Can Vine and Snapchat be reporting tools?

By Ryan Levi

By Snapchat, Inc. [Public domain]
via Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it to the #ONA14 Conference in Chicago this past weekend, so I spent some time on the conference website looking at what I missed. In addition to the great work done by the folks in the ONA Student Newsroom, I found two short videos which kind of blew me away: two journalists talking about using Snapchat and Vine in their newsrooms.

Right off the bat, I suppose I should admit that I don't use either Snapchat or Vine. They seem fun, but they also seem like black holes where I could lose a lot of valuable time. But whether I like them or not, I've never considered the possibility that they could be useful to me as a journalist. But that's exactly the argument that Masuma Ahuja of The Washington Post and Jeff Petriello of Mashable made over the weekend.

I was shocked to learn that The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News and NPR all use Snapchat as part of their news offerings. I do like what Ahuja says about providing bite-sized news or fun facts through Snapchat. Like Twitter, I think Snapchat can help shrink the distance between reporter and news consumer. I also think the My Story function on Snapchat could be a very useful tool for developing stories or event coverage, something of a new-age live blog. I do worry a little about whether news consumers will take items posted on Snapchat seriously, but maybe that's not the point of that type of content. The nature of Snapchat as a self-deleting entity also raises possible ethical concerns when it comes to accountability and making corrections to inaccurate reporting.

I think the ability to caption Vines make it a cool platform where reporters can put together really creative and visually appealing videos that are paired with the typical Twitter-sized news update. It takes something that news consumers are used to (Twitter updates) and gives it a creative twist. Having a cool Vine with your tweet could, I think, really set your coverage apart.

What do you think? Would you take news distributed through Snapchat or Vine seriously? Would you use them as a reporter? Let us know in the comments!

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