Will Instagram video outdo Vine in the newsroom?

byMargaret Looney
Jun 26, 2013 in Multimedia Journalism

Just when newsrooms had started to figure out how six seconds of Vine footage could add to their reporting, Instagram decided to let users capture an eternity-like 15 seconds of video using any of 13 different filters.

Within 24 hours of Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom's announcement, more than 5 million videos had been uploaded to the site. Instagram video is available to both Android and iOS users. That would have been a leg up at the time Vine was launched for iOS only, but Vine finally released an Android version just weeks ago (along with a peek at upcoming features).

Facebook + Journalists has already constructed a list of ways reporters can use the video feature in their coverage, namely by offering behind-the-scenes clips of breaking news events, crowdsourcing videos from news scenes via an established hashtag and teasing upcoming news stories, similar to the way journalists have used Vine. (Facebook owns Instagram, and Twitter created Vine.)

While it's still too early to see whether newsrooms will embrace the new feature, a few have already been tinkering with it. The Washington Post has already uploaded four videos to its feed, capturing shots of the local DC community.

National Geographic created a stop-motion clip showing what photographer Michael Yamashita packs in his camera bag.

Jacob Trapper of CNN's The Lead previewed the show with this Willow-filtered clip and Ann Curry gave us a sneak peek of a news scene with this 360 degree, vertigo-inducing sweep. And local news stations like Abc27News in Harrisburg, Pa. are using Instagram video to tease the evening broadcast.

But we're still waiting on other newsrooms-turned-Instagram regulars like the Chicago Tribune, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal to make their first Instagram videos.

In a post on what Instagram video could mean for journalism, Beth Bennett, assistant professor at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, told ABC News that Instagram's new feature has the potential for "telling breaking news stories, especially when the audience is following certain hashtags for down-to-the minute news."

But will the micro-video feature have the power to crush that traditional colossus, the video camera? Not everyone is convinced.

"It takes a lot more thought to turn the everyday quotidian into the spectacular, regardless of the dozen filters, editing effects and smoothing software that Instagram’s new video feature offers," wrote The New York Times' Jenna Wortham in this Digital Diary post.

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm wrote in this post that he plans to abstain from Instagram video for life because the complexity of video will raise the volume on the Internet's noise factor of junk, among other reasons. "While six seconds (the time limit for Vine) or fifteen seconds (the limit for Instagram) might not seem like a lot, when you are trying to browse and the video is irritating or just poor quality, it’s like an eternity."

So whether you think the advantage of the video feature is how easy it is to share or its "cinema" effect, which stabilizes shaky video, letting anyone feel like they could be the next Scorsese, chances are the video-sharing trend will continue to gather steam.

Perhaps it's only a matter of time before The New York Times is running an Instagram video on the homepage of its website.

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

Instagram filter added to CC-licensed photo on Flickr via user ceasedesist. Original photo found here.