Is Snapchat and NBC’s ‘Stay Tuned’ What Our Youth Really Needs?

Going back to my teaching days, one of my main concerns was keeping the attention of my students to stay on task and not drift off into focusing on something else.  Though my teaching in Brooklyn did not start until 1996, I had worked in Oceanside, Long Island for three years as a permanent substitute teacher.  My experiences there helped me to realize that the middle school students I worked with had the attention-span as if they were watching a TV show. 

Once the commercials came on, they would divert their attention elsewhere, so it was my job to keep them interested or they would focus on something else when the commercial would start.  This also applied to students that were younger and older at that time and it appears this holds true to today’s younger generation.

The reason I started to remember my days as a teacher was the result of a story I came across today in the USA Today Talking Tech section that highlighted a news show from NBC and first aired on Snapchat three days ago.  So far, it has gotten complimentary reviews and it appears to be targeting younger viewers since they obtain the news through social media and apps instead of traditionally the television. 

Today, I took the plunge and opened my first Snapchat account to access the news show.  Once that was accomplished, I engaged my brain cells that are still alive and began processing the possible good and possible bad of this approach to news as well as the target audience the show is trying to reach.  This leads into today’s discussion, where we will look at the news show Stay Tuned and decide if it is beneficial or detrimental for our younger generation.

What is the goal of Stay Tuned?

Before discussing the pros and the cons of Stay Tuned, let me break down the premise of the show and explain what Snapchat is for anyone who is unfamiliar or just never got around to using it before; like me.  Bearing some resemblance to social media conversations apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and others, Snapchat is an app that you can add friends to and then have conversations with them.  You can also post pictures of yourself and super impose images on your face like a mustache or dog ears. 

The user can also access posts made by others that relate to the news or social events, such as a concert.  One big plus for Snapchat is the recent first airing of a NBC news show that has a very good chance of succeeding.

Stay Tuned is a new show created by NBC that delivers the news of the day but in a different format.  The program is aired only twice a day, 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET as well as on 1 p.m. on the weekends.  The host of the show will go through the top news rundown but in a specific amount of time; today’s 1 p.m. airing showed news clips at 60 seconds intervals. 

During each story, the narrator uses easy-to-understand words and graphics are shown to make the story interesting to watch and listen to.  That’s it in a nutshell, so let us move on to how this format can benefit the audience that is being targeted.

Stay Tuned is beneficial to their audience…

Social media may have grown more today than when I started teaching over two decades ago (yes, I am showing my age) but even back then, the younger generation still had the attention span as if they were watching a TV show.  Learning and taking in information had to be done quickly because as soon as the 6-8-minute episode stopped and went into commercials, the focus and interest are gone; sometimes never to get them back on track. 

Since the news clips are roughly a minute long, a younger individual can easily learn and process what the story is about while still remembering what was seen.  USA TODAY: Talking Tech looked at the way the show presented the information and basically felt that they liked Snap’s approach to telling the story and is a lesson on how to communicate with others.  Tell us what we need to know in quick, easy to understand bites, and you’ll get and keep our attention.  While this is one way to look at how beneficial this type of storytelling can be, the other side of the coin suggests that it can be considered detrimental as well.

Stay Tuned is Detrimental to Their Audience…

While it is easy to see and appreciate the format that is being used to attract and keep their audience, this way of learning and processing information is not the norm when it comes to education as well as in life.  The teacher inside me is screaming at this for several reasons.  The article I referenced above made the commented about use language that assumes you know very little means to me that the level of vocabulary being used is of a lower level of learning. 

Once students get used to only using vocabulary that is bare minimum, trying to learn higher level vocabulary will be difficult or impossible as the desire to learn will no longer be present.  How one presents themselves in life, physically and mentally, can make the difference of getting hired or not considered for a job.  Also, it can be difficult to have or follow a conversation if the words being used have no meaning or understanding to them.  This is one of the concerns that I have with this type of format.

The other concern I have is that learning, in general, is something that is not done in 60 seconds or less.  When it comes to understanding what an event was truly about, the more details that are given means the more one can appreciate it; this applies not only to watching the news but the learning process itself. 

The issue here is if this way of processing and learning information becomes the norm, the whole education process would have to be watered down and so much vital details would be left out to condense it into a 60 second clip of learning.  This is another concern of how this format of watching the news could be problematic.

Should Stay Tuned continue to use this type of format?

I may be 47-years-old but I appreciate the busy lives everyone has and that the younger generation is used to getting the news through social media as well as news apps.  While I watch TV to get today’s headlines, I also use social media and news apps as well when I want to just get a summary of a certain event (Alex helps me as well).  However, I grew up being educated where much details had to be put into the learning process as well as knowing the higher my vocabulary level was, the better off I would be in continuing with my education and functioning more efficiently in life. 

Stay Tuned will become popular in no time and anyone who uses Snapchat will want to check it out.  I do wish them remarkable success so long as it doesn’t promote that a quick summary of something that occurred is the way the learning process should be.