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Instagram, Vine, Periscope: the trifecta of elusive social media for journalists

One of my favorite posts on this site — for not the quality of its writing but the entertainment of its content — is an entry from two years ago titled, “10 Turn of the Century Predictions, and 10 Lessons Learned“.

In it, I examine the crystal ball work done by the staff of Entertainment Weekly in 1999, as they spotlight ten “companies and visionaries leading the electronic charge”.  These range from innovations in music (POP.com) to gaming (godgames.com) to interactive television (mixedsignals.com).

Don’t worry if you don’t recognize the three web sites I just mentioned; they no longer exist.

Some of Entertainment Weekly‘s predictions turned out remarkably right, and others proved woefully wrong. My conclusion, upon re-reading the issue? “It should remind us what we thought the media landscape would look like — and how similar yet different it actually appears today.”

I think of the article — and my subsequent post — when I encounter the new forms of media expected to transform my job as a journalist.

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Many individual journalists I know today still struggle with both how to incorporate social media and which ones to incorporate. Most have invested at least somewhat in Facebook and Twitter, with both providing some return in terms of followers, shares, and conversations. Beyond that, for most in my field, it’s a crap shoot.

None of these options, mind you, existed when I started in the businesses a dozen years ago. But a journalist, already working with a limited time frame and hard deadline, must constantly make choices as to which audience needs to be served. Do I spend a few minutes crafting a Facebook post? Do I take a minute here and there during the day to update Twitter? Do I shoot an iPhone video and send it back for the web site? Or do I eschew all of it and use that time to research and develop my daily story?

That does not even get into a trio of social media options that seem to be beyond most journalists’ reach: Instagram, Vine, and Periscope. (more…)

Down with Periscope? I’m still working on it

It always comes down to time.

As journalists and storytellers, we are constantly faced with limits to our time: every story has a deadline, every shoot has an end, and — particularly in TV and radio — every word we speak takes up valuable space in our story’s window.

But that says nothing of our limits in dealing with free time. How much do we choose to invest? Do we work a little longer to make a story just right? Do we get up early to call sources?

And do we attempt to master every new wave of technology that comes through the universe?

I have been a journalist for 12 years, and in that seemingly short span, I have already seen the rise of Facebook, Twitter, apps, Instagram, and Vine on social media. In each case, we as a journalism community seemed to go through a similar cycle: early resistance, followed by sweeping infatuation, ending with a happy medium of incorporation. Some outlets have fared better than others; Twitter remains the go-to way to update breaking news in a flash, while Facebook has become the place to build devoted followings and start conversations. Instagram and Vine have seen less success in the journalism community; Vine in particular seems to have fallen spectacularly after such an invigorating start. I possess a Vine account but rarely use it; I know few journalists who remain committed to it.

Now comes Periscope.

And now comes that same cycle. (more…)

PODCAST EPISODE #24: Natalie Amrossi, @Misshattan

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New York can be a competitive place.

Just look at Instagram.

As of this writing, the hashtag #newyorkcity had been used on more than 4 million Instagram posts. Even the less obvious hashtag #newyorknewyork had been used 200,000 times.

New York City may be the most photographed city in the world.

And my guest on this episode of the Telling The Story podcast may be its most popular Instagram photographer.

Natalie Amrossi is a freelance photographer who is better known by her Instagram name: Misshattan. She uses her account to showcase spectacular photos of the Big Apple, usually from an aerial or rooftop view. With barely a thousand posts under her online belt, Amrossi has already amassed more than 200,000 Instagram followers.

That accomplishment becomes even more impressive with the knowledge that Amrossi is not a full-time photographer … or, at least, she wasn’t until last November. She was holding down a corporate job when she decided, in part because of her Instagram success, to become a freelancer and make a living solely from her photos.

“It was definitely emotional the day I decided to leave my job,” Amrossi told me. “I haven’t looked back since. Whether I make it or I fail, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, I don’t want to look back and wonder.”

Amrossi is not a journalist by trade, but she is certainly a storyteller, and she makes for a fascinating interview. We discuss a variety of topics, including the paradox of showcasing her mural-worthy photos on the tiny screen of a phone.

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PODCAST EPISODE #13: “Best Of” Advice Edition, 2013

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This year has been a blast.

Since launching the Telling The Story podcast in April, I have interviewed twelve great journalists and storytellers about their work.

With the year wrapping up, I decided to take a look back.

I compiled some of the best moments from the past year into a “Best Of” advice edition of the Telling The Story podcast. Hear from eight terrific storytellers about their thoughts on what makes a great storyteller, such as:

  • Jon Shirek: my first podcast guest and my co-worker at WXIA-TV in Atlanta
  • Anne Herbst: a versatile news photographer and now assistant chief photographer at KDVR-TV in Denver
  • Matt Detrich: a longtime staff photographer at the Indianapolis Star
  • Andrew Carroll: the author of the fascinating new book, Here Is Where
  • Roman Mars: the esteemed host of 99% Invisible, and my most popular podcast guest to date
  • Erin Brethauer: multimedia editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, and — for a week this year — the overseer of the New Yorker’s Instagram account
  • Tomas Rios: a self-described paid-lance sportswriter whose work has appeared in Slate and Deadspin
  • Rachel Hamburg: a recent graduate of Stanford and the managing editor of the Stanford Storytelling Project

It’s a solid group of storytellers, and they offer some great advice.

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PODCAST EPISODE #7: Erin Brethauer, Asheville Citizen-Times photographer & New Yorker Instagrammer

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The New Yorker is typically known — at least in terms of its visuals — for displaying only the highest-brow material.

(After all, this 17-year-old episode of Seinfeld can’t be wrong …)

But the publication is now making waves because of how it utilizes a much more for-the-masses technology.

Check out the New Yorker‘s Instagram account. The magazine has more than 82,000 followers there, and every week its editors hand the reins to a different photographer — one not affiliated with the publication — to spotlight an important cause.

This is where we find the latest guest on the Telling The Story podcast.

I am joined this week by Erin Brethauer. By day, she is the multimedia editor and a staff photographer for the Asheville Citizen-Times. By night, by weekend, and by numerous other times, she puts her photographic hands in numerous other projects.

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PODCAST PREVIEW: Erin Brethauer: “Instagram really refreshed the way I was shooting”

True story: Erin Brethauer squeezed in our podcast between a vacation on the beach and an interview with the BBC.

I was surprised when she told me this, but I should not have been.

In the eight months I have known Brethauer, she has always impressed me with her willingness and enthusiasm to take on any challenge. The multimedia editor and staff photographer for the Asheville Citizen-Times, she hit the road with our Gannett Turbovideo squad despite having less than a week’s notice. Through her young career, she has excelled at photography with a variety of cameras, from the traditional to the phone-based.

And her latest achievement?

For one week this month, Brethauer ran the Instagram account for the New Yorker, the prestigious magazine with more than 82,000 Instagram followers.

This week, Brethauer joins me for Episode #7 of the Telling The Story podcast. We discuss the future of photography, her work with the New Yorker, and which cameras are best for which situations.

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