Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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Upworthy breathes life into content

Now I may be a bit behind, but I have a deep fascination with

Its history is unique, and it’s reflected within the content they chose to cover. Started by experienced journalists, Upworthy is in fact a biased, left-wing account. Unlike most media outlets, they do not deny it. Its About Us page outlines its point of views as having stances for gay marriage, against child poverty, a negative view on media coverage of women and a critical stance of government ineffectiveness.

Its satirical commentary fits the audience it hopes to captivate. And though it does not declare itself as objective, they do fact-check work.

I am still uneasy on assuming with absolute certainty that Upworthy is a reliable source, but after a friend posted the video I attached via Facebook, I have no doubt in my mind that what the site is doing is effective.

This video’s message is to not let exam results affect your fate. In a “spoken-word” portrayal, one man discusses how we (students) will not use all the things we study in school in the real world, and how what is really important is an education, not a grade point average. The idea is controversial, yet narrowly focused. It is something the audience cares about. The examples he gives are easily referenced by teenagers.

The video itself is not distracting, so the audience listens closer to the lyrics. It also incorporates written text to outline and draw attention to specific points made. The coloring also appears to be chosen for a specific influence (a bold red resembling strength).

I find that if this topic were to be presented in text-form or perhaps in a slideshow, its strength would weaken. Text is generally more boring and may in fact contradict the video’s message of education reform, and slideshows do not allow a vocal presence.

Though the format of the discussion is non-traditional, the content of the poem/rap did appear accurate. Despite my own personal political beliefs, I would certainly declare this a new form of journalism.

In reference to Carl Bernstein, Upworthy is by no means afraid to make a splash.

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The importance of sound

The importance of sound

They call it being a visual learner right? The idea that one can better interpret material and retain it by being witness to visual stimuli?


Then why do viewers pay more attention to content with audio? Particularly, natural sound.


This thought has been on my mind a lot lately. As a natural debater, I just could not find myself aligning with these principles…. until now.


This work, done by The New York Times, is titled “Illegal Logging Thrives in Peru, Environmentalists Say.” Now before I even go into the lesson I’ve learned, and ramble on about how this work proved me wrong, that headline… it diminishes their credibility in the sheer fact that they feel they must attribute it so prominently. I understand its purpose, but find it would fit better later on, it does not lure me to the slideshow, which has FANTASTIC SHOTS.

The photographs are unique. The coloring often sets the tone, and no one shot appears similar. The photos’ order, though I am unsure if it is purposeful, tells a story from one angle to the next. A rare, but interesting take from the usual chronological style. The captions are short and for a tough topic to cover, are simplistic enough to allow some take-away. What this story is lacking however, is crucial audio. I cannot say I was satisfied with just images. I wanted to hear that chainsaw tearing down trees and hear the cries of people from the community affected by it. I guess I wanted something real. And just looking through the eyes of a subject, you can tell there is a deeper story than what meets the eye.


That, I’m afraid is what audio is for.


If I were to do this piece as an assignment, I would not change one thing regarding the content and quality of the images, but instead would record and report on the multiple perspectives from the community. It could take a more humanistic angle. Telling viewers over seas, why THEY should care.


But alas, perhaps one day I too will receive the opportunity to report abroad.

Until then —

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The Daisy Ad (1964)

Its not often that advertisements are picked apart piece by piece. They typically air in 30 second increments, and in my opinion, that’s just enough time to grab your attention and be visually stimulated. It’s not however, enough time to digest details of a package and interpret its effect. One of the greatest examples of the impact advertisements can have is within a campaign video.

The “Daisy Girl” ad was supportive of President Johnson’s campaign against Gary Goldwater. Though the classic image of the little girl picking the petals of the flower seems simple and romantic, in actuality its message is not. Followed by an mushroom cloud, this ad is a dig towards Goldwater’s stance toward using atomic bombs. Simple, yet it says so much. Unlike voters, Goldwater and his advisers took the message as it was implied, a diss to his name. He sued, despite the fact that Johnson never once included his opponent’s name.

Its not often that we see such compelling advertisements. And when we do, its for retail and consumers rather than seeking voters to the voting booths. The Daisy ad was so unique to the age that many people claim to have seen it run over and over again on television, though after Goldwater’s lawsuit filing, it was stripped from television. It only aired once!

Though I am no master in strategic communications I find I’ve learned a crucial message through taking the time to stop and interpret this ad. Like Daisy, messages should be simple but layered. Sometimes a single image or phrase can communicate more than expected. It also reminds me to never underestimate my audience, but to anticipate their interpretation.

Some may argue that advertising seems misplaced within the journalism school. But at its core are the same values as of those placed into all multimedia.

As a voter I hope to look for advertisements that reach viewership with a strong and rememberable message, one that uses suggestion rather than direct finger-pointing, one that is subtle but significant.

And for that, I thank Daisy.

On “dead” news days

All personal judgements aside on Miley Cyrus. This one’s against ABC.

On Oct. 7 the news organization posted a link: [ ] to its Twitter account.

Now I know one should never rest all faith in a news organization, but I find that ABC does a nice job with news coverage. It has nice interactive graphics, make its broadcasts simple and pays more attention to getting the news right than to getting it out first.

