“People think it’s just a chat app — how do you scale that in any way for news activity?“But the more I looked at it, I think it’s much more accurate to describe them as mobile-first social media sites, rather than just chat platforms.” Barot’s interest in experimenting with chat apps for news began during the London riots of 2011.

Send us your comments, including your name and location, and well try and feature some on our live page on the BBC News Website.” They followed up that post with this cartoon: The coverage continued for another day or two, with assorted maps, charts, and other news headlines — all this on a messaging app that doesn’t even have a function that serves brands and, supposedly, has no intention of becoming a publishing platform.

But around the world, traditional and new publishers are finding that chat apps have great potential for reaching new audiences and putting reporting into new contexts.

“If you were to ask people even a year ago, What’s the value of news organizations using Whats App?

, people would have looked quizzically at you,” says Trushar Barot, an assistant editor in charge of user generated content, who leads BBC’s Whats App initiative.

Since then, Barot has taken the lead on experimenting with messaging apps at the BBC, where he’s interested both in their potential for distribution and for user generated content and source building.

Barot selected the regions and platforms for his trial runs very specifically. “One, a market that we’re big in, or generate a lot of interest in.Secondly, where we think a particular app has got quite a lot of strength in terms of its user base.If you had followed BBC News India on Whats App on May 16, the day election results were announced after over a month of voting, you would have seen news updates in a variety of formats.In the early morning hours, there were alerts from vote counting, including screenshots of charts from the Election Commission: When the losing side conceded defeat, there was a post with an update when Prime Minster-elect Narendra Modi tweeted: Updates on final counts and local elections continued to flow in, half in English and half in Hindi.In the evening, the account posted a recording of Sonia Gandhi’s concession speech, followed by further results and transcribed statements, and then another audio recording, this one of BBC reporter Soutik Biswas giving his analysis.Toward the end of the day, the account posted a call out to the audience: “What’s your reaction to the election result?