Less than three years after its creation, their ac2ality account is followed by 4.3 million people, a number of subscribers far higher than that of most major media on this social network.
The idea emerged when two of them, then students in London, faced between 2016 and 2020 an overflow of information about Brexit.
"We were reading a bunch of (newspaper) articles, but we couldn't get a more general understanding" of the subject, said Gabriela Campbell, a 26-year-old biotechnology graduate. If "it was difficult for us, it must be difficult for others," she said.
With the mantra of "translating newspapers" into one-minute videos and without pretending to call themselves journalists, they decided in June 2020, with two other friends, to create ac2ality at a time when the Chinese social network, with short and vertical videos, is spreading at a lightning speed among young people.
According to a report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, attached to the University of Oxford, ac2ality is now the first Spanish-language news account on TikTok.
Created in minutes using a smartphone, a circular lamp, and a few rudimentary images, their video telling the story of the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 has been viewed more than 17 million times.
"Talking to a generation"
Social networks, including YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, have become the first sources of information among young people according to various studies, such as that of the British regulator Ofcom dating from July.
Paula Muñoz Soriano, co-founder of Ac2ality, works in Las Rozas, near Madrid, February 8, 2023 © PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP
If media created "by young people and for young people" on the networks have already become heavyweights, like Brut in France, "from now on, it is no longer necessarily companies" that are at the origin of news accounts, but "simple individuals" able to "reach a gigantic number of people" thanks to the recommendations of algorithms, Nic Newman, a researcher at Reuters, told AFP.
In France, HugoDécrypte is one of the most followed news accounts and has managed to interview Emmanuel Macron or Bill Gates. Its founder, YouTuber Hugo Travers, 25, claims, in an interview with AFP, to know how to "speak to a generation" some of which "dropped out" when it "followed the news in the more traditional media".
The popularity of these accounts on the networks, "where the media fight for our attention" in a context of "infobesity", lies in their short, didactic, creative formats, in a lighter tone, observes Susana Pérez Soler, professor of digital journalism and researcher at the Ramón Llull University of Barcelona.
While warning that it is, in the case of ac2ality, a "summary" of the news and "not journalism", which requires "investigative work (...) and verification of the veracity of sources".
The millions of subscribers of these accounts are sometimes coveted by major media looking to renew their audience.
YouTubeur Hugo Travers, 25, founder of "Hugo Décrypte", on February 24, 2022 in Paris © STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP/Archives
Approached by a large Spanish group, ac2ality has so far preferred to keep its distance, its co-founder Daniela Álvarez explaining that "one of the keys" of its success "is not to be associated with media", which are sometimes "politicized" or have too cumbersome procedures.
"What is at stake here is not necessarily the means you have, the group, if you are installed in the environment (...) that's what you bring," said Hugo Travers.
Other journalists, employed by media, create their own content on the networks, such as the British Sophia Smith Galer, who has more than 130 million views on her TikTok account, where she talks about sexual health.
"I'm my own editor" on TikTok and "don't have to convince a temple-guardian editor that a topic is important," says the 28-year-old Vice News reporter who believes that "important" topics for young people, such as those she addresses, are not covered by the mainstream media.
In some cases, however, 15-30 year olds still turn to traditional media, says Nic Newman. "When you talk about something like Ukraine, a lot of young people don't want it to be presented to them by 18-year-olds, but by people who are in a war zone and really know what they're talking about."
© 2023 AFP