent, it will resonate with your audiences.

As I wrote in the lead up to SPJ’s Ethics Week (held last week), the influence of social media is still felt in today’s journalism, and the rules of ethics still apply, even if its on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or a different social platform.

After all, the content you produce for these platforms is not just to help engagement and the social strategy, but to do what all journalism does irrespective of platform — inform, educate and enlighten

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Point Taken and the new social media conversation

Carlos Watson moderates a debate on the American Dream from Point Taken, airing on PBS. (Photo: Meredith Nierman/WGBH)

Carlos Watson moderates a debate on the American Dream from Point Taken, airing on PBS. (Photo: Meredith Nierman/WGBH)

Social media has allowed us to do many things in journalism, from help tell a story and inform new audiences, to curate a conversation on various subjects. For WGBH, they have shown social media can do that and then some through the new program Point Taken.

Point Taken, a late-night, weekly debate on a current affairs topic, presented by Carlos Watson, premiered last night on PBS and is produced by the Boston based public media station. The subject was the future of the American Dream, and at the core of the conversation was social media, utilizing the hashtag #PointTakenPBS.

Yet, how social media was portrayed was different compared to most current affairs programs on television that discusses topical subjects. Tweets had appeared on screen, but also data of interaction was also present, indicating how many users were tweeting with the subject at that given time. It gave a visual complement to the discussion, allowing audiences to see a full lens of the conversation.

There was also the ability to vote on whether the American Dream was dead or alive, data which was shown on Twitter, as well as the ability to use polls to gain more insight into the thoughts of viewers.

However, the prevalence of social is not exclusive to a half hour broadcast. Other platforms had been used, including Facebook for engagement and interaction, as well as Snapchat, where through a filter audience members could record their thoughts on the subject being debated. Point Taken having a platform on Snapchat is part of a number of WGBH produced programs signing on to the platform, notably the current affairs documentary program Frontline and the science documentary program Nova.

In addition, the first episode is available to watch again (or to view if you missed last night’s airing) on Facebook, through PBS’ fan page.

The subjects will change from week to week, but one thing is for certain. WGBH and Point Taken have revolutionized how social media is used to curate a conversation, and has allowed new ways for public media as a whole to engage with younger audiences. It is a strategy that is inspired, and can go a long way in engaging new audiences and retaining current ones.

Tuesday was a win-win scenario for WGBH and for this industry, allowing not just for a discussion on the future of the American Dream, but also how social media can be used to enhance and innovate journalism, making it better for those curating the content, and, most importantly, those consuming it.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Facebook’s business is journalism’s business

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The social network will roll out Instant Articles to all publishers April 12. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The social network will roll out its Instant Articles program to all publishers April 12. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Next Tuesday (April 12th), at Facebook’s F8 conference in San Francisco, the social network is to open up Instant Articles to every single publisher in the world.

Instant Articles, which was launched last May, started a revolution into Facebook’s relationship with journalism, and how users consume journalism on social media. Publishers including the BBC, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Guardian and MTV have been utilizing Instant Articles, which hosts content produced by those organizations on Facebook.

In a blog post from earlier this year, Josh Roberts, a Product Manager for Facebook, said opening up Instant Articles would allow users to be connected to content and subjects they cared about.

“Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, posts, videos or photos that matter most to them,” Roberts said. “Opening up Instant Articles will allow any publisher to tell great stories, that load quickly, to people all over the world. With Instant Articles, they can do this while retaining control over the experience, their ads and their data.”

As the social network prepares to open Instant Articles up to the world’s publishers, it comes at an interesting time for the relationship between social media and journalism, where content has become the strategic core of engaging new audiences to platforms. This is particularly the case for not just Facebook, but also Twitter and Snapchat.

