Instagram for journalists

The Wall Street Journal has in-house training sessions called DJ Spotlight (the DJ standing for Dow Jones).

We recently had Will Guyatt from Instagram and Iain Mackenzie from Facebook come in to the London newsroom to lead lunchtime workshops.

I originally wrote these notes for Journal folk. I’m now posting here having checked with Will and Iain that they agree with me sharing more widely. 

Here are the notes from Will’s talk. I’ll post notes on Facebook for journalists in due course.

Key Instagram stats:

  • 200 million active users
  • 65% of the audience is outside the US
  • 60 million photos are uploaded each day
  • 1.6 likes every day

Instagram is increasingly used by public figures, Will explained.

Clarence House (representing the royal family) posted lots of official shots from Will and Kate’s royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, for example.

Instagram is increasingly being used by journalists

  • Australian photojournalist @danielberehulak shared scenes from the 10 days of mourning following the death of Nelson Mandela.
  • In the Ukraine, one journalist stored images on Instagram. He uploaded the pictures and then deleted when Russian soldiers saw them and ordered him to delete them.

Examples of other news events that provided strong Instagram images:

  • UK floods
  • Helicopter crash in Glasgow
  • Egypt coup

Instagram is used by users who share interesting moments

  • @drewkelly, a teacher in Pyongyang, shares photos from daily life North Korea.
  • @greggboydston, an extreme firefighter in Oregon, shares images. He joined Instagram the week 13 of his colleagues died fighting forest fires, Will explained.

Instagram is being used by news organisations

BBC News tapped into Instagram API and brought in photos shared by people from the Thatcher funeral route in real-time. Here’s the Instagram map.

BBC News launched Instafax, 15-second stories told through simple text and pictures. If you have not yet seen Instafax, see an example.

The Guardian has experimented with account takeovers: Journalists on assignment, perhaps photojournalists, capture candid images. Projects include #GuardianCam and #GuardianCities.

Tools and best practices

Sourcing content via hashtags

Search for a hashtag within the Instagram app.

Sourcing content via location is a good third-party tool to use. Most pics are geolocated so can be found by location.

Here’s an example relevant to today’s news:

Will explained that the previous evening he did a test to see how many images were shared from the Bayern Munich soccer stadium. He located 5,000 Instagram images shared from that one game.

You could search for places with Instagram photos in Kiev, for example.

Will also took the lead WSJ Ukraine story from the day he spoke (April 10). The article mentions the name of two squares. He carried out a location search and found pictures and a video from those specific locations.

UGC (user-generated content)

Instagram is a wealth of resources for news organisations, Will said.

Instagram images can be embedded in news stories / blog posts without the need to get permission from the owner (you do this in the same way that you would embed YouTube videos). (Note, although this is acceptable practice, bear in mind that Instagrammers may have thought they were sharing photos with their network and may not welcome finding that their photos have been embedded on news sites.)

If you want to use the image not as an embed but as an uploaded picture, you must seek permission from the uploader as the copyright is owned by the user.

If you accept to use an image, the acceptable practice from Instagram is to reference the user and say it is from Instagram.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Use the comments section on Instagram and ask for permission.
  2. Direct message the user. You can do this even if they don’t follow you. The quirk is that you have to send a picture, which can be anything and could be a selfie.

Instagram’s Hannah Waldram led a workshop at the last news:rewired conference. My notes on that are here.