It’s the focus on real people and events in real time

I’ve spoken to 20 media professionals for this project about the importance of photojournalism. Each person had stories to tell about significant visual moments that made a difference in their communities.

Those moments focus on real people and events — large and small — that happen in real time. That’s the purpose of photojournalism, my subjects told me, to focus on the lives of people in the community and to record and reflect what has happened.

I’ve wanted to capture and curate the way these journalists talk about the craft. Now, I have their words, in droves.

This has taken a great amount of editing. The subjects have been eager to talk — with some interviews lasting more than two hours. It has been tough to boil it down to digestible elements for social media. But, of course, that’s the key to engaging an audience.

It’s wonderful to hear the passion of these people. The cadence, nuance and dedication for impactful storytelling is infectious. Six of the interviews have been edited into longer videos that will be housed on my new project website.

More than half of my pieces are ready to roll. I’ve found that the best way to create a campaign is to assemble each of the social media posts ahead of time for the various platforms.



Each Instagram post is composed of 4-10 frames. I have created at least one Instagram post for each person interviewed. Designed to be ponderable and digestible, the posts make the best use of the platform by allowing people to scroll back and forth.

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter posts focus on an image with a short quote, or a short video designed to play in the viewer. The short videos are hosted on Vimeo and will have links to any of the longer videos created for the project. I have written a post that will be updated on that day to reflect current events. Each post also tags appropriate individuals, NPPA and RJI.

Here’s the strategy I’ve come up with:

The audience:Newsroom leaders — grappling with the diminished staffing levels.
 Publishers of storytelling — non-profit news, bloggers, etc.
 Educators and students — looking for thoughtful materials on storytelling
 Consumers of news and media — looking to make sense of the world
Platforms chosen:Instagram — highly visual; it’s all about sharing images w/ followers
 Facebook — visual, easily shareable, relationships to groups + individuals
 Twitter — has broadest reach for timely news and trends, easily shareable
Branding:This short video branding will accompany all social media posts.

The content

Interview posts

Each of the 20 social media posts includes a photo of the person I’ve interviewed with a series of short quotes and images. Each will also have branding, a link to the project website with longer video interviews and appropriate tags to individuals, NPPA and RJI.

It’s been important to me to include stories with wide-ranging impact as well as quieter stories which help people pause and reflect on everyday life.

Interview posts

Research posts 

Five of the posts highlight data and case studies from my earlier research for NPPA with links and a clear explanation of that eye tracking project. Here are a few examples of the data:

 Research posts

The schedule

I have created a calendar for posting and will post regularly over the next six months or so, starting February 1. Posts will be staggered and tweets will be repeated — as advised by research through Twitter that says tweets that come in bursts from the originator garner more attention than a single post.

I am using a visual storytelling platform called Visura that will allow some of this posting to be more easily facilitated. Visura is also the host for my project website and I have hired them to create the research testing site that I will write about in my next post.

A sample month of posting

Variety of voices 

  • 6 Staff photographers (independent contractor, small newspapers, medium-sized broadcast)
  • 5 Directors of photography (small to medium-sized news markets)
  • 5 Educators (print and broadcast)
  • 3 News leaders in upper management
  • 1 Journalist and tech entrepreneur
  • 5 posts will highlight findings from the NPPA photojournalism research project in 2015

Yet to come will be findings from my new testing project on photos captions which will focus on comprehension, retention and sense of trust.

I am pleased with the perspectives on photojournalism gathered for this social media part of the project. I am eager to get the ideas out there and I’m hoping for a viral moment for photojournalism — even if it’s a little one.

Sara Quinn  
2020–2021 RJI Fellow


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