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Snapchat, shockingly, is more than just rainbow puke selfies. In the years since it’s conception, the social media app known for disappearing pictures has offered users more uses than just sharing selfies with your besties. One of the most important of these updates was perhaps the addition of the Snapchat Story. With a snapchat story, users are able to post videos or pictures that are available to their followers for twenty-four hours before they disappear forever. This meant that you could share your location, crazy hairdo, or puppy video with a much wider audience for a longer time. More importantly though, the Snapchat Story has changed the way that news reaches today’s young people. More and more, news outlets and reporters are using their Snapchat accounts to share breaking news to a younger generation. This method may sound too simple and stripped down. Many even argue that it serves only to perpetuate the short attention span my generation has when it consumes news, but it’s actually quite effective.

This was even truer when Snapchat launched its “Discover” feature. With this addition, the app’s potential as a valid repository of news became clear. As Fusion reports, this feature could be “the biggest thing in news since Twitter.” Different news and media outlets produce well thought out content, specifically tailored to Snapchat’s platform. And people have been viewing this content by the millions. To name a few, CNN, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Mashable all utilize this feature on the app to share live news, technology reviews, short articles and videos, etc. To me though, the most valuable aspect of Snapchat’s story or discover feature is its ability to share information and live reports on important stories from every corner of the globe.

Meet BBC Panorama and Ravin Sampat:

BBC Panorama is a TV program focused on current affiars that has been using Snapchat to report on and document the Syrian refugee crisis. On September 7, BBC Panorama launched a weeklong Snapchat coverage of the crisis. Ravin Sampat, a producer for the program, ran the Snapchat account. Following refugees for a documentary for the Panorama series, Sampat also posted videos and pictures to BBC Panorama’s snapchat account that reached hundreds of users daily. By following ‘bbcpanorama’ on Snapchat, anyone across the globe could watch content about the refugee crisis. Using simply an iPhone, Sampat and BBC Panorama were able to give people around the world a rare glimpse into the refugee crisis. Though the material is heavy, Sampat believes in sharing it with the world because “the story of the Syrian refugees should be told as powerfully as possible on as many platforms as possible.”

I, personally, think this method is brilliant. I use Snapchat’s Discover feature all the time. It’s quick and easy – in the last thirty seconds, I watched CNN’s Snapchat video all about “The People’s Pope” and his first touchdown in the United States. Sure, maybe it does feed into my millennial view that “I can consume anything and everything” and that more is better. Perhaps by watching the BBC Panorama story, I’m only getting a tiny glimpse into a hugely complex and politically charged issue that is the refugee crisis. But I propose this: if even just one more person sees something on Snapchat that encourages him or her to research the issue further, to get involved, and to do something, isn’t that better than the alternative?

Cover photo courtesy of Flickr user AdamPrzezdziek and tweet screenshot courtesy of Twitter user Matt Rhodes

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