Journalism: The Future Of Snapchat?
“Just because Yahoo has a search box doesn’t mean they’re Google”
Evan Spiegel believes that his company has enough of a moat and a product differentiation that users won’t jump over from Snapchat to Facebook (aka the "yahoo search" of media sharing)
Right now, he couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Snap Inc. had its Q1 earnings conference call four days ago and the results are… well, an image is worth a thousand words, so here’s one that accurately described the world’s reaction to the conference call.
The reality is Facebook has declared war on Snap. It’s not pretty, and right now Facebook is doing a phenomenal job of preventing Snap’s potential future audiences from downloading snapchat. But Snap has a few things that it can do to remain relevant, and maybe even co-exist with the social media mammoth.
Snapchat must become a tool for Journalism. Here’s why I think so:
According to Merriam-Webster, Journalism can be defined as “the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media”. Well that’s absolutely great, but why is that relevant to Snapchat, you might ask?
Also according to Merriam-Webster, News can be defined as “new information about something that has happened recently”. Is it starting to get a little less hazy?
According to Merriam-Webster, Snapchat isn’t really an English word.
But according to Snap Inc, Snap sees themselves as a “camera company”. A company designed “to empower people… to live in the moment”. A company created to “improve the way people live and communicate”. A company that allows people to “learn about the world”.
A camera company. Live in the moment. Communication. Learn about the world.
Knowingly or unknowingly, Snapchat has placed itself in the perfect position to be a catalyst for news proliferation. Especially with the introduction of its cheap and effective spectacles ($129.99, 3 colors, one charging case, enormous amounts of fun/live news streaming abilities).
Avoiding any political comments, UC Berkeley had some violent protests in the not so distant past. A “conservative” personality, for a lack of a better term, came to speak on campus. Cal students decided to hold a protest - which started off as a, dare I say, lit dance party. Some outside agitators instigated violence and the event was canceled. Our beloved Amazon center was partially broken, some fires were started and there was quite a bit of yelling.
I saw everything. I was also eating an enchilada with a few friends blocks away from the protests. How, you might ask. Well, CNN, Fox News and every other media agency imaginable had helicopters providing aerial coverage. News reporters on the ground were scared of damaging their equipment, so they filmed for a short period of time or filmed from afar. The closest coverage I got to “the action” were actually snapchat stories. They were a little blurry at times, a little shaky at times and a little too zoomed out at times, but I got a good idea of what was going on.
Today, journalists display important events that they viewed from their own eyes, to the world in real time.
Spectacles would allow veteran journalists, with experience taking live footage, the ability to easily display to the world live important events that they viewed with their own eyes.
Spectacles would allow live streaming of events with a tiny upfront cost in comparison to heavy duty cameras, mics and vans that traditional media outlets carry with them.
Spectacles would allow journalists to be incredibly mobile, if the scenario required it.
Spectacles would minimize most risks associated with damage to expensive equipment.
Spectacles would allow for a wider coverage of news.
This week, Snap announced a well-received feature to its application that brings the company closer to the goal of entering the Journalism industry - untimed snaps. That means no 10s second maximum. That also means even longer stories when your friends go on exotic vacations.
A caveat - I do understand the very many advantages that accompany using traditional news equipment, and I’m not advocating for the replacement of all cameras with spectacles. That would be ridiculous, especially because spectacles come in a ‘one-size-fits-all’. But I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the advantages that spectacles can provide journalists with, in the right scenarios. Not only that, but as we defined earlier, a lot many more people can now engage in the act of “collection and editing of news for presentation through the media” or journalism, as my beloved Merriam-Webster dictionary calls it.
Snapchat has a unique value proposition to the Journalism industry - let Spectacles be the mobile, risk-free, and cheap medium through which you now capture events that you see with your eyes. And let any and everyone become a collector of news and live information, so that media outlets have access to 166 million sets of eyes, instead of 32,000.