Instagramming the news at SXSWi

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Instagramming the news at SXSWi

Instagram and other social media tools are transforming the way photographers, journalists and everyday users are documenting news around the world. In 2013, David Guttenfelder, the AP’s chief Asia photographer, became one of the first foreign photographers allowed to work in North Korea, and he uses Instagram to capture and publish intimate images. We see,  instantly,  a different side of the world’s most militarized society.

David Guttenfelder was part of a SXSWi panel which included TIME Photo Editor Kira Pollack and Instagram Community Leader Dan Toffey. They discussed the growing influence of social media on photo journalism specifically how Instagram allows real-time news coverage through visual storytelling.

“When something is quiet and subtle, I think to myself, this is an Instagram moment,” Guttenfelder told the crowd. He said using a phone is much more discrete than a camera and this lets him snap images quickly and with little intrusion.  He posts his photos immediately, never using a filter to manipulate how the images look, to be seen by more than 310,000 followers.

But it’s the social nature of Instagram that has had the most personal impact, according to Guttenfelder. He gets questions and comments directly from viewers, a new concept in his profession.  He said that the speed of publication and direct connection to viewers is transformational for him.

Kira Pollack said that Time’s “Lessons from the Storm” edition used an Instagram image as its cover photo, after having  assigned five reporters to cover Hurricane Sandy via Instagram. The magazine’s Instagram profile saw a 12,000 increase in followers as a result of its storm coverage.

Our job is to showcase the diversity of the Instagram community worldwide,” said Dan Toffey. “Photos serve as a reminder that the mundane everyday things are still taking place amongst chaos.”

It’s clear that social media continues to disrupt the status quo and to transform the news media. That the North Korean regime allows Instagram access is astounding, really.  Is social media disrupting North Korea policy?


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