Snapchat inks Discover deal with student newspapers

Snapchat this morning announced a deal with a select group of student newspapers across the United States in a bid to continue reaching young audiences and distinguish itself from other platforms.

Four student newspapers — The Daily Californian at the University of California at Berkeley, The Battalion at Texas A&M, The Daily Orange at Syracuse University and the Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin at Madison — are the first participants in the program, called Campus Publisher Stories.

The stories, which will be published weekly, resemble content produced by other publishers for Snapchat's Discover tab. The New York Times, CNN and Cosmopolitan already have space in Snapchat Discover, and Snapchat itself produces a daily show hosted by CNN alumnus Peter Hamby called "Good Luck, America." Many publishers on Snapchat Discover have entire teams dedicated to producing content for the platform, including animators, videographers, hosts and writers.

Unlike Snapchat Discover stories produced by national news organizations, stories from student newspapers will be restricted to Snapchat users who use the app on campus. This is achieved through geofencing, a process by which Snapchat assigns predetermined geographic boundaries to content.

Although the exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, a Snapchat spokesperson told Poynter the company will split revenue generated from ads on the campus publisher stories.

"Today, we are expanding Publisher Stories to include school newspapers," Snapchat said in a release. "School newspapers play a critical role in informing and entertaining their campus communities, and they are often where the many leading journalists and editors that we work with got their start.

"We are partnering with dozens of colleges and universities, whose editorial teams will begin producing weekly Publisher Stories and distributing them on Snapchat. These Stories will feature Snap Ads to help each school monetize and grow their newspaper through a revenue sharing agreement."

The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has assigned a Snapchat editor and a team of four or five people to produce the weekly Snapchat story, said Alice Vagun, the student newspaper's editor in chief. Since the editorial staff at the newspaper is unpaid, the money from the partnership will go to covering the newspaper's general operating costs, she said.

"This is an interesting and exciting venture for us," Vagun said. "There’s a saying at the Badger Herald: Everything is an experiment."

Vagun said that, based on conversations with an employee at The Daily Californian at the University of California at Berkeley, she expects the Snapchat stories to bring in at least 3,000 views weekly. The stories will consist of 10 to 12 snaps and will be updated on Fridays.

Most of the Badger Herald's content will be stories from the weekly print or daily web editions that are repurposed for Snapchat, Vagun said. For Snapchat, which has long distinguished itself from other social platforms with original content, the Campus Publisher stories are the latest differentiator.

Facebook, which owns Snapchat rival Instagram, is beginning to make a push for original content. But Snapchat has enabled news organizations to contribute content for Snapchat Discover since the beginning of 2015.

As platforms like Snapchat and Facebook ramp up their news offerings, there's ample evidence showing an appetite among their users. On Thursday, the Pew Research Center published a report showing that two-thirds of Americans get some kind of news on social media.

Correction: The host of "Good Luck, America" is Peter Hamby, not Chris.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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