My teenage daughter, Emily starts an internship in a digital media agency in London next week and talking to her at dinner, I mentioned that London Fashion Week was taking place round the corner. I guess I was hoping she would find this exciting news and stupidly assumed she would not know that much about it.
Of course, she coolly informed me that it had already started and that she was following a Snapchat journalist from the BBC who was reporting from behind the scenes. She eagerly showed me some of the video stories which, whilst poorer quality than a typical BBC news film, brilliantly captured the energy and mild chaos of London's premier fashion event. The reports mixed up celeb spot interviews with nail manicurists' views and the feelings and opinions of actual designers, all in 10 second 'snackable' video chunks. We got to chatting about where she gets her news and information from as I've never seen her watch an official TV news program, read a paper (in any format, on or offline) or pay particular attention to radio news bulletins. Her answer really hammered home to me how media consumption had changed over the last ten years or so and how much new and emerging technology has influenced this behaviour.
This is what I discovered about her media habits.
Snapchat has most certainly taken over as both her primary communication tool with friends but also her way of accessing what she called 'street news'. Whilst still a user of that stalwart the BBC, the way she uses the service is very different to me. Basically, she has set the BBC app up to alert her to breaking news and topics relevant to her (delivered via push notifications) which then allow her to find a Snapchat reporter on the scene to better understand what is going on at 'street level'. She will also cross reference with the Sky News presence on Snapchat if she needs a broader viewpoint. Twitter is used as an early morning dip for random news and comments, and regularly checked throughout the day. Instagram is an incredibly important broadcast channel for her own images and Facebook ('just funny videos mainly') comes a rare and distant sixth after Snapchat, BBC, Sky News, Twitter and Instagram. I need hardly add that absolutely everything is done via her mobile. TV's, laptops or desktops are barely used.
What struck me more than anything was the immediacy of her world. Everything seems 'live' or near live and is instantly accessible via video reporting with vast networked communities providing additional commentary and opinions (though rarely actual insight). When I think back to my teenage years, I guess radio was the closest thing we had to 'breaking news' otherwise it was the television news at 9pm every night (two channel choices mind) or nick your Dad's paper off him when he got home from work and read yesterday's!
I guess one further reflection is that there is not much time left for precisely that - reflection. In the headlong rush for instant news there is very little room for depth and analysis. It seems 'breadth' is everything as video formats and multiple media choices work against spending time with any one subject. That said, I'm not sure I'd want to spend too much time with one of my daughter's particular favourites. The Spoon University do a Saturday takeover of the Food Network app (on you guessed it, Snapchat) and specialize in features like '15 Pizza Hacks that will change your life forever'. Who knew Pizza Hacking was 'a thing'?