Instagram as a News Source?

Instagram has taken our worlds by storm, first looked at as an artsy outlet is now taking on new roles. You can now follow your local news stations on Instagram and more and more reporters/ writers and multimedia outlets are developing their own professional accounts.

Last night,  my Northeastern J-school buddies and I took a trip to The Boston Globe Media Lab. The joyful trek out to Dorchester proved itself to be well worth it!  Creative Technologist Chris Marstall and his staff were incredibly knowledgable and informed us of all the innovative plans the Globe has to morph along with our increasingly digital world.

What I found the most surprising about our visit was how news outlets are using Instagram and Vine along with geo-tagging as a tool. Marstall has us gather around a large television screen showing all of the Instagram photos geo-tagged in Boston over the past 24 hours. We are able to use this information to learn about users and more about the communities we live in. The lab had done the same with Vine videos posted in the past 24 hours and one of  the videos that came up in their search was filmed along Northeastern’s campus.

I think the use of these outlets for News is exciting and a I am curious to see how other news outlets begin to use it. One project by Time Magazine that was incredibly well done in my opinion was using Instagram to document Hurricane Sandy. Time Magazine actually hired 5 professional photographers to go out,  shoot and Instagram photos before, during and after the storm. “Why” is the big question I had- why Instagram instead of just publishing the photos directly to Times website. Time’s photography director, Kira Pollack called the whole thing a big experiment. Having lived in Manhattan and experienced Sandy’s wrath firsthand  I think Time did an outstanding job!

Instagram is providing the world a whole new level of communication and dissemination of information that can be used in countless ways and its exciting to see just how many different and unique ways innovators out there are coming up with.


We could all learn something from Rachel

Last week  my class had the pleasure  of a Q&A with a recent NU graduate and aspiring online journalist, Rachel Kossman.

Rachel left Northeastern with a job offer, to a job she didn’t love but it was a job none the less- it was a stepping stone into her future as ‘a real adult’.

After a year at her undesired job, she decided to do something that would make all parents or recent graduates cringe..quit.

She quit her job, went to South America and began a travel blog.

Rachel traveled all throughout South America for 3 weeks. Came home and then immediately returned for 3 1/2 months. She fell in love with the countries she visited while posting, tweeting and instagram’ing it all along the way.

Some people may see Rachel’s decision as brazen and  a panicked response to being stuck in a rut. But what Rachel has done for herself is she created an online presence that would attract others. At first, friends and family but gradually other like-minded people and professionals potentially seeking employees. She was writing, creating and stimulating  her journalistic profile.

Personally, what I think Rachel has done is incredibly brave. She is pioneering a path for herself instead of taking one that already exists.

A career in journalism is not clear-cut. It is forever changing and certainly not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to travel, constantly learn new skills, quit your job. You have to expose yourself to the elements of the world and the uncertainties that come along with it.


What I gained from hearing Rachel’s story is not to give up on my hopes for my future. And that if there isn’t a ‘way’, to make one.

Our lives are not meant to be put together seamlessly and perfectly like a puzzle.

As a journalist your ingenuity, perseverance and creativity are your greatest assets.