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BBC News launches video experiment on Instagram

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BBC News launches video experiment on Instagram

Margaret Looney | January 22, 2014

With mobile and tablet news consumption on the rise, news organizations big and small are trying out new ways to inform an audience on the go.

BBC News has been dabbling with Instagram video since September 2013 as a way to accent its coverage, but its latest experiment is taking a more structured approach to sharing news video in microform.

BBC News recently launched Instafax, a month-long project experimenting with 15-second video on Instagram. BBC News posts three videos recapping the major headlines of the day.

So far, the videos’ subjects have ranged from breaking news stories such as the explosions in Beirut to topical issues like a new study on coral. Each scene of the video features a tidbit of text about the news story, and each video is accompanied by a short teaser that includes the link to the whole story. (Unfortunately, Instagram doesn't hyperlink URLs, but you can copy/paste the link into your browser.)

BBC decided to amp up its short-form video coverage after December stats showed that its audience's mobile and tablet consumption had outpaced desktop views for the first time, BBC News Online chief Steve Herrmann told the Guardian.

Instafax isn't the BBC’s first tweak to its video model. The outlet began incorporating mobile video footage into its traditional, on-air video packages, but the push for experimentation continues on.

"We want the process to be organic, and we're keen to trial new ideas on how we can use our video content to reach new audiences," Herrmann told the Guardian. "[BBC News director] James Harding has been clear in his vision to find innovative ways to bring the best of our journalism to new audiences, something our team has been looking at for some time."

User feedback has been mostly positive and constructive. User @andreaquijano posted, "These are great snippets of news, but I would suggest voice over narration rather than text. When reading the text, I feel as though I'm distracted from the images."

User @nicomclennan posted, "Cool idea - bite size, image driven news. Interesting use of the platform #instafax."

NowThis News, with whom NBC News recently partnered, has been using Vine and Instagram, so it will be interesting to see how a more traditional broadcaster fares against the video startup.

Since the project is still in trial mode, user feedback can make it or break it, so check out the videos and tell BBC News what you think.

How are you and your newsroom experimenting with microvideo? Let us know in the comments.

Related reading: Will Instagram video outdo Vine in the newsroom?

IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes about the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.

@margylooney

Image: Screenshot of BBC News' Instagram account

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