Snapchat and journalism with ELN alum Al Drago

By Alex Hager

This morning, to get the conference kicked off, I attended a talk by Elon/ELN alum Al Drago. Al has worked as a political photographer since graduating, and is currently employed by the New York Times as a White House photographer. However, his talk this morning at ACP was focused on how to use Snapchat and Instagram stories as a tool. Al has established himself not only as a reputable photographer, but as an expert in social media sharing.

I went in to the talk skeptical about the actual value of snapchat as a reporting tool. As a social network and a source of entertainment, sure, but I had some doubts about its role in journalism. There’s a lot of hype about the snapchat being the next frontier for digital media, but I’ve always thought that snapchat’s user base might not necessarily latch on to news within the app.

Al’s presentation argued the contrary, showing that Snapchat has a 90% engagement rate, and that the act of physically pressing on a Snapchat presents a level of engagement not experienced on other platforms.

Additionally, Al showed us some examples of how to tell stories through Snapchat and Instagram, repeating a mantra I’ve heard from a number of other journalists. In the end, regardless of the medium, a journalist should only use a platform in a way that helps them most effectively tell a story.

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