A group of master's students on City University's journalism course launched a news curation service today, using email and social media to reach a young mobile UK audience.
The Morning Memo, aimed at young commuters, uses Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and email to deliver regular doses of UK, technology, science and business news, with the occasional "and finally..." piece of light-hearted news.
"The idea behind this is that we all have friends who want to read the news and give excuses for not having the time," Siraj Datoo, the 23-year-old founder of The Morning Memo, told Journalism.co.uk, "but when they're on the train they're on Facebook or Instagram and they could be doing something more with their time."
Although some viral news stories would naturally appear in people's social news feeds, like UsVsTh3m's scoop on concrete spilled in the Victoria Line, Datoo said, a story like the Guardian's article about 26 million CCTV images generated each day may be missed.
"It's mixing the viral news with stuff that people might be concerned about or want to know about but wouldn't necessarily click on normally," he said.
Datoo will take turns in preparing the newsletter each evening with science editor Sarah Spickernell and technology editor Kadhim Shubber as "something fairly short, informal in tone and occasionally funny", he said.
"It is definitely for younger people who will generally already get their news from social media," Datoo continued, explaining how the Morning Memo's Twitter feed will be regularly populated with links that the team post to Pinboard, then tweeted using a combination of scheduling tool Buffer and productivity app If This Then That.
"The newsletter is something other people are doing," he said, "and obviously we're targeting a different audience, but I think Instagram buys into the same mentality that we're targeting young people."
The Morning Memo joins the BBC's Instafax in using Instagram video to deliver short news updates, but Datoo said this will be the platform where the team will have to "learn and iterate a lot".
"Instagram is a really great way of reaching people and getting them the news," he said, "even if they don't want to get a newsletter or they don't really care about the news – as there are some people who are built that way – but they feel they should."
"It might work, it might fail, but if no one really tries it then we don't know."
Datoo admitted that The Morning Memo is an experiment but hopes the combination of an informal tone and social media use will appeal to a younger audience and allow the team to integrate more long-form content in the future.
"There are ways to build things in and write longer-form stories, or brief explainers about things that people keep hearing about but don't necessarily read," he said, "like 'what is Bitcoin?'
"It's been done but if it's on a scale and platform that is very obviously targeting a younger audience then people might be more interested or willing to click."
Free daily newsletter
- App for journalists: PhotoGrid, for creating eye-catching images on Instagram
- 10 tips for introducing mobile journalism into local newsrooms
- Half of publishers bet on reader revenue as their main income stream in 2020
- What did the 2010s mean for the media industry?
- Tip: Drive deeper audience engagement on Instagram