In this photo illustration the app of Snapchat is displayed on a smartphone on September 27, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
In this photo illustration the app of Snapchat is displayed on a smartphone on September 27, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.  Thomas Trutschel—Photothek/Getty Images

Snapchat Is Bringing Back its News Show to Cover Donald Trump

Mar 08, 2017

In many ways, January 2016 seems like a lifetime ago. That's when a company then known as Snapchat debuted a political news show starring its head of news, former CNN reporter Peter Hamby, partly to cover the wacky presidential campaign of one Donald Trump.

Now, Donald Trump is the president, and Snapchat—since renamed Snap Inc.—is worth about $25 billion (snap) after its recent initial public offering last week. But while the company says it sees itself more as a camera company than a media company, it appears to still be interested in experimenting with using its service as a platform for delivering news.

On Wednesday, the company announced that it is bringing Hamby's politics show—called Good Luck, Americaback for a second "season" in order to try to explain Donald Trump to the service's audience of millennials. The mission is to "help Snapchatters make sense of a weird time in America," a company representative told Variety.

Based on the first episode of the new season, the show will continue to incorporate Hamby's informal reporting style and perambulations about the U.S., to talk with politicians, political observers, and regular citizens about their new president.

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"America's in a pretty weird place right now. Let me show you what's really going on," the Snapchat reporter says. "Everything you thought you knew about American politics, you can just flush down Donald Trump's golden toilet. Does he have a golden shower too?"

In his first outing for the new show, Hamby talks with Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), both of whom use Snapchat regularly, and with former Bush speechwriter David Frum. Future episodes will feature Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, and Jon Lovett, a former aide to President Obama.

During the first version of the show, Hamby traveled to various caucus locations, interviewed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, tried to explain the race in layman's terms—and also played to the crowd by featuring wacky candidates like Deez Nuts, a 15-year-old social-media sensation.

The company says the first season of Good Luck, America had more than 22 million unique viewers during the election campaign, which is impressive for a political news show that appears inside a video-based messaging app.

Although Snap is focused on its future as a camera company, it still needs to show high user engagement numbers and growing audiences in order to prove its value as an advertising platform, especially with its sky-high market valuation. Presumably it is hoping that Hamby's political show will help drive users to spend more time on the service and thus sell more ads.

Although Snap's IPO was enthusiastically received, some analysts question the company's future as an advertising vehicle because they say that young users don't pay much attention to ads. There is also concern that the service is losing momentum to Instagram, which has duplicated many of its features.

At one time, Snapchat showed some interesting potential as a crowdsourced news platform, curating user-generated video "stories" around news events like the San Bernardino terrorist shooting by using its geographically-based filtering technology. But the company seems to have de-emphasized those efforts in its pursuit of its multibillion-dollar IPO.

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