March 3, 2015Published by: Sharmin Cheema-Kelly

Is the platform-publisher model the future of digital media?

Is the dress white and gold, or black and blue? Chances are you heard about the dress the world's been talking about through Facebook or Twitter.

While social media has traditionally been used to spread content which users think is interesting, hilarious or just plain confusing (like what colour the dress is!), social media channels are increasingly becoming platforms for media companies to promote their content on, as well as a place for channels such as Snapchat and LinkedIn to publish their own content.

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Pic credit - LoboStudioHamburg

More and more social media channels are looking to strengthen and monetise their publishing platforms while telling stories that appeal to their users in the hopes of keeping them coming back for more. However, the lines between journalism and advertising are blurring - when Instagram announced that it was boosting its journalistic team and required that new hires "popularise budding Instagram stars", journalists including Chris O'Shea of Adweek aired their frustrations, claiming that the outlined job scope was more advertising than journalism, or superfluous journalism at best, in their quest to "find the hidden meaning in a photo of a hedgehog".

Much as this might threaten journalism as a principled vocation, it would be a mistake to discount a channel like Instagram with its growing user base of over 300 million users - journalists would no doubt be lining up to fill these influential positions.

The introduction of Snapchat's latest news feature Discover and the fact that it has managed to provide a platform for media bigwigs including Yahoo, Vice and CNN to share their news content, has also outshone the fact that it has hired its own journalists for the platform including The Verge's Ellis Hamburger and MTV's Greg Wacks. Facebook and 'sleeping media giant' LinkedIn are also jumping on the platform-publisher bandwagon, with the latter hiring Fortune editor to help build its publishing platform although it has the upper hand as content is just a sideline business for them.

Streaming music services have also been fast to move into this space with Apple, Spotify, and Rhapsody all hiring journalists to help its users better navigate a vast musical landscape.

The lines between platform and publisher will continue to blur and we can't wait to see if this new breed of journalism will take off and how it will continue to shape the future of digital publishing.

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