Journalists may very well remember 2013 as the year Vine entered their lives — and their professions.
The six-second video service was launched by Twitter this past January. In the months that have followed, journalists and storytellers have tried to figure out the most effective ways to use it.
And while many have predicted Vine’s dominance on the journalistic landscape, just as many have doubted its potential as a journalistic tool.
Ten months in, Vine is still a major — and fascinating — work in progress.
Here now, a month-by-month look at how the service has infiltrated our world, gaining supporters, skeptics, and followers along the way:
JANUARY: Six reasons why Vine is a killer news tool (Pando Daily): A mere four days after Vine’s launch, blogger Hamish McKenzie presents a list of reasons why journalists should love it. Among those reasons? “People will actually watch the video.” Media companies, engaged in a constant fight to expand their viewership and readership, no doubt feel the same way and take notice.
FEBRUARY: Using Vine to cover breaking news (Fast Company): This article spotlights Vine’s first big journalistic breakthrough. When a terrorist attacked the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkish journalist Tulin Daloglu used the service to upload clips from the aftermath. This happened barely a week after Vine’s launch.
MARCH: How journalists can use Vine (PBS Idea Lab): Here is a great time capsule of where the marriage of Vine and journalism stood, roughly two months into the service’s existence. Idea Lab author Joanna Kao describes its plusses and minuses, offers tools for journalists looking to incorporate it, and acknowledges its steadily rising popularity. That said, she also acknowledges one major limitation: “You thought providing context was hard? Try doing it in 6 seconds or less.”
APRIL: Vine in Boston: 6 seconds of horror on repeat (Huffington Post): The most written-about Vine of the month? A viewer’s recording of a Boston TV broadcast of the explosion at the Boston Marathon. This article discusses the impact of that, and its opening paragraph sets the stage: “Within 55 minutes of being posted, [the video] had been tweeted more than 15,700 times and seen by over 35,000 people. Those without Twitter texted the link to friends.”
MAY: How Vine is changing the face of online journalism (Social Media Today): The headline of this article, which recaps Vine’s early impact, pretty much sums up how many news outlets started to view the service. Anecdotally, this is when I remember many of my colleagues and bosses really taking notice.
JUNE: A week after Instagram’s video launch, Vine sharing tanks on Twitter (Marketing Land): Competition! Instagram launches its own video service — offering 15-second clips as opposed to Vine’s six-second recordings — and immediately cuts into Vine’s popularity. This, to me, seemed to be a turning point as well in the newsroom; suddenly, I saw journalists who were not sure which online video tool was best. Those who were struggling to grasp Vine now faced another challenge, and they were not thrilled.
JULY: What video journalists from the BBC, NowThisNews, and AP think about the future of video (Muck Rack): Six months in, the always innovative Muck Rack blog reaches out to various esteemed journalists for their take on Vine, Instagram, and video journalism. BBC’s Matt Danzico has, in my mind, the most prescient response: “For the world, the future of video journalism involves managing and smartly archiving incalculable amounts of content across a digital map of the globe. And for the professional, the future of video journalism remains an increasingly difficult nut to crack.”
AUGUST: Vine is having its six seconds of fame (Mashable): While Vine is responsible for another virally spread news-type video — a truck flying over a guardrail on a Michigan freeway — it also seems to show its ceiling as a journalistic tool. In this article, one professor describes Vine as, simply, “another arrow in the quiver”; he also holds firm to the belief that “the best stories are not going to come from following Twitter or Instagram or Vine.”
SEPTEMBER: Announcing the Vine Journalism Awards (Muck Rack): And yet, despite the skeptics, Vine continues to ascend in the minds of many. As summer gives way to fall, Muck Rack announces its first-ever “Vine Journalism Awards”, a tribute to “an invaluable source of real-time journalism and breaking news.” If journalists are starting to notice Vine’s limitations, they also no doubt notice its strengths.
OCTOBER: Announcing the winners of the Vine Journalist Awards (Muck Rack): One month after Muck Rack alerts the world to its awards, it announces the winners. With that announcement, and on this page, you can see one organization’s view of the best of what Vine has to offer. The Boston Marathon clip is on there, which is odd to me, because it is not an original creation; it is a recording of a TV news broadcast.
And so, in nearly a year, Vine has absolutely developed a noticeable amount of legitimacy in the news world. It has gone from not even existing to becoming the basis for journalistic awards. One wonders if, at this point, it has reached a certain ceiling; many seem to see it as a tool for breaking and behind-the-scenes news but not much beyond that.
I see that ceiling as potentially temporary, though, for two reasons:
(1) As popular as it is, Vine still has plenty of room to grow. Perhaps much of the Twitter-using population appreciates it, but I would bet the majority of traditional viewers and readers have never heard of it. As they learn about Vine, and learn how to use it, they will appreciate it more. News outlets will more thoroughly incorporate Vine when it becomes more ubiquitous in general, much as they did with Twitter and Facebook.
(2) Similarly, much like with other forms of social media, journalists will undoubtedly become more familiar with Vine themselves. As they do, they will find ways to utilize it. I believe many are biding their time to see how seriously their employers take Vine.
On the whole, I am enjoying watching it grow. I do not use Vine much myself, but I appreciate its potential and am excited to watch its development.
Perhaps, in not ten months but ten years, we will look back on those headlines and acknowledge their shortsightedness — or, maybe, their prescience.
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.