Turning inner space into outer space

June 22, 2013

Why Instagram is no good for journalists

Instagram has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s no good for journalists. That terrible realization came back to me when the app was upgraded to allow videos as well as photos.

Once again, I thought about how it would be great to use Instagram, and once again I realized I couldn’t.

The thing is, we need to be able to post to Twitter, because that’s where all the breaking news is. But Instagram’s owner, Facebook, has decided not to co-operate with Twitter, so pictures posted to Twitter from Instagram are not displayed in the timeline. You have to click on a link and go off-site to see them.

Look at the screenshot below. The picture of Spock has a link to the Instagram site and that’s it. The picture below of solstice day has a View Photo link that allows you to see the the picture in the timeline.

For most people this is a minor inconvenience. But for journalists it’s pain in the neck. We want our stuff to show up right away. On top of that, if the timeline is embedded on our website, we want people to stay as long as possible — not go traipsing off to Instagram.

Making this state of affairs sadder is the fact that Facebook is also hurting itself. There are plenty of alternatives to Instagram, including the Twitter app itself, which can crop pictures square and add filters. And iOS7 will allow you to do it with the built-in Camera app.

It really is a missed opportunity.