Experts disagree about journalistic potential of Vine, Twitter’s new video app

by WAN-IFRA Staff | February 12, 2013

VineTwitter’s new six-second video application, inspired more than 100,000 uploads over the weekend, according to research by Simply Measured. And while the fledgling app, launched 24 January, showcases its fair share of pets and even porn, some foresee a journalistic future for Vine.

After a Turkish reporter used Vine videos to display the aftermath of the U.S. embassy bombing in early February, other news organizations have given the bite-sized videos a try. The Wall Street Journal helped the hashtag “#nyfw” rise to the top of Vine’s top keywords with its clips from New York Fashion Week. Early Vine videos also tipped off the media of a water main break on Fifth Avenue in New York City on 1 February.

Currently the application seems to be more of an tool for advertising content than direct news reporting. For instance, USA Today has posted several daily videos showcasing its top headlines, and People Magazine uploaded a six-second teaser of its Tim McGraw spread. Other news outlets are using Vine to increase their access to their audience: CNN and NBC invited Twitter followers into their newsrooms through Vine videos.

And while the new technology suggests the promise of serious on-site reporting, some argue that six seconds of footage is not enough time to convey a meaningful message, as pointed out in an article in The Verge. However, the same criticisms were raised against Twitter’s 140-character limit, before its potential for covering breaking news, such as the uprisings in the Arab World, became clear. The Verge points out that the intended simplicity of the app, which does not allow editing, might actually complicate story telling as interviews cannot be transposed and videos must be shot in a single take. Mark Blank-Settle of the BBC Academy College of Journalism also tweeted that Vine is not ideal for journalistic use because “duration, sound and focussing issues limited any real news impact.”

Others, however, are optimistic: An article in The Independent argued that Vine is “the best six seconds of your life” because it draws on popular current trends such as animated gifs and Instagram photography to create a “revolutionary” tool that could make pictures obsolete. But for now, the Vine videos that could change the future of journalism might be buried beneath news outlets’ footage of sledding and shoes.

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