Twitter introduced Moments late last year as CEO Jack Dorsey tries to increase the amount of users, while Snapchat has been trying to make its Discover feature more accessible to users, with potential changes coming as early as next month. This also comes as the satirical news site The Onion becomes the latest publisher to join Discover.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. Snapchat has been one of the platforms competing for audiences through its Discover feature. (Photo: Techcrunch/Flickr under CC)

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. Snapchat has been one of the platforms competing for audiences through its Discover feature. (Photo: Techcrunch/Flickr under CC)

Separately, Facebook introduced late last year to iPhone users a notifications app called Notify, with content from organizations including CNN and The Weather Channel.

However, this relationship has been beneficial to publishers and news organizations, who have been presented the opportunity to engage with new audiences alongside retaining current ones. At the same time, it has raised questions on the quintessential social strategy to have the most impact and potential for audience engagement.

As Facebook and other platforms continue to try to increase their audiences and change user experience, journalism has become part of the equation of the future of social media. The business of social media has now become a fundamental component of the business of journalism, and both businesses have one thing in common — they are constantly evolving.

One thing however is for certain in this ever changing, yet mutually beneficial relationship. It has established that there is always going to be a need for journalism and those who work in it. The platforms may change, but there is always going to be a need for people to analyze and make sense of the day’s events, irrespective of beat.

Social media is going to evolve, but journalism will be the one that comes out on top, a big win for the industry that, like social media, is trying to answer the big question: “What is next?”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Has Snapchat truly discovered Discover?

Snapchat hopes to boost traffic for publishers on its Discover feature.(Photo: AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr under CC)

Snapchat hopes to boost traffic for publishers on its Discover feature.(Photo: AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr under CC)

Since its launch last January, Snapchat has been trying to make its Discover feature work when it comes to social journalism. It attracted the likes of many various publishers, from ESPN and CNN to Comedy Central.

Yet, traffic to those stories had been difficult to achieve, as users of the Los Angeles based social network had to seek out these channels through search, located in another screen. In addition, a selection of clips were only made available on the Stories page.

Now, Snapchat now wants to change that. According to a report from Recode, the company is looking to allow its users to subscribe directly to the content that is being made available, instead of going through the separate search methods. The ability to subscribe to that content would guarantee its appearance on the Stories page, the report adds.

While it is unclear how it would work (the Recode report suggests either deep links by the publishers themselves or push notifications by the social network to suggest new content is available), this is good news for publishers, and indeed Snapchat, as it tries to make a significant foray into the always evolving and competitive world of social media journalism.

Discover has over twenty publishers, and Snapchat has over 100 million active users.

The ultimate question for the platform is if chief executive Evan Spiegel and his colleagues will follow through with it, as suggestions have been made the change could happen as soon as May. If Snapchat is to market itself as viable for journalism on social, especially for younger audiences, it is essential that this move is done as soon as possible.

Once that move is done, there is potential for credibility to be gained amid competition from Facebook and Twitter. If not, it may prove fatal and may see a decline in users for Snapchat, as well as publishers severing their ties in the hopes to find better ways to engage new audiences.

For now, the next move goes to Snapchat, in the hopes that it will truly discover not just the purpose of Discover, but the reason why it entered the world of social media in the first place.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Snapchat Discover Making Moves

Every reporter, every news company wants its products to be viewed by as many people as possible. Social media has made it easier for stories to be shared quicker and wider, and earlier this year Snapchat entered the news game with the Discover feature. Prior to Discover, Snapchat was a social media platform that couldn’t have been farther away from the news game — the purpose was the send funny pictures that lasted a maximum of 10 seconds.

CNN, Cosmopolitan, People, The Daily Mail, Vice, National Geographic, ESPN, Yahoo News, Food Network, Comedy Central and Warner Music were the original publishers to sign on. In the seven months since it was launched, iHeart Radio and Buzzfeed have been added, and Warner Music and Yahoo News have been removed. The simple addition and deletion of some publishers show that the app has gone through development and advancement, with the hopes of more success in the Discover feature. It has also been moved to the main story page, instead of hidden in a small button.

It is one thing for Snapchat to be showing interest in news and the desire to make the news feature more popular with its users, but outside publishers are also benefits from being in business with Snapchat. CNN, The Daily Mail and National Geographic have staff members that only work on Snapchat and Vox is looking to hire specific Snapchat staffers in order to get on the Discover feature.

