Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Instagram’

Editorial project idea No. 1

In Ideas on 16 Feb 2017 at 6:33 pm


They say there is nothing new under the sun and all the best ideas are cribbed from somewhere else. Or are at least incremental.

Well, here is a story form that I stole fair and square from one of my favorite news sources, Reveal. It’s the idea of news reporting via Instagram. Reveal rolled out a story on the inequity of plea deals in the courts through 21 beautifully rendered Instagram posts. Look for yourself. It’s just freaking awesome. It is stunning reporting, visually amazing and ready made for viral sharing.

Did it work? Heck, I don’t know. Looks like most of the Reveal posts got a fewer than 200 likes and not too much commentary. But then the best of what we do has not always gotten the notice it deserves.

I decided to try something sort of like this and I was smart enough to enlist the help of Half Moon Bay Review photographer John Green. His Instagram images are always a treat and sometimes very widely appreciated in the community. I asked him to run around town on Thursday, which was widely observed in our community and elsewhere as “A Day Without Immigrants.” Many local restaurants were closed in solidarity or because they simply didn’t have enough workers if enough of them observed the day off. I asked him to take square Instagram images that captured a closed restaurant. Which is a weird assignment.

The result was an interesting photo story that he parlayed into a series of filtered shots. Just simple images from Coastside favorites that were closed for the day. This story is the talk of the town today in Half Moon Bay and we helped propel it. … Read the rest of this entry »


Instagram vs. Snapchat

In Online media on 4 Aug 2016 at 3:52 pm
Just something snarky I saw on my Instagram feed.

Just something snarky I saw on my Instagram feed.

This week, the folks at Instagram (who work for Facebook) stole Snapchat’s lunch money. They launched Instagram Stories, which is a direct ripoff of Snapchat Stories, and some of the smart money is betting eyeballs will leave Snapchat in favor of the already more popular Instagram.

I know. It’s hard to keep up with the social media soap opera sometimes.

The concept behind “stories” on both platforms is that users can create mini photo-based narratives that disappear with time. And why would anyone want to do that? Snapchat Stories have been wildly popular with celebrities and young people. I think they appreciate that the images don’t have to be perfect. They won’t outlive us all. they are just a snapshot of right now.

Should we be doing that too? Good question.

This isn’t a way to push links or host ads. The popular photo-based platforms are primarily branding exercises for news organizations. They are a chance to show that you speak to this demographic and that your photography is worth looking at. Instagram suggests that the new Stories will be a perfect way to quickly stitch together a photo story during breaking news. I can see that. If you are covering, say, a street protest, you can send a series of photos as a story and share with your existing Instagram audience. Or maybe a sportswriter sends a story from the high school football game. It’s not rocket science. It won’t take forever.  … Read the rest of this entry »

Make sports your toy department

In Ideas on 11 Apr 2014 at 8:52 am
What if you gave everyone on the high school baseball team your camera so they could take a selfie? What could you do with those photos?

What if you gave everyone on the high school baseball team your camera so they could take a selfie? What could you do with those photos?

I was interested to see what came out of a confab of sports reporters and editors at a New York meeting of the Online News Association. If this roundup is any indication, I’m a little disappointed.

Participants in the panel included folks from the New York Times, SB Nation and other digital concerns. They discussed the magnificent Snow Fall production that should win a Pulitzer, Oscar and a Tony award. It’s that cool. It’s also that far from something we can do by ourselves at the moment. It’s important to think big, but it’s also important to think doable.

The gathering did produce some important, small things, that we can all do. One of them is a reminder to read your edited product. Ask editors why they made the changes they made. Learn from the experience. They suggest we engage readers and not talk down to commenters. Those are good points.

When I worked in sports, we openly acknowledged that it was the toy department of the newspaper. No one ever died at a volleyball game I covered. Your tax bill didn’t hang in the balance of that Friday night football tilt. Sports are meant to be fun so we should have fun with our sports coverage and experiment a little. Here are some ideas: … Read the rest of this entry »

The digital difference

In Online media on 5 Dec 2013 at 5:46 pm


Does your website merely mirror your print product? Do you post headlines and links and little else on Facebook? Do you ignore platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest?

If, in all honesty, you can only answer, “yes, yes and yes” to those questions, you are actively aiming to lose the digital revolution.

This week, a smart guy named Alan Mutter (you can read his blog here) noted how one news outlet is taking a much more sophisticated approach to audience development and retention. I wish I could say the focus of his praise was a newspaper, but it’s NPR.

On his blog (in a post that was later reprinted in Editor and Publisher), Mutter notes that the first step for NPR was noting the different demographics that responded to differing platforms. He says that NPR’s average radio listener is 49 years old, while the average reader of the website was 40. It skews even lower for the podcast. The average podcast downloader is 36. That may seem relatively insignificant, but it’s not if you want to truly tailor your product to your audience.

NPR – which has always provided only a survey of the vast world around us – works hard to appeal to each separate demographic with appropriate platforms.

Whether you know it or not, your demographic split is probably somewhat similar. Some of our newspapers have recently done nonscientific surveying that shows newspaper readership is in its 50s and above. Nationwide research suggests newspaper readers are 58, on average; news website readers are 49, or there abouts. I think it’s reasonable to assume your readership follows that pattern. … Read the rest of this entry »

Try an Insta-video

In Video on 21 Jun 2013 at 7:35 am

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 10.30.50 AM

The battle for your short attention span has begun. If you don’t play along on video, you may number yourself among the casualties.

