Tag Archives: Instagram

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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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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From Instagram to Photoshop

I love Photoshop. As the Photo Editor of my high school paper I was able to mess around with the applications, though we were all about authenticity so we avoided any and all editing tools besides cropping. I come from a family of photographers. My aunt and uncle do it for a living and my cousins’ Facebook albums are full of high quality photographs – candids that look all too posed. (Check them out @ http://www.somlotalent.com/somlotalent.php)


A long-time program for touch-ups and exposure fixes, Photoshop seems to have fallen out of place for younger, less experienced photographers. Though the quality of the program is up-to-date, its flexibility in terms of mobility have diminished. Many photographers’ curiosity starts a lot younger than college, more about the time we get our first cellphones. We’re the kids that have a camera around our necks during school dances, random adventures and family vacations. For some, a camera is an easy birthday gift, something we learn to use and love ourselves. For myself, it was another opportunity for expression, a field separate from my writing, and it wasn’t long after I got my first camera that I was given my first cellphone, and at the time, the two didn’t have much in common.


Today – things are different.


If you glance at my call log, then switch back to the number of photos in my iPhone album, the numbers don’t compare. I won’t hesitate to say the reason … Instagram.


Its a program that has turned things around. People who used to simply smile in front of the lens are now behind the camera, documenting their own stories and, with captions, telling them their own way. It has features such as brightness, framing, cropping, focusing and black and white. The only major Photoshop tool this iPhone app seems to be lacking is red-eye, but let’s face it, iPhones have the capability to turn a camera flash on and off, even the strength to let you set things on auto, having the camera do the work for you. So, it really makes no difference.


I’m not saying that Photoshop isn’t important, or that its not worthy of the costly price tag attached to it, but its got some competition. Instagram also provides a forum to share photographs, in an essence, it has become a media outlet itself, as one can follow news sources and members of their community. Though I agree there is such a thing as oversharing in this fashion, I would argue that there is no reason a journalist shouldn’t make one.


It will, at least, prepare you for more sophisticated programs, such as Photoshop Elements.


From Instagram to Photoshop, let the inspiration be key to an easy transition.

– From,

An unidentified source.

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