Snapchat as a social media platform for news is unique because there is a specific audience that is being reached and that audience generally isn’t going to the app just for news. The publishers that are part of the Discover feature are tasked with creating content that will work on Snapchat, be of interest to young users and be visually appealing on a smartphone.

Snapchat’s advancement of the app and news organizations desire to be a part of its growth shows the trend of news heading going digital and the importance of social media. The news organizations that have decided to sign on have shown they are willing to worth with news trends and be ahead of the rest of the industry. Discover may not have reached the perfect formula for reaching the users it wants yet, but if more news organizations are willing to be a part of it, it success should only grow.

Taylor Barker, a member of the Ithaca College chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is the student representative for SPJ Digital. Barker is also an editorial intern for The Miss Information. You can follow her on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Snapchat Live, Citizen Journalism

You know what social media I purposefully held out on?  Snapchat.

I’d seen one too many of my peers get burned by that pesky little instant-messaging system –– either by sending the right snap to the wrong person, or getting that ugly selfie screen-shotted (I’m sure that’s a verb by now, right?).

No way, I scolded myself. Sending unattractive pictures of my face in different discrete locations is not the kind of social media I want to engage in.

And here we are.  I’ve succumbed to the inevitability of Snapchat, much to the delight of my closest Millennial friends.

Though I still haven’t figured out all the quirks and mechanics of the app itself, (like what really happens when you swipe left instead of right?), I’ve embraced Snapchat as a tool for news, like the nosey little journalist I am.

Not only is my favorite news organization, National Geographic, highlighted in Snapchat’s Discover section every morning, but there’s now a new feature I can’t stop clicking on: Snapchat Live.

Live is essentially a city spotlight, where one city from –– get this –– around the entire world is selected every few days.  Snaps sent with the city’s geotag (a marker identifying the city, swipe right a few times to see yours) are collected and sorted into a story by Snapchat support gurus.  The result is a curated, 100-some-second photo-story told from a handful of the city’s denizens, from almost every location (and angle) possible.

As a wanderlust soul stuck in suburban Ohio, I can’t help but smile and laugh along with those Snappers (a new term for Snapchat users, perhaps?) waving and yelling “Hello, from Cairo!” on my tiny little screen.  In the past few weeks, I’ve been transported to São Paulo, Brazil, and a dazzling city in the United Arab Emirates.  I’ve been taken on intimate boat rides, shown the pyramids of Giza from a lofty rooftop, and seen the sun set on different continents –– without having left my bedroom.

The world is truly a wonderfully small world, after all.

Now, I’ve seen many of these breathtaking sites from textbook stock photos and glossy banners in magazines.  But there’s something about this utterly raw, perfectly imperfect footage on Snapchat Live that keeps me coming back for more.

It’s real.  It isn’t some doctored postcard sent to seem luxurious, remote, or exclusive to us relatively affluent Americans.  Snapchat Live showcases young people, like me, using social media as a tool, a guide, to make our world feel more like a community instead of divided countries.  And I admire this emerging form of citizen journalism, for all of its genuine humanness, if you will.

Because when I’m driving around Columbus, I see more of Fifth Avenue traffic and corn-shucking at my local farmer’s market, a crowded movie theater parking lot and an even more crowded Jeni’s ice cream stand than I do the picturesque skyline of downtown plastered onto every travelogue in history.  And that’s the kind of story I want to tell, to show to others: the bright, beautiful, undiscovered world in which I live.

Snapchat Live is also being used to capture historic moments and live entertainment events happening around the world; I watched the U.S. Open of Surfing this afternoon.  So, don’t be like me –– see what Snapchat is all about today.  I believe it’s redefining citizen journalism in the 21st century as we know it.

Bethany N. Bella is studying Journalism, Environmental Studies and Cultural Anthropology at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Is Snapchat discovering a journalistic comeback?

