Emojis in social media posts: have they become a thing in journalism?

On Wednesday, KCRW, an L.A. public radio station, used emojis in a tweet that promoted its “Morning Becomes Eclectic” show.

That same day, BuzzFeed News used one in an Instagram post about the NFL’s “Deflategate” investigation.

Emoji’s have seemingly become almost a standard in everyday communication, but it’s still fairly surprising to see them in news outlets’ social media posts even two years after USA Today, perhaps jokingly, tried their hand at it.

That tweet was later highlighted in this piece.

In it, journalism professionals dismissed emoji-use.

However, Gregory Norfleet, identified as editor of West Branch Times, shared advantages:

“I’ve never used emoji nor emoticons, but if it makes for a better headline or graphic — more reader-friendly — I would. Readers, voters, taxpayers, etc. — if it draws them in to read the story, they become MORE informed.”

Fast forward to 2015, it looks like journalism has not fully embraced them. Both Instagram and Twitter lets users (or me, at least) search for emojis, but seeing them in journalism social media posts remains unlikely despite how often they are used casually.

USA Today’s takeaways from their Final Four coverage with Persciope

Live streaming video app Meerkat may have been the craze at last month’s SXSW, but its rival Periscope has not been ignored.

One major example is USA Today covering the NCAA Final Four with the latter. On the Nieman Journalism Lab blog, USA Today’s Tanya Sichynsky shares takeaways from the experience using the app at the event.

One of them was how to use the replay feature:

“Periscope gives you with the option to replay your broadcast after filming, but depending on how good your wifi or 4G service is, it may take a long time to save. If you’re trying to do one live stream after another, that urgency may cost you the replay function.”

Here is her post with more Periscope tips.

Journos talk using new, live video-streaming app Meerkat

Apps that let you broadcast video is nothing new.

In 2013, social media app Pheed reportedly let users live-stream video to other users. More recently, another app, called Mobli (which is said to have acquired Pheed) claimed it let users do the same.

Neither seemed to attract much attention from journalists. But the new app, Meerkat, looks like it already has since reportedly arriving on the Apple App Store just last month.

Poynter talked to a reporter that has already used the app, which boasts it “allows you to stream live video from your phone to all of your Twitter followers at once.”

In an email, tech writer Monica Guzman told Poynter, “On the surface, it looks like a really great tool for breaking news and developing news.”

Poynter also talked to TV anchor Amy Wood, who emailed the blog saying she had already used Meerkat for breaking news and that it’s easy to use for those already on Twitter.


Other publications that have tried Meerkat shared their expressive with Digiday.

One of them, the BBC, used Meerkrat to cover the aftermath of the recent police shootings in Ferguson. Missouri.

BBC reporter Franz Strasser told Digiday, “We’re still not entirely convinced this is the best option, but we’re willing in trying out all these different platforms.”

Another was Mashable, which, at this year’s SXSW, used the app to interview people and give tours of Austin, Texas. Areas of improvement, Mashable Collective’s Jeff Petriello told Digiday, were “lighting and sound.”

MSNBC, NowThis working together to deliver on Facebook video news

Following the unveiling of Snapchat Discover, which features reports expiring in 24 hours, MSNBC and distributor NowThis have reportedly joined to deliver on Facebook their own “daily” videos.

That’s according to Variety, which reports MSNBC will produce two videos a day, while NowThis will serve as a “distributor of digital video.”


“One [of the videos], “Sound Off,” will focus on a breaking story in the morning that users can discuss and debate. The other, “FacePalm,” will appear toward the end of the day and examine one of the most shocking or frustrating events in the news cycle. The videos series will be released through NowThis’ and MSNBC’s Facebook pages.”

The two programs are described as “daily,” but whether they expire in 24 hours like Snapchat Discover’s news reports remains unclear. There is also no word on when they will debut.

When they do, it appears one way the videos will to distinguish themselves from Discover’s content is by engaging viewers, at least in the case of “Sound Off.”

How HuffPo LA, which rarely covers sports, live-tweeted an NBA game

Huffington Post L.A., Huffington Post’s section focusing on Los Angeles news, did something unusual Wednesday. The blog, which seems to seldom cover sports, live-tweeted an NBA game between the L.A. Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers.

According to Huffington Post L.A.’s Twitter bio, all of the account’s tweets are by Huffington Post editor Sasha Bronner.

Some of the tweets were edgy, apparently taking a snarky jab at the telecast’s music selection, other times poking fun at Clippers player Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

Here is a taste of what was tweeted:

The snark was toned down with a question to “readers”:

Ultimately, the live-tweeting got some negative responses. Here is one: (Sorry, embedding the other, which had an emoji, did not work)

(I was unfortunately unable to see the game myself, so will try not to go too far when commenting.)

Huffington Post L.A. deserves credit for “trying something new,” but commenting on the music and making “Big Baby” jokes showed an apparent lack of basketball knowledge.

New York Times social media team does not forget old school principles

In journalism, fundamentals are important. And at The New York Times, editorial judgement is among the rules stressed not just in the traditional forms of reporting, but on social media as well.

Michael Roston, editor on The New York Times social media desk, told the American Journalism Review working in “different journalistic settings” helps journalists know what is newsworthy. His experience, he said, came from working as the paper’s “overnight homepage editor.”

And when it comes to on what platforms they deliver this news, Roston told AJR it depends on what’s worth the time.

“We’re certainly interested in all sorts of different platforms and finding new ways to connect to readers, and I think the questions always are, ‘How much effort are you going to invest, and will it payoff enough to make it worthwhile?’ Sometimes it’s good not to be first on some of these things, though, because sometimes they turn out to be nothing.”

Here is the post with more of what he had to say about The New York Times social media’s approach.

Cartoonists “live-draw” The Oscars for The New Yorker

The New Yorker is known not just for its journalism, but also its cartoons. And for The Oscars Sunday night, cartoonists Liza Donnelly and Bob Eckstein created drawings of the awards show as it progressed.

Here is a taste of the work on Eckstein’s Twