Instagram gives news orgs tips on using its video feature

Instagram for Business

News organizations can use Instagram’s new video feature to break news, crowdsource and lift the curtain on their operations, the company writes in a blog post.

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Instagram for newsrooms: A community tool, a reporting tool, a source of Web content

For news organizations, Instagram isn’t just about pretty pictures. It’s about the people they’re interacting with and the stories behind the images.

“Instagram is so immediate and intimate that it creates this close connection with the user,” said Cory Haik, executive producer for digital news at The Washington Post. The Post uses Instagram to share photos, collect photos from users, report stories and have personal interactions with its audience. It’s a strategy aimed not at driving traffic but at building community.

The Washington Post solicited Instagram photos of snow from readers. (Courtesy The Washington Post)

“What we ask ourselves about Instagram,” Haik said by phone, “is ‘are we having a meaningful conversation with our users?’”

Instagram for engagement

At the Chicago Tribune, each week brings a new theme for Instagram users to contribute photos around. “Our approach to Instagram at the Tribune is to make sure followers are included whenever possible. So while we do post photos from staff photographers from big events, we spend much of our time focusing on weekly themes and showcasing the photos of the people who engage with us,” Chicago Tribune Social Media Editor Scott Kleinberg said via email.

NBC News makes weekly callouts related to topics in the news like the Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, holiday weekends and graduation season. It also gives users multiple opportunities to contribute. “A few days after you make a callout people tend to forget about it,” Anthony Quintano, senior community manager for NBC News, said by phone. “We remind them by featuring user photos.”

Quintano said NBC News’ Instagram feed started as an avenue to showcase behind-the-scenes photographs. It has since grown into one of the more prominent news feeds on Instagram. Still, Instagram isn’t a major source of traffic for NBC and other news sites.

An NBC Instagram shot by Frank Thorp V of Michael Isikoff doing a standup in Boston.

“Instagram is more about engagement and brand awareness,” Olivia Hubert-Allen, The Baltimore Sun’s deputy director of audience engagement, said during a phone call.

Quintano suggests newsrooms respond to their followers and to the comments left on photos. He also recommends liking user-submitted photos, particularly those shared in response to a callout. “We use a like as a thank-you and acknowledgment that we’ve seen your photo,” he said.  “The idea there’s a human being behind the account is what you really want.”

Instagram for reporting

When ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott was working on a story about Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, he sought out Instagram’s help.

About six weeks after he became chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Hensarling’s political action committee held a fundraiser at a fancy Utah ski resort. Elliott imagined it was the kind of event people would likely capture with Instagram. “Thats just what people do when they’re on ski vacations,” he said.

Elliott searched Instagram through the site Statigram looking for photos tagged at the St. Regis Deer Valley hotel, where the fundraiser was held. “I went through the photos and looked at each user and tried to figure out if they were a lobbyist or lobbyist family member,” he said. While Elliott found no evidence the fundraiser broke campaign finance rules, he did find and publish a photo posted by a lobbyist who declined to comment for his story.

ProPublica has sinced developed an open-source tool for searching Instagram.

“If you’re trying to background a person or institution, it’s always good to look at Twitter, Instagram anything you can find on social media,” Elliott said. “If it’s something widely attended, by maybe a couple of hundred people, there’s a decent chance you’ll find photos.” Read more


Smartphones captured 2 iconic shots of new World Trade Center

NBC News’s Anthony Quintano “was on the roof of One World Trade where all the iron workers were watching the spire rise,” he tells Poynter in an email. (Workers at One World Trade attached the building’s spire Friday morning.) Quintano used his iPhone 5 to take the following Instagram picture of a worker taking in the view.

Courtesy Anthony Quintano
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ProPublica releases simple tool for searching Instagram


ProPublica news application developer Al Shaw discovered an Instagram API that lets you search by both time and geographic coordinates — “a perfect way to see who’s at a certain place at a certain time,” Shaw writes.

He built a simple tool called QIS, or Quick Instagram Search, that journalists could use to find Instagram photos at newsworthy events. “Just having fun with it, we found a lot of interesting stuff,” he said in a phone call with Poynter. “Anything you could type into Google Maps would work.”

One example from Shaw’s post: a photo of the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15 minutes before it was bombed. QIS could conceivably help newsrooms verify photos from breaking news events. Read more

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NYT’s front-page Instagram: Maybe not the end of photography

Nick Laham | The New York Times | Business Insider | The Wall Street Journal

Nick Laham “took what space I could get and worked with it” to capture of New York Yankees players on the team’s photo day.

So yes. That was me in the locker room bathroom shooting portraits of the New York Yankees players with my iPhone.

He processed the photos with Instagram, and one ended up on the front of The New York Times Sunday:

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Instagram changes terms of service, but will pro photographers flee anyway?

Instagram | Read Write Web | Time | The Verge
Instagram says it’s going to delete language from its new terms of service that caused widespreading out-freaking across the Internet.

The language we proposed … raised [the] question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.

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Twitter-Instagram photo war reveals new business realities of social networks

The photo-sharing turf war is escalating, with Twitter copying Instagram-like features and Instagram (owned by Facebook) no longer making its photos viewable within tweets.

No matter which company wins, users will lose.

It seems time to just accept that Facebook and Twitter’s forget-about-money-and-put-users-first startup phase is over. Both companies are pivoting hard toward monetization and market-share protection as their primary goals.

Promoted tweets and sponsored stories are filling up timelines and news feeds. Facebook Page owners are relentlessly pestered to fork over cash for better visibility of their posts. And third-party developers are increasingly being disempowered.

The networks have shifted focus from creating value to capturing value. And to capture value, they each feel the need to lock users into their own platforms and reduce integration, thus limiting competition.

