Monthly Archives: November 2013

Using Instagram to cover breaking news

Using Instagram to cover breaking news

Covering breaking news is tough. Often times it starts with the big fish and their connections, slowly trickling down to local media sources, who do little of their own reporting. However, national disaster stories offer a great opportunity for local media. They are times that they can prevail and beat major news sources to the punch.

An example of this are the tornadoes that swept through southern Illinois this past weekend. Reports from news outlets went back and forth on damage records and fatality counts. Though major news networks were tweeting up a storm (puny, I know), the photographs and personal accounts came through local networks. The more accurate numbers came from Chicago-based papers.

Sifting through the coverage is important to those who may have been or know someone who may have been affected by the disaster, but to others, far away with no connections, it’s of less importance. That is until relief efforts are underway.


That’s why I found the attached article, by NPR so striking. It used Instagram photos to tell the story. The photos present different angles, are quick to read, and are powerful as stand-alones. And now, with the Instagram update, they can include video! I commend NPR for being original in its coverage, and judging by the comments on the site, I think it paid off.

I suppose the only thing I question with including tools like Instagram is the sense of organization and selection (why pick those photos? is there a profit bias? a selection bias?) and how can we, as journalists, ensure they are valid and accurate. Plus, I wonder, and leave you with this question: was it ethical to take the photos? Is a formal attribution necessary?


Being from Chicago, my thoughts are with the people whose lives have been affected.

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How social media can cretae its own story

How social media can cretae its own story

Well. Today is Veteran’s Day. And I cannot help but feel bad that I did nothing to honor our troops. Sure I saw flags flying, but one, it is hard to take a day of remembrance when you still have 4 classes to attend, and two, being away from my family on a day like today seems unjust. Though I am sure most were sincere, my Facebook and Twitter feed filled up with status of reflection and photos of recollection. On national holidays social media seems to be swarming with timelines, family photos, famous quotes and features.


This year, as I searched through my pages, I found a unique article. An angle I had never seen before, and timely enough to be making its way around the web on this holiday.

With the headline: “A Veteran Died with Nobody to Attend his Funeral – What happened Next was Incredibly Moving.” I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Journalistically its not entirely optimistic, but I am not sure that the author had this intention. Either way, it wasn’t revealing, thus grabbing my attention.


The story is about a man named Harold who was a WW2 Vet. He died last month at 99 years old. His name and story appeared in a local paper. Not highlighted with a large photo, or placed on a primer page, but under the obituaries, as normal. Harold did not have any close friends or family around to bury him. The obituary called upon local servicemen to please attend in his honor.


Now, one reader found Harold’s story incredibly disheartening. He took a snapshot of the newspaper article and tweeted “So sad …. I do hope someone can attend.”

No where in the original post are designated intentions for the photo to go viral … but it did. Thus again displaying the inevitable power of social media. Buzzfeed, the news forum in which I uncovered the article, shows photographs of the image being circulated across Twitter.

Not only for the death announce, but for the funeral as well. As recorded via mobile journalism, hundreds of people showed up to Harold’s funeral. Photos were published of mourners young and old, servicemen and community members. Each telling its own story.


Not only do I think this is an amazing example of what good journalism, and social media can do for the community, but I think it is an example of decency. No photo was meant to attract a profit, suggest a bias or draw in readers. Rather it was a simplistic means of expression to honor someone who fought for our country.

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Sustain Mizzou combats e-waste through electronic drop-off

A piano keyboard, broken down to its simplest components, sits on display at Sustain Mizzou's event on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2013 outside the Student Center.

A piano keyboard, broken down to its simplest components, sits on display at Sustain Mizzou’s event on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2013 outside MU’s Student Center.

Jackson Hambrick greets students who stop by Sustain Mizzou's tent, located outside of MU's Student Center on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2013.

Jackson Hambrick greets students who stop by Sustain Mizzou’s tent, located outside of MU’s Student Center on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2013.

Example of waste

In addition to the waste drive, another project of Sustain Mizzou is placing cell phone collection boxes throughout MU's campus.

