This report explores how chat apps alter reportage, allowing journalists to acquire multimedia information, pursue stories, access private networks (particularly in contexts of censorship), and organize news production. Chat apps are becoming a common tool for newsgathering; they allow journalists to sit in on conversations and get in touch with potential sources, particularly in countries such as China where more public social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) are not as commonly used. Today, the most popular chat app, WhatsApp, has more than one billion monthly active users. Young, mobile people have shifted away from public networks to private chat apps because they are easier to use and offer greater privacy under surveillance. The report is a case study of chat apps usage in covering the recent youth protests in Hong Kong.
Project lead: Valerie Belair-Gagnon
Team members: Colin Agur, Nick Frisch