The brief: Facebook buys Instagram, YouTube pays for new channel + MySociety data hack day

Posted: April 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Journalism, online video, social media, the brief, web | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Took a few days off over the Easter holiday weekend, so back on it today. Here’s some of the links which have been catching my eye today as the world goes crazy over Instagram, YouTube goes after the fashion market, old-school journalists get a letter from a digital guru and MySociety launch their journo hack day.

Facebook buys Instagram. But why?

A lot of chatter about Instagram, the hipster photo service, being bought by Facebook for $1 billion dollars (it’s got a slight Dr Evil from Austin Powers ring to it doesn’t it?). Instagram is a rather cool app and web service which allows you to add effects to your photos after you’ve taken them, and then share them around an ever-growing network. People who are on Instagram, love it. So I was looking for a bit of analysis behind the ONE BILLION DOLLARS headline and found this insightful blog from Pete Warden who is behind Jetpac (a website and app for sharing travel photos).

He hits the nail on the head when you look at the numbers, Facebook is essentially a photo-sharing website – with 10 billion photos added a month. Yep read that figure back again. I know from looking at interaction reports that photos shared via our brand pages on Trinity Mirror (who I work for) get much larger interaction rates, and this backs up my personal experience. If I post a photo of me with a beer looking like an idiot, I’ll get far more comments than the usual status update (unless it’s a life-changing status update e.g. I’m just getting married…)

Warden outlines some great reasons why Facebook is on the money to time their purchase, because although Instagram hasn’t ever made a penny that’s not the point. Facebook is buying functionality and a community. Of course there will be a backlash, but Zuckerberg has shown rather than sit around and wonder what might have been he’d rather live in the now.

Dear Newsroom Curmudgeon…

This one has been doing the rounds, tweeted mainly by senior digital people at media firms. Steve Buttry is leading an American media company – based mainly in regional and local newsroom – into the digital first world. His letter is thought-provoking and tackles a lot of what some may hear in newsrooms around the world about journalism and the internet.

It boils down to essentially, the internet offers a chance to do the same things journalists have always done just faster, slicker and using new tools. The ultimate goal is still always to tell the story, but now you’ve got loads of different, and often many exciting, ways to tell that story. And surely, that can’t be a bad thing?

YouTube pays Hearst to fund glossy mag style shows

A very interesting move this from YouTube. I blogged the other month about the change in direction I’ve seen at YouTube as they look to create more quality content, which they can serve a higher amount of advertising inventory on compared to copyright-infringing CCTV footage of people shooting guns.

They’ve teamed up with publisher Hearst to start creating video shows off the back of successful magazine features and using their personalities in these. A sign of things to come, I think so.

The case of disappearing objects on a web page

Not the most exciting title, but a very good and interesting point by Martin Belam. In a lot of newsrooms reaching for the third party toolkit is a standard part of the job, you’re struck with a crap CMS which won’t update and won’t let you tell the story in the way you need to. You embed a map, a Storify, a data visualisation, a Tweet and together it combines to form the article. But what happens when that funky new Twitter start-up disappears or changes its code?

I’m not against using third party tools to help report, but there does need to be more thought given to – what the hell would our article archive look like if all those YouTube clips disappeared?

MySociety data day

MySociety is pretty damn cool. They are behind the likes of and – I’ve used their sites many times, not just in reporting but also to report potholes on streets near me. The key thing about MySociety is they take something which is simple, such as wanting to know how your MP voted on a particular issue, and make it simple – unlike many other sites.

This hack day looks great and I encourage anyone who can go along to do so, these guys are smart and being in a conversation with them can only be a good thing. There’s stories in the data, and working with people like MySociety is a great way to find them.

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