As Snapchat updates its Discover feature, its still trying to figure out its purpose in the world of social media. (Image: Flickr user ryan.nagelmann under CC)

As Snapchat updates its Discover feature, its still trying to figure out its purpose in the world of social media. (Image: Flickr user ryan.nagelmann under CC)

The last couple of weeks have seen changes to Snapchat’s Discover feature, the platform established in January by the Los Angeles based social network that has seen content from providers including CNN, ESPN and the Comedy Central network.

Two weeks ago, a new iOS update was made available, putting the feature front and center before stories and updates from other users. The update came amid concerns of decline in engagement through Discover, according to a report from Mashable.

Earlier Monday, it was announced that the iHeartRadio streaming service and BuzzFeed would start publishing on Snapchat, according to a report from the tech news site Recode, which added that Vox.com would also begin publishing on the platform later in the summer.

These moves from Snapchat comes as it continues to make a name for itself in the world of social media journalism through Discover, as the concerns of engagement decline continue to make themselves known. But in order for Snapchat to reverse the decline concerns, there must be an appeal to engage with that content. Is the engagement responsibility down to the publisher, or is it down to Snapchat?

Snapchat is still seen as an underdog as far as social media platforms, but brands and publishers are ready and willing to engage with as many different audiences as possible. The addition of brands like BuzzFeed to Discover signal that publishers want to engage with Snapchat’s audience. Indeed, for Snapchat, this signals that it wants to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the interaction of social media and journalism.

Yet, more must be done by the social network to convince younger audiences that Discover is worth their time, in an age where the media environment for them consists of a multi-screened, multi-platform experience. On the other side, the Discover feature should be able to signal that Snapchat is ready to be a part of the ever expanding world of social media journalism, something that will please its early investors, as well as become credible competition to Facebook and Twitter.

Even as new publishers join the list of making their content available on Discover, Snapchat is still trying to figure out the role Discover should have. It will take some time to come to a conclusion, and to convince publishers that engaging through this platform was the right move.

Until then, Discover has taken on a new form – a way to figure out the answer to what all the buzz is about when it comes to Snapchat, something that remains, for the most part, mostly unanswered.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and media correspondent for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Facebook, Snapchat and political journalism

Social media competition will be developing ahead of the 2016 election. (Image: Pixabay/CCP

Social media competition will be developing ahead of the 2016 election. (Image: Pixabay under CC license)

As media coverage continues to intensify of the campaigns for the 2016 presidential election, at the helm is social media, and how that will likely influence coverage. There are however new platforms in play compared to events in 2012, and there now appears to be a debate at play among platforms on engaging younger audiences in political coverage.

Earlier this month, a study from the Pew Research Center indicated social media, particularly Facebook, was the dominant platform when it came to young people consuming political news. 61 percent of them got news from the social network compared to 37 percent for local television.

The news of that poll came as the Los Angeles based Snapchat, a social network aimed at younger audiences which is still trying to find its footing, continues its work to hire journalists to shape coverage of the election on the platform. Earlier this year, it hired Peter Hamby, a Washington based correspondent at CNN, to become its head of news.

Both social networks are undergoing significant change when it comes to the broader relationship with social media and journalism. Facebook is doing tests on its Instant Articles initiative and whether users can respond to it, an initiative that may likely be at the center of engagement during the campaigns. Snapchat is also trying to establish an editorial strategy outside of its Discover feature launched in January, and while we are bereft of the facts surrounding it at present, it is looking to become a dominant player among millennials and election coverage, a remarkable rise for the network depending on what Hamby does.

Indeed, these are early days, and a winner of this debate between Facebook and Snapchat cannot be called yet. One thing is for certain, however. In the days, weeks and months ahead, while the candidates face off to be their party’s nomination for the seat in the Oval Office, two social networks will face off to be the preferred network for political engagement with millennials.

News organizations, in order to engage with younger audiences, must be ready to experiment to engage, or be left behind. This campaign will change not just the politics of the United States and how its seen internationally, but how it is covered. It is up to us, as journalists, how we’ll reply.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also contributes to The News Hub web site. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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