“How do Le Monde do Snapchat Discover?” – Jean-Guillaume Santi explains at #ijf17

I’m at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, and this is a guest post from Beth Ashton, who is Head of audience at the Manchester Evening News. These are her notes from a session entitled “How Le Monde reports the news on Snapchat” which featured their Snapchat editor, Jean-Guillaume Santi

“Would a 14-year-old understand this?” – Jean-Guillaume Santi of Le Monde

What do the hottest social network for teenagers right now and the oldest form of consuming news have in common? Well, according to Le Monde’s Snapchat editor Jean-Guillaume Santi, quite a lot actually.

He believes that the model for creating Snapchat Discover has more in common than the print product than it does with digital journalism.

Le Monde have created over 200 editions on Discover To date. They consist of 10 ‘Top Snaps’ (10 second looping videos), some of which are expanded out into full stories.

At the weekend, the content takes on a different tone. Weekend editions can take more of a list format – 10 images that trick your eyes, for example – and The Big Picture is one story told in an entire edition using Top Snaps.

Santi has been given a tough task at International Festival Journalism. He can’t give much detail on what we all want to know – is the endeavour helping to save the future of journalism?

What he can talk about, though, is the work involved in delivering daily editions. In the beginning, they looked to people who worked in print to advise on how to make a newspaper.

Their team of six consist of an editor, two sub editors, two video editors and with motion designers, the latter of which Santi points to as a good sounding board to have around in the newsroom.

The editions created are bespoke to the platform. Sometimes they even publish on Snapchat first, and redo the content for other platforms.

The analogy he uses is that Le Monde are “renting the room” from Snapchat, and within that room they can change the colour of the walls and decorate it however they like.

But how do you decorate a room for someone who doesn’t live in your house? Who you’ve never met? Who you probably don’t have much in common with?

When the newspaper put it to their Snapchat audience, just 2 out of 760 people said that they read Le Monde somewhere else. The audience they are reaching is almost entirely new which, while it is unarguably impressive, presents a real challenge in terms of tone.

As a consequence of that, they often rewrite content that is first published elsewhere to fit.

Santi says that the benchmark is ‘Would a 14-year-old understand this?’ While at the same time says he ‘doesn’t want to produce something he’s not proud of’, so maintaining the essence of the brand while producing for a new audience is key.

Of course the question on everyone’s lips – and a recurring theme in the conference rooms and bars of Perugia – is about the financial gain.

Le Monde’s relationship with Snapchat is such that he can’t reveal the detail of the insights they can pull from the platform or anything at all do with money. What he does say that the paper is *really* happy with the performance so far and that, as you might have guessed, monetisation comes in the form of a revenue share between the two organisations.

This is a guest post by Beth Ashton. You can watch the “How Le Monde reports the news on Snapchat” session online. Find all my blog posts from the 2017 International Journalism Festival.