4 Ways News Organizations Can Use Instagram

Instagram, the wildly popular photo sharing service (which got a lengthy write-up in Saturday’s New York Times) holds a lot of potential for news organizations. This is especially true, considering the service’s rapidly growing user base and the promise of bringing Instagram to the iPhone (and iPod touch/iPad)-only app to other platforms, like Android. In that spirit, here are four ways news organizations can use Instagram.

1. Give Users A Behind-The-Scenes View
People love to see behind-the-scenes shots of their favorite journalists and the people who help make their shows popular. ABC World News does just that. On Sunday, they posted a photo of anchor Diane Sawyer in the cockpit of an Air Force jet on the way to Afghanistan. NBC News also does this as well and posts rehearsal photos of their popular Today Show summer concerts.

2. Display The Work Of Photographers
During major news events, news organizations can take a staff, wire, or crowdsourced photograph and upload it to Instagram to allow others to see it. NPR does this frequently. This past week, they used Instagram to show a photo of a man with blood-soaked hands trying to rescue a protester in Yemen. It doesn’t have to be your picture you share with Instagram — just remember to give credit to the photographer!

3. Share Breaking News
It is doubtful that Instagram will ever displace Twitter as people’s so-called “police scanner” when it comes to breaking news. But why not share breaking news over the service when you can? Open up Photoshop, type the alert text into a square-shaped canvas, and upload to Instagram!

4. Crowdsource

This can work in one of two ways. Similar to the breaking news idea above, type out a call for photos from an event and how people should share them on Instagram. NBC News has been doing this for the Today Show concerts.

The other way is to engage with someone who posted an Instagrammed photo that is relevant to a major news event (what if Instagram was around when the famous Twitpic of the Hudson River plane crash was taken?). The photo may be posted to Twitter, or you may be required to do some searching within the app.

Regardless (and this should especially apply to print journalists), the photographer should be contacted, and an attempt should be made to obtain an original, unfiltered photo from the photographer. The reason for this is twofold: First, Instagram’s compression makes a photo unacceptable for use in any medium other than the Web. Second, while the filters are artsy and cool, they constitute an altering of a photo that probably violates the ethical guidelines of most newsrooms.

So, there you have it, four ways news organizations can use Instagram. Jump on the bandwagon now, as the service grows and expands to new platforms!