In addition to the waste drive, another project of Sustain Mizzou is placing cell phone collection boxes throughout MU’s campus.

The inside of Mid-Mo Recycling's trailer. The products inside will be broken down into components and sold to companies throughout the U.S.

The inside of Mid-Mo Recycling’s trailer. The products inside will be broken down into components and sold to companies throughout the U.S.

The trailer for Mid-Mo Recycling sits in the parking lot of MU’s Student Center, but it’s mostly empty. It is there to house electronics students no longer need. The project is hosted by Sustain Mizzou, an organization that promotes sustainable living through educating the public about protecting the environment.

Sustain Mizzou’s waste drive will last through Friday, Nov. 8. Volunteers, like Jackson Hambrick, will accept electronics such as: laptops, televisions, calculators, microwaves and cell phones.

Hambrick said the event collects an average of 5 tons of recyclables every semester. Last semester it reached 5.2 tons. Hambrick said he hopes the project will continue to grow. As vice president of programming, Hambrick was stationed at the event for an afternoon shift.

When asked where the products go following collection, he explained that Mid-Mo Recycling takes the electronics and breaks them into components. The components are then sold to other companies within the United States. A special emphasis was placed on components being sold within the country because Hambrick said other countries, like India, melt the products in an open fire and chemicals escape.

According to Hambrick, Columbia residents can drop off electronics throughout the year at Mid-Mo Recycling.

But, “they will have to pay a fee to dispose them. It could range from $5 to $30,” he said.

Instead, electronics can be disposed of for free. Flyers around campus list products that will be accepted. There is a wide variety of items, however, Tube TVs (CRT) will be turned away due to a high led powder content.

“We find some weird stuff that people have. Lots of fax machines, surprisingly,” Hambrick said.

Some students, many of which study engineering, play a different role in the waste drive. Individuals can look through the trailer and take what they want from it.

A couple of years ago, a Sustain Mizzou volunteer found a Macbook Pro inside. He just had to replace the keyboard for a couple hundred dollars, Hambrick joked.

First Instagram Ad will be Michael Kors

First Instagram Ad will be Michael Kors

The caption:  “5:15 PM: Pampered in Paris #MKTimeless”

When news broke that Instagram would begin accepting paid advertising, many users were outraged. The media platform was unique due to the fact that its forums were able to transform the average photo taker to a self-proclaimed artist.

The company promised that ads were not going to be too intrusive. But c’mon, who would believe that? Throughout history ads had to become more colorful, more bold, more graphic to outshine competition.

But, the question is, how does a marketing department shift the norm and create non “intrusive pop-ups but rather “beautiful, high-quality photos and videos?”

After reading this piece presented by the Huffington Post, I am pleased to announce that Instagram kept its word. The first ad, sponsored by Micheal Kors, features a gold watch, classically-styled, outlined in diamonds. Its background is equally as colorful, but not the overwhelming boldness we, consumers, are used to. Using a slight blur, we see golden china and pastel pastries. Just enough focus is given to the object, and product at task.

In all honesty, the ad looks nothing like its selling a product. More an artsy attempt at displaying a gift. This changes consumer thinking. It captivates the eye longer without text displayed across the screen. And though the image does look perfect, its setting is much more natural.

The caption, listed above, also does not come off as demanding. No catchy lines are used, it’s simple and includes a message/brand name is a hashtag. This is useful in my opinion, on a marketing front, since images with the same hashtag can be grouped together. Instagram users can search for hashtags and see photos tagged with the same content.

Mobile is becoming the dominate news information choice. Companies are changing their philosophy.

According to the article, people who followed Michael Kors on Instagram saw the photo as a normal Instagram post. But to other users, it comes with the label “sponsored.” In the comments section on this post, a lot of people critiqued the thought of an ad invasion, but to me, its a mode of discovery. I never would have thought to present a watch that way and it is absolutely affective.

What this article does not answer is how Instagram will decide what ads you will see. If it will be geared toward things you like, tracking your interest. Perhaps then attitudes will shift.

Time will tell.

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