Home Blog PR|Trends Is short-form Instagram video the future of news distribution?

Is short-form Instagram video the future of news distribution?


A couple weeks ago, I read an article over at the Nieman Journalism Lab site about a relatively new news site named “NowThis News.” Just what we need–another online news site, right? This one’s a little different though, according to the Nieman post, in that it focuses heavily on short-burst videos.

I’m talking REAL short. Instagram 15-second video short.

In fact NowThis New has amassed almost 50,000 followers on its Instagram account where it shares 15-second videos daily (8-10 times a day, according to the post).

The videos are pretty well done. They’re informative, packed with info and include text overlays to relay additional information. In this way, NowThis News is breaking and sharing news in a whole different way than most other media outlets (using Instagram video, at least).

My question is this: Will it work?

Bigger question: Is this really the future of news consumption online?

You’ve probably seen the same numbers I’ve seen lately.

Two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2017. 

Online video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016.

Globally, online video traffic will be 55 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2016.

Clearly, younger people are turning to online (mobile) video for all sorts of information–including news. Add to that the explosion of mobile. Add to that the ever-shortening attention spans.

OK, I’m starting to buy in.

Except, I’m not.

There’s a lot to love about what NowThis News is doing here with short-form video. They’re reaching a target audience traditional media probably just isn’t reaching. And they’re reaching them on their terms. Nicely done.

But, my issue isn’t with the “how they’re doing this” it’s with the “SHOULD they be doing this”–and should WE be validating it.

That’s the big issue here. Like Jeff Goldblum said in Jursasic Park, (paraphrasing) “You were so preoccupied with if you COULD, you never stopped to think if you SHOULD.”

Could NowThis News use Instagram-short videos to reach the younger demographic to get them the news of the day? Sure. They ARE doing this now–with what seems like pretty darn good success.

But, SHOULD they be doing this? Does this really qualify as quality journalism?

I know, the younger folks are going to laugh and point fingers at the old guy now. I get it. I still get my daily newspaper. I still watch the 10 p.m. local news. I’m a dinosaur. I know.

But, I also know the role journalism is supposed to play in our society. The role of watchdog. The role of purveyor of information and opinion about public affairs. Information shared by news sites still plays a key part in our lives, as a society–no matter what anyone says. Are these 15-second videos helping advance those journalistic missions?

I’m curious to hear from you. What do you think of NowThis News and their 15-second news videos? Next wave of the daily news? Or, overblown fad that will be gone within two years?



Catch up on the latest trends and insights in social media, PR and digital marketing.