But this article, under the headline: What Miley Cyrus’ Tongue Says About Her Health, is outrageous. It’s by no means newsworthy. It does not apply to ABC’s audience and uses a legitimate source (a doctor from NYU) in a poor light. I am not sure if the article is meant to inform or generate laughs.


From a journalist perspective the multimedia is fitting to the headline, but not much of the written content. Miley Cyrus is used as a brief segway into a longer and deeper issue of detecting cancers by analyzing one’s tongue. It is suggestive, and if not read carefully, could mean accusations and invalid evaluations of Cyrus’ tongue.

This piece of journalism is a reminder to me that we, journalists, do not go out looking for stories, but let stories come to us. Or else we too will face the ridicule on Twitter, mocking our story choice. Just because there is no big headline-worthy news, does not mean a journalist can put two stories together like a mismatched puzzle.


If I had to guess, the clicks to this content are solely based on the fact that Cyrus is involved. If we put a non-celebrity name on the headline the content is no longer appealing.


Though an interesting attempt to blur lines and mesh entertainment, news and science together, it does not work well for ABC. But again, perhaps if this serves as a wake-up call for some people (lured to the article through big names) it did some justice.


Note to audience: I did make it through this entire article.

Note to self: re-evaluate where I get my news from.

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Perfect – By ESPN

One of the best multimedia projects I have ever seen. Telling the story of Heath White, a FBI agent, former pilot and marathon runner and his confession.

Quick overview of his story: Heath was, by most peoples’ definitions, perfect. He graduated college with a 4.0, played sports, got a license and married his high school sweetheart. He had a healthy baby girl in 2005. His wife was pregnant again in 2006. With early testing they discovered their daughter Paisley had Down Syndrome. Heath confesses he tried everything he could to convince his wife to have an abortion. She couldn’t do it. When Paisley was born Heath felt disconnected from his family. He stopped running marathons. He was ashamed at not being perfect and couldn’t understand why this had happened to him. It wasn’t until he was tickling Paisley, and she giggled and smiled that Heath realized she was just like any other kid. To show his pride he began running again, only this time with Paisley (via stroller). He has come a long way he says, and knows his confession of his true feelings will hurt his daughter some day. But, he says, if he can convince a father out of feeling the way he did and making the wrong decision, it will be worth it.

Some multimedia notes to pay attention to while watching the video:

1. This was put together by ESPN. I know ESPN has gifted photographers, videographers and writers but this sort of feature and soft news material was unexpected. But! Exactly what this industry needs. The relation to sports was subtle, the true message not as relatable, but it widened its audience and challenged its normal viewers to think beyond the scope of a scoreboard.
2. Audio. What excellent work of silence. Using pauses as Heath explained his emotions made the story come to life. It drew attention to video detail behind the audio. Natural sound complemented the video and aided in the story-telling. We heard Paisley laugh when Heath spoke of her laughter. There was raw video of Heath’s proposal to his wife and collected photographs from his past runs/her ultrasound that fit as visuals. There was also no background noise that was unnecessary such as a reporter playing with the camera or fidgeting.
3. Video. Lots of angles. The videographer clearly spent time with the family in multiple settings allowing for such variety. He/she collected old footage as well which was crucial to understanding Heath’s obsession with perfection. The time lengths of video varied and the range of focus (depth of view) did as well. Video was laced with voice-overs. The quality overall was fantastic and the characters weren’t looking directly into the shots making them all the more natural and realistic.

It is inspiring work like this that makes me want to study convergence journalism.

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Evans’ Family – A father’s love

Evans’ Family – A father’s love

It’s said that a picture can speak a thousand words. And I guess I believe it. I’ve seen it before within professionals work. But I think most great examples are seen overseas, perhaps instances of war, of heartbreak or loss. I find it less often that photos speak to us in moments of love. Not particularly an overcoming triumph, but in moments relatable. This slideshow features Fred Evans a man who was given months to live after being diagnosed with Melanoma following a double lung transplant. It does an amazing job of telling a moment of his story on all accounts. Below I will address those that stood out most to me.


Captions. I never undermine their value beneath photographs… but what about slideshows? The words have to be carefully selective to encourage a viewer to click on the movie. This caption reads: “After learning he had just months to live, Fred wanted to surprise two of his daughters and wife with a special gift. An inspiring story of  Father’s love to his family.” I find the language delicate and not too revealing. It does not explicitly say what this gift is, making viewers want to click the movie to find out.


The text. Though we will not be working with text in our slideshows, the perfect amount of text appears. It is easy to read, timed well with the background music and gives us enough information to pick up right where a scene leaves off – in the church aisle.


The photos. They capture emotion. The photographer wasn’t afraid to show us a deeper side of the characters. There is variety between black and white photos, and while I cannot figure why the photographer chose to do some some way and others another, the attention to detail is complimented by each. The transitions are fluid as well. It acts as a story would, from beginning to end. The shots vary in depth of field and perspective as well.


The audio. Though it is said that natural sound catches the ears of listeners, this piece worked perfectly with the music. The photos were timed to the lyrics and its tone fit the message of the story. I think natural sound would have interfered with the story the photographs were telling. It called for further attention to detail. That sometimes its not the things we say that have the biggest impact on our lives, but the things we do.

The combination of emotion and careful placement of photos and music allow for a remarkable story to be told. It picked at a detail of Frank Evans’ story and told it in a way that made viewers focus on a message and the sights before them.

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