Today, students at UW Madison, Berkeley, Texas A&M, and Syracuse will have a less traditional, though very 21st-century source of news: Snapchat. After rumors earlier this summer, Snapchat has confirmed that it is working with colleges and universities around the country to officially launch Campus Publisher Stories in its Discover section.
The Stories are a chance for students to get a different kind of campus news, one that is more colorful, clicky, and quickly digestible than traditional articles online and in print. With major news companies, including the New York Times, launching content for Snapchat, this new feature will also a way for aspiring journalists and designers to get their bearings in the new multimedia landscape. All Campus Publisher Stories will be written, designed, and animated by students on campus, and consist of 10 to 12 slides. There will be one new Story each week, which will be live on the app from Friday through Sunday. Snapchat will maintain some oversight of the process.
Alice Vagun, editor-in-chief of UW Madison's The Badger Herald, told Refinery29 that Snapchat first reached out to the campus publication in the spring about working on their version of publisher stories. In mid-July, Vagun says Snapchat touched base again and kicked off a series of weekly meetings with student journalists (all done over video) to go over storyboards, offer feedback on animations, and recommend content types that would work best on the platform.
"One of the things they want us to focus on is how we can connect the campus community and create a space where everyone is in on the joke," Vagun told Refinery29.
This includes turning the paper's "Banter" section, which Vagun describes as "our funny, viral content" into clickable Snapchat material. While Vagun says some of the publication's print content will be repurposed and chopped up into individual slides for their Publisher Story, there will also be exclusives, such as "7 Things All Freshman Should Know About Having Sex In College."
For those who question whether Snapchat is losing ground to Instagram and Facebook, Campus Publisher Stories is a smart move to engage college students and journalists. Before Snapchat reached out about creating a Publisher Story, Vagun says The Badger Herald focused on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to push out news. Though they had a small Snapchat account, it was more of an experiment than a place with focused attention and resources.
According to a 2017 ORC International study commissioned by Snap Inc, 47% of college students say their campus newspaper is their primary source of news about on-campus events, with social media platforms coming in second at 44%. As Campus Publisher Stories launch across the country, all that may be about to change.
"It's a way to push content that is more campus-community friendly — that's quirky, and banter-esque," Vagun says.
Stories will also include Snap Ads as a source of revenue, though Vagun would not disclose how much money the publication is making from the revenue sharing agreement with Snapchat.
If you find yourself on Syracuse, Berkeley, Texas A&M, or UW Madison's campuses today, head to Snapchat's Discover section to check out their debut stories. Otherwise, stay tuned for more universities to announce their own Campus Publisher Stories.