Student guest post: Swipe left for news

Students in JOMC 457, Advanced Editing, are writing guests posts for this blog this semester. This is the third of those posts. Juanita Chavarro Arias is a junior majoring in journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill with a minor in composition, rhetoric and digital literacy. She enjoys keeping up with entertainment news and is a self-proclaimed TV junkie.

In an age where we want everything now and in one place, media companies are looking for ways to get their content more easily in the palm of our hands. We can open our smartphone’s Twitter app and find out what’s going on in the world before we even get out of bed in the morning.

Increasing technology developments have forever changed the standards for reporting news. Consumers no longer rely on traditional media outlets for news and stories. Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram photos can provide information more efficiently and easily to anyone who scrolls through a feed and doesn’t want to follow a link.

Social media may seem daunting or unnecessary for a news organization to use. But they are essential tools for promoting content, gaining traffic and communicating with readers, viewers and listeners.

The Wrap reported last week that NowThis News, a video news source, recently decided to operate exclusively on social media and shut down its website. NowThisNews.com displays a message saying, “Homepage. Even the word sounds old. Today the news lives where you live.”

The media industry has experienced the decline of print news, the transition to the Internet and the incorporation of social media, but how long will it be before even websites become obsolete? Apps and social media are on the rise, so if NTN’s move away from its website is an indication, it could be a possibility in the future.

Last week, the popular messaging app Snapchat unveiled Discover, a new service which allows users to look through stories made up of text, video and pictures. The stories are only available on the app for 24 hours before Discover refreshes and releases new ones. Discover launched as a collaboration with CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, People, Vice, Yahoo! News and Warner Music Group.

Snapchat’s Discover works from the social media ideal that content should be gathered in one place so consumers don’t have to click around or switch from app to app to find what they want. Through the app, people can communicate with friends and swipe to the left to get their fill of news such as a feature on a potty-trained sloth to a story about RadioShack’s bankruptcy.

“How do we edit for Snapchat?” is probably a question the news media weren’t expecting to ask themselves. However, editing on this platform is just as important as editing for print and online media as short, concise stories are what audiences want.

Most of the time, readers spend seconds on a story before clicking or swiping away, so editors have the difficult task of creating attention-grabbing, short and accurate headlines to pull in readers. Writers and editors are adjusting their skills and story formats to fit technological constraints and the short attention spans of consumers who have grown accustomed to getting everything in 140-character tweets.

It may be difficult to adjust to changing consumer habits and media platforms, but it’s worth working through. News outlets should embrace the technology that becomes available to them because each new app or social media network provides an additional opportunity to share content and attract a greater audience.