The Washington Post Twitch Channel is the Most 2018 Way to Watch News
The all new Washington Post Twitch channel is now live, complete with a running chat, emotes to react to current news, and videos of politicians playing video games.
The news industry is constantly evolving. From newspapers to radio to TV to online to social media, news has always been at the forefront of technological changes. So it should come as no surprise that one of the biggest news organizations in the world is heading to one of the breakout mediums of the last few years: livestreaming.
Last week, the Washington Post Twitch channel went live. The channel began with 50 videos uploaded, each giving a bite-sized look at current news – some of which offer commentary in familiar picture-in-picture format used by streamers. And when the streams are live, it offers the familiar Twitch chat, including emotes you can purchase. More clips have been added since, including a somewhat bizarre series where politicians play video games while answering questions.
Bringing politicians onto Twitch and using video games to interview them is a very weird idea, and yet it is oddly fitting with the way we consume media in 2018. One of the recent interviews was with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, who appeared and played Madden. Gaetz is earning a reputation for doing things like inviting holocaust deniers to the State of the Union and defending Trump on the way to earning his endorsement. Having him show up and play games is odd, but honestly not a bad way to introduce him to a new audience. Gaetz is 36-years old, so it fits – it would be a little weirder to see someone like Mitch McConnel or Nancy Pelosi give it a go, but politicians are typically happy to do whatever will get them re-elected.
For these types of clips and all news coverage, viewers can watch the news and comment in real time, making it an interactive experience of sorts. It doesn’t offer the same level of discourse that social media does (for better or worse), but it does make the experience partially interactive. And through that, it connects the people to the content.
If you aren’t familiar with Twitch and don’t get why it has become such an incredibly popular platform, just find something streaming live you have even a moderate interest in and jump in. Twitch is known for its gaming streamers, but it’s expanding beyond that. For instance, it just completed a classic Doctor Who marathon, and each day thousands of people watched for hours at a time. Think of it like watching a TV show you like with other fans, but without the interruptions of hearing anyone speaking over the original sounds. It offers a new way to watch an old piece of content, and it feels like community.
It’s difficult to tell at this point how Twitch will react to news, much of which will be political in nature. Twitch has delved into this arena before, especially during the 2016 campaigns, and the results were mostly good. There was, of course, plenty of trolling, but a strict set of moderation guidelines paired with live mods helped to keep things civil. Basically, it turned into a steady stream of comedy (which wasn’t a bad thing during the DNC and GOP conventions).
The move isn’t too much of a surprise, given the numerous connections between all the companies involved. Washington Post is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, while Twitch is owned by Amazon. It’s corporate synchronicity at its finest. The question now is whether or not fans on Twitch will give the news a chance, or if fans of the news will wonder what all the Twitch talk is about and check it out. Time will tell.