Snapping Up Legacy Media: Using Theory of Affordances to Explain How News Outlets Behave on Snapchat
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Snapchat has become an important tool for media outlets to try to reach younger audience members who are active in the social media space but increasingly absent from traditional media platforms. The Snapchat Discover platform has enabled U.S. media outlets to engage directly with younger media consumers in an effort to develop new relationships. This study uses an affordances approach to explore how U.S. media outlets utilize Snapchat to reach young people, the audience least engaged with traditional media. Using content analysis and interviews, this study found that publishers on Discover adopt Snapchat’s affordances and adapt their story topic and presentation of content with an emphasis on the visual. Specifically, they appear to rely on vertical video, immediacy, ephemerality, and creativity to meet the characteristics of the platform and its users. Yet, differences emerge between traditional “legacy” and “new” media outlets, especially in news judgment. From a theoretical perspective, this research expands the literature on affordances and constraints of social media platforms used by U.S. media.