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The timeline: 30 days. The mantra: “TikTok, we don’t stop.”
Last month, Cronkite News challenged itself to produce 30 TikToks in as many days — an effort to get the newsroom experimenting with the short-form mobile video platform that’s gained more than a billion users since its worldwide launch in 2017, but has yet to catch on widely with local TV stations.
The idea came from Katelyn Keenehan, a senior here at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and a reporter with Cronkite News, the student-run news division of Arizona PBS. Last summer, she created a personal TikTok account and started recording videos delivering the headlines of the day — all under the 60-second time limit. She says they caught on with a surprisingly large audience, especially given that the platform is best known for viral dance trends and fun visual effects.
“Within like two months, it had 45,000 followers,” says Keenehan of her account. “It was one of those things where I really realized: Okay, there is a really big audience on this app for news. It’s just not the same audience that we’re seeing for broadcast.”
Half of TikTok’s users fall between the ages of 10 and 29. So Keenehan pitched the Cronkite News experiment as a kind of low-pressure laboratory for testing out different ways to connect with that coveted demographic: “How do we make things appealing for Gen Z? How do you grab their attention within the first second or two? How do