Friday, March 24, 2023 | Ramadan 1, 1444 H
clear sky
23°C / 23°C

Snaps: the diminutive capsules of news


Sonia Ambrosio - - Young journalists and digital publishing are the future. They are here to stay, and there is no escape or turn around.

New communication practices are creating a gap between what conservative media professionals and young adults think about communication. We like it or not, in the making of a participatory culture, a new type of journalism practice is in the formation,

and that will change the games and rules of publishing.

Digital participatory culture is what we see nowadays when more people — particularly the youth — are producing media and sharing it with each other. The clicks, the likes, the sharing are an expansion of communicative capacities within a networked culture.

For the young people, social media is real life with its own rules and etiquette. They have techniques for being private in public by using pronouns, in-jokes, and even song lyrics in their conversation — to keep the ‘oldies’ out of the loop.

The ‘oldies’ — those born before the 90s — are reasonably comfortable with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but are ‘awkward’ with Snapchat.

Not that the Snapchat is new. It has come a long way since its conception in 2011. This ephemeral photo and video-sharing application is now one of the platforms that news organisations are reluctantly embracing to survive in the publishing industry.

News organisations such as The Economist, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among many others, have started to use snaps to provide a diminutive capsule of news to an audience that is around 13-30 years old.

Snaps are taking viewers to the heart of events around the world from the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia’s holy shrines to the ‘as it happens’ storms in the Caribbean islands and terror attacks in Europe.

Radio stations are adopting Snapchat to carry out interviews. It is a totally new format of storytelling that is highly engaging. It is a hybrid between print and broadcast in which stories last just 24 hours, and involves a series of videos, photos and text.

For a glimpse of how things are emerging, there is the example of the female driver in Oman who hit media headlines for driving over the permitted limit while snapping. The reaction to the coverage was interesting in the way that people were discussing if it was appropriate to be featured on the first page of a national paper; or an endorsement of the driver who could benefit from the headlines; others questioned the handling of driving rules and penalties.

Another media fizz was a snap video showing a girl wearing a miniskirt and a crop-top walking through a conservative village in Saudi Arabia. The video created a splash in the Saudi and international media, and of course among the local authorities. The video sparked debate over Saudi Arabia’s dress code law.

A teenaged boy dancing to Makarena in the streets of Jeddah also created media ‘noise’. The video on Twitter sparkled ‘rant and rave’ among news organisations, law enforcement agencies and the public.

These cases raised discussions about young people having a tedious life, and then looking for attention-grabbing and daring attitudes just to see ‘what is going to happen to me’ — it is all about living the moment while saying ‘I’m cool, and I do cool things’.

An interview on Snapchat with Omani girls selling food on the streets of the capital Muscat did not make into newspapers’ front pages — though it is uncommon to see local girls selling food on the streets.

The point is, social platforms are definitely having an impact on the news industry, and on young adults’ relationships with communication. In journalism, we have to adjust to these changes, as there is no U-turn.

arrow up
home icon