Currently trending among newsrooms globally is the adoption of the chat app surge. Chat apps can be defined an extensions upon social media platforms where messages can be sent and accessed between individuals or organised group conversations. Along with these communication features, some of the apps are opening up to worldwide newsrooms, enabling the distribution of news upon yet another social platform.
Since the release of the first Apple iPhone in 2007, understanding of apps and their abilities have globally proliferated. Apple alone selling 211.88 million iPhone units since 2007, are merely a singular brand in a competitive marketplace. This development of technology has been followed by a multitude of applications and social media platforms that serve as catalyst of change towards the way communication is achieved worldwide. These growing accesses to communication lead journalism to be constantly adapting with it.
The World Editors forum ‘Trends in the Newsroom’ 2015 report signaled the future “upheaval” that chat apps would induce among newsrooms within Jake Evan’s article. Claiming “this is a trend that is traveling East to West”, Trushar Barot’s expectation that user behaviours will increase to become “second-nature to a lot of people in the West”, makes it vital that newsrooms acquire to this developing market.
Smartphone technology has expanded users constant connection to the internet with a recent personal survey conducted, signaling 75% of millennials prefer to use their smartphones to engage with world media than any other technological device. So when it comes to accessing news, newsrooms have needed to become more creative in their distributive approaches.
The BBC news organisation is acknowledged to have embraced the chat app surge with its involvement within chat apps such as WhatsApp, LINE and WeChat. WhatsApp is a chat app statistically proven the most globally popular, with 800 million monthly active users in 2015. This static significantly increasing to 1 billion active users in February 2016. As this is only a singular app in a plethora of chat apps, it signifies that the chat app surge is definitely one that should be pursued further by newsrooms globally.
Similarly, Snapchat is a chat app noted by Evans in the 2015 Trends in the Newsroom report to embrace the distribution of news to users through the new Discover feature. In the first quarter of 2016, research by KPCB identified that globally, Snapchat has 10 Billion daily video views compared to Facebook’s 8 billion. This figure identifying the significant inclination of chat apps against social media platforms which drives this journalistic trend to extend. KPCB identified within their 2016 internet trends report that over 70 million users of Snapchat View Discover each month.
As addressed by Evans in reference to The Information, after three months of Snapchat’s discover launch, viewing figures dropped 50%. Similarly, in the recent survey conducted, 12.5% of respondents answered to Snapchat as their most used platform when engaging with news online compared to 50% answering to Facebook. The variance in these figures however do not suggest that Chat Apps should futuristically be classified as a failure in presenting News. They rather remain an element social communication where journalistic practice need to be further enhanced to acquire to user’s needs.
Evans, J. (2015). Trends in Newsrooms. ‘Riding’ the New Wave of Social Media. World Editors Forum, pp.67-74.
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