The Washington Post brings breaking news to Snapchat Discover
By Rakin Azfar
February 14, 2017
The pub will be the first to update multiple times a day on Discover
The Washington Post has become the latest example in an influx of prestige publications migrating to Snapchat Discover, and will become the platforms first editorial partner to provide multiple news updates throughout the day.
WaPo will essentially provide the closest thing to breaking news that Snapchat Discover has hosted yet, with most of its participant publications opting for once-daily or once-weekly installations of editorial content. The edition will be live in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, and will run seven days a week.
Snapchat is a perfectly suitable platform for breaking news, and in some ways even an optimal one, said James McNally, director of digital strategy for TDT, New York
. At the end of the day, Snapchat has a userbase that likely doesn't visit WaPo's website, and may not consume much news from traditional sources.
This partnership is a great way to for Snapchat's users to get high quality news, and a way for WaPo to open a relationship with a new userbase.
A press release sets out the Posts aims for the Discover endeavor: to focus on producing fast, visually captivating and experiential storytelling.
And, unlike many publications on the platform that are quick to turn around news on a daily basis, WaPos Discover series will not focus exclusively on reportage, but will also provide analysis on the days events courtesy of the newspapers wide range of columnists and analysts.
The first installation of Wapo's Snapchat story
Some of these Washington Post journalists were among the first to look to Snapchat as a medium for campaign reportage, and also used it as a breaking news platform during the Baltimore riots in 2015.
However, brands have not been so apt to experiment with breaking news coverage on the platform since, and certainly not on Snapchat Discover, which currently pubs tend to use as a repository for distilled digital content created for other media.
The Washington Posts introduction of breaking news coverage to Discover begs the question: Will other publications get in on the craze? And, if so, is there enough room on the platform for multiple strains of breaking news?
There certainly is, Mr. McNally said. There's no question that Snapchat's userbase is attractive to news businesses, and whether or not WaPo is successful in this effort, it's likely that other major news organizations will follow suit.
Discover is quickly becoming a significant module in many news media organizations digital media strategies, but it is yet to be said whether the trend will stick: Although many pubs have/are developing a presence on Discover currently, time will tell whether it becomes a long term hallmark of digital media. As for right now, it seems that many publications just happen to be experimenting with the platform at the same time, which itself could catalyze the critical mass to move Discover into news legitimacy.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway stars in WaPo's first Discover story
Audio is another area that news organizations both nascent and prestige have begun to involve themselves with at scale. Last month, burgeoning online news magazine The Intercept debuted a new podcast, Intercepted, which runs once a week and reflects its parent publications irreverent, nonpartisan tenor (see story
And the New York Times is showing no signs of slowing down in its commitment to bringing fact-based journalism to mobile with the debut of a new daily audio series, The Daily, which is supported by a subscription text service (see story
How can WaPo avoid the pitfalls of the 24 hour news cycle? said Mr. McNally. The typical critique of the 24 hour news cycle is that it incentivizes overblown and hyperbolic headlines.
The way WaPo can avoid this is to simply practice good journalism, he said. The 24 hour news cycle is not the root of the problem with news the problem is sensational journalism that prioritizes ratings and advertising dollars over integrity and balance.
Snapchat is a medium primed for quick, attention-grabbing stories; this in and of itself is not a problem, and any news organization that tries to shy away from that mindset is unlikely to see success on Snapchat. It's easier said than done, but the answer is that news businesses have a responsibility to maintain integrity, and viewers have a responsibility to be critical, and to consume news stories from more than one single platform or corporate entity.