Visual Storytelling: navigating digital platforms for journalists

Stories are an essential part of our society.

We hear stories, we share stories, and we create stories through our daily lives. But the formats in which we tell our stories has dramatically shifted even through the last few years.

Social media has created new platforms for people to tell their personal social-media-icons-the-circle-setstories. Whether they post on Facebook Live, Instagram stories, or “vlog” about it on Youtube, people are finding more ways to express their experiences on a global platform.

Journalists have recognized these platforms as crucial aspects of modern day storytelling and the significance of visuals in these platforms. Because of this, journalists have to be able to not only create a narrative with words but through video and images as well.

Snapchat: the Immediate Video Journalism

Journalists have adapted videos for storytelling through documentaries, news forecasts, and the 24 hour news cycle, but when Snapchat introduced Snapchat stories in 2013, journalists had a new format that could produce immediate, unfiltered videos of events happening across the world.

snapchat0.pngAccording to Tayla Minsberg, social editor for The Times, each journalist takes the NY Times account for a specified amount to tell the story from their advantage. In this time, they have to create a narrative that is both personal, visual, and pulls in the viewer.

A large appeal of Snapchat is not only the ability to tell an interesting story, but to see how these stories show an unfiltered view of people’s lives. Due to the informality of this platform, it really creates a great areas to show softer topics and broadcasters. Could you do breaking news that more hard news? Maybe, but maybe not. Although it provides a great outlet for showing breaking news as it is happening, in real time, it doesn’t seem the audience that uses Snapchat is particularly interested in politics or those issues (at least to an extent).

To maximize the use of Snapchat, reporters need to understand:

  1. What stories can be conveyed through a visual platform like this and still be captivating
  2. How to balance authenticity instead of just amateur filming
  3. Keep their eyes open for live streaming or events that can make great opportunities for Snapchat stories.

Instagram: Storytelling through Imagery  

It appears that Instagram saw the success that Snapchat received after releasing their “stories” features and decided to do that exact same thing. Instagram users can share real-time life updates, news media have a “new opportunity to report from the field while giving behind-the-scene glimpse” into the stories they report, according to Taylyn

Washington-Harmon emphasized that the main difference between Instagram and Snapchat is Instagram used for high quality photography (with curation after the fact).

The strongest brands and accounts on Instagram use two concepts to effectively tell their stores:

  1. Consistency
  2. Passion

These two concepts are so crucial to building a presence and an audience on Instagram because people will have a clear and distinct idea about what your story is: whether it’s your mission, values or purpose. Using imagery to build that narrative will not only capture the attention of people, it will attract the target audience that will want to hear your stories or the stories you share.