A quick history of the photo-sharing wars

In 2011, Twitter launched its own photo hosting and sharing service, rather than rely on third parties like Yfrog or Twitpic.

After trying and failing to dominate the market with its own Facebook Camera mobile app, Facebook was willing to pay $1 billion – over $28 per user at the time —  to acquire Instagram this year.

In July, Twitter stopped letting Instagram users sync their Twitter friends list with the service.

Twitter now plans, perhaps by the end of the year, to launch photo filters that would mimic Instagram’s popular feature. And Instagram just decided to stop letting Twitter show its photos embedded inside tweets. Tweets can still link to an Instagram picture, but the user will have to open the link in a Web browser to view it.

Writing at GigaOM, Mathew Ingram surmises that Twitter is motivated by “ambitions as a media entity,” which means it “is trying hard to monetize or at least to exert some control over content that is being created by other companies, whether it’s Instagram or The New York Times.”

Implications for journalism

Ingram concludes with questions for news organizations and other media:

I think moves like Instagram has made should get more media companies thinking hard about the relationship they have with Twitter. It is not just a conduit for your content to reach your users whenever and wherever you wish (if it ever was) — it is a proprietary network built by a company with monetization and expansion on its mind, and your content is part of that equation. What are you getting out of it and why? And will that change in the future as Twitter’s mission and vision evolve? And what will you do if it does?

That’s probably correct. However, it is also unavoidable. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are dominant players in social media, and you have to play with them if you want to be in the game.

This bargain reminds me of a scene from “The Godfather,” in which Don Corleone declines to join Virgil Sollozzo in his heroin business:

I want to congratulate you on your new business and I’m sure you’ll do very well and good luck to you. Especially since your interests don’t conflict with mine.

Social networks are great partners for news and media, and even for other social networks, as long as your interests don’t conflict with theirs. Read more

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Instagram breaks records during Hurricane Sandy

Giga OM | GizmodoForbes | TimeNew York Times
As we suspected in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, the storm and its aftermath became the most-Instagrammed news event ever with more than 800,000 photos posted.

Gizmodo blogger Sam Biddle argues that it’s unethical for people to use tragic events as fodder for their Instagram photos. He says it

“…becomes a gross, crass way for people to shellack their poor taste and poorer judgment across the face of tragedy. The reality of a natural disaster is shocking and compelling enough without augmenting its color. A flooded supermarket or a demolished apartment don’t need boosted contrast. They stand on their own.”

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Instagram users are posting 10 Hurricane Sandy pictures every second

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom tells us via a spokeswoman: “There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag #sandy — most are images of people prepping for the storm and images of scenes outdoors.”

The total photos posted as of now:

PandoDaily’s Sara Lacy asks whether “Hurricane Sandy … could be Instagram’s big citizen journalism moment.” Read more


How to curate Instagram by reposting newsworthy photos

Instagram is becoming synonymous with smartphone photography, with over 50 million users and 5 million more joining every week. Those users have snapped more than 1 billion photos of pets, nature or food, and also some news.

In some ways Instagram is a visual Twitter — the go-to app for reporting (with a photo instead of 140 text characters) what’s happening now. We’re used to Twitter breaking news, and now Instagram is gathering newsy eyewitness photos.

But Instagram lacks a function like Twitter’s retweet to curate and spread the newsworthy bits across the network. Fortunately, there’s another way.

Breaking News reposted this photo from a Colorado wildfire using Statigram.

Statigram, one of several third-party interfaces that make mobile-focused Instagram accessible on the Web, invented a “repost” function.

Breaking News is using this to curate major news photos on its own Instagram account with more than 32,000 followers.

Breaking News started a few weeks ago with a dramatic photo of Venus passing in front of the Sun. Since then it has reposted at least 15 other photos of fires, floods and iconic news photos from people who were in the right place at the right time.

Last week’s massive Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs, Colo., was a great example of when Instagram can become a news source. About an hour after the fire erupted there were 1,300 photos tagged #waldocanyonfire, Breaking News General Manager Cory Bergman told me. When he checked a half-hour later, there were 1,700. (Now there are almost 3,900.)

Note how Statigram’s repost function places a layer over the original photo that includes a retweet-like arrow symbol in the upper-left corner and a credit to the photographer at the bottom. It also encourages reposters to mention the photographers’ usernames in their descriptions.

“It illustrates it as a reblog and gives credit to the originator,” Bergman said. Many photographers thank Breaking News for featuring their photos, he said, and none has complained so far.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Find a photo

You can find photos by searching on Statigram or Instagram itself, or by searching Twitter for links to Instagram photos. In this example I’ll use a photo taken outside the Supreme Court after last week’s health care ruling.

Once you find a photo worth using, look up the user’s page at “” and locate the photo.

Click the “Repost this” button. (You must be logged in to Statigram for this button to appear.)

2. Get the repost ‘snapshot’ emailed to you

Statigram will automatically generate the “snapshot” version with the red corner logo and the photographer’s name superimposed, and it will email it to the address you signed up to Instagram with.

3. Save the email attachment to your phone’s gallery

Grab the phone where you have the Instagram app installed. Open your email inbox and download the photo from the Statigram email. Save it in your photo gallery or somewhere you can find it later.

4. Post to Instagram

Open your Instagram app and select the saved image from your phone. It’s best not to apply any new filters to the original image. Also, it’s good practice to use the @name of the original photographer, which notifies her of your post and lets your followers click through to her profile easily. Statigram also suggests you add a #repoststatigram hashtag so the world can follow all reposts in one feed.

Related: Instagram and other services suffer outage during weekend storm (VentureBeat) | Instagram finally starts rolling out a Web presence (Simply Zesty) | 5 features Anthony Quintano wants from Instagram ( | Breaking News iPad app launches (iTunes) | More stories about Instagram. Read more


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