On Thursday, the folks at Instagram (and by extension, Facebook) announced a video feature for their extremely popular social media photo application. It was clearly a response to Twitter’s wildly popular Vine video app, which has a reported 13 million users in only a few months on the market.

If you have a smartphone, you probably already have Instagram. It’s that app that lets you snap square photos and use a variety of filters before sharing them with the world. If you haven’t done so since Thursday’s announcement, you have to update your app to get the new feature. It allows you to shoot 15-second videos that you can then run through those Instagram filters and share via Twitter or Facebook. I guarantee this means your Facebook news feed will soon be filled with short videos of your friends at the swimming pool, eating dinner and goodness knows what else. If you are a regular on Twitter, you have undoubtedly already seen Vine video links on your feed.

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom told Verge magazine recently why his operation was comparatively slow to see the light on video. “I think it’s a combination of data speed limitations and the time it takes to watch a video,” he said not so long ago. “Videos are a very difficult medium to be good at, and also a difficult medium to consume quickly.”

Vine changed all that.

So what does this mean for us? As I said about Vine earlier this year, I think these short video apps can be useful. At the Half Moon Bay Review, we’ve used it in the past to share the scene from graduation ceremonies or to show off our still photos, among other things. And there are examples on the Web of much, much more sophisticated uses of the stop-action feature. Vine is a loop, meaning the six-second snatches of video repeat. Advertisers are quickly catching on to ways to produce catchy, inexpensive, viral and repeating video to sell their products. Fast Company reported on an agent who says “Vine talent” can earn a living by producing as few as 20 six-second videos a year. Think of what your own advertisers could do in these formats.


Educating budding shutterbugs

In Photography on 21 Mar 2013 at 4:13 pm

Science and Society Picture Library

I think this is a brilliant idea that might have suffered a bit in the execution. The Wall Street Journal held a live chat last Thursday. It was an opportunity for amateur photographers to send in their shots so that the WSJ’s professional photographers can critique them and offer advice.

The whole thing was arranged around a Twitter hashtag — #photocritiqueWSJ. Participants were supposed to post pictures on Instagram or Twitter with that hashtag and the pros were to respond.

I actually don’t know how it worked. But it looked a little … complicated. You were supposed to RSVP. You had to have enough social media savvy to share photos that way, you had to have read the legal disclaimer saying the WSJ reserved the right to reprint your work, etc. There were four comments on the story announcing the deal – three wanting to know how to participate and one from staff pointing folks to another blog post.

I think this is a cool idea for us inside Wick. Maybe I can arrange something like this and ask one of our terrific photographers to answer questions and provide advice.

The WSJ’s effort probably could have been done more simply. What if you did something like this at your shop? You don’t need hashtags and Instagram accounts. You could just announce it in the paper and ask people to bring in their shots. Maybe run the best of the bunch on a photo page. … Read the rest of this entry »

Does The Beat scare you?

In Innovation on 7 Dec 2012 at 10:13 am

Picture 3

I hesitate to mention this because it is completely addicting. It’s called The Beat, and it’s a project of the Social Media Information Lab at the School of Communications and Information at Rutgers University.

Here’s how it works. In the dialogue box provided, type in a word, any word that strikes you. The Beat then searches Instagram images for that hashtag. And here’s the interesting part: It then pairs that Instagram image with the corresponding Google Street View using the geotagging info users allow on their Instagram settings.

In other words, it shows you the photo someone shot and where they shot it.

So who cares? Well, developer Mor Naaman, speaking on the MediaTwits blog, says “Our goal is to learn about society from the social media information.” For instance, researchers could use The Beat to tell whether people stay up later in New York City or Boston. (That is an example Naaman used on Mediatwits, but I’m a little fuzzy on how he would do that. I don’t see a way to count the number of users up at any given time or really quantify this information. Perhaps I’m missing it.) You might also get some sense whether #partysydney gets more hits than #partyneworleans.

And that is one big concern. Try typing in “wasted” or “drunk.” A lot of folks don’t mind taking photos of themselves in compromising positions. They may be unhappy to find that we can now tell exactly where they are when they are #waydrunk. … Read the rest of this entry »

380 billion photos this year

In Photography on 27 Sep 2012 at 4:37 pm

This is a photo I took outside the convention center using Instagram

At this writing, Richard Koci Hernandez, an assistant professor of New Media at the University of California, Berkeley, has 163,000 followers on Instagram. As many people see his photography as see the photographs in most large regional daily newspapers.

It’s incredible really. That never would have been possible 10 years ago. His success has to do with camera phones and social media tools that allow him to share his work with people all over the globe. And he’s not alone. We are living in the midst of a proliferation of images unlike anything that the world has ever seen.

Hernandez says a total of 10 billion photos were taken in 1973. In 2011, shutterbugs like us all across the world took 380 billion pictures. (Sorry, I forgot to jot down the source.)

The camera phones in our pockets allow nearly everyone to contribute to your news site with photos from the pumpkin patch or the bank robbery. That doesn’t mean everyone has an eye for getting telling or artful photographs. Hernandez explained it like this: The cup of coffee has gotten bigger, but the cream will always rise to the top.”

Instagram is one way people are sharing all these photos and it’s increasingly obvious that you should be toying with the online tool yourself. If you haven’t played with it, think of Instagram as a sort of Facebook for photos. In fact, Facebook owns it. On Instagram, you share your photos and follow folks who may follow you back. It’s most well known as a way to run your camera phone photos through filters to produce grainy or over-saturated or over-exposed images that look as if they came from some old-time gear. … Read the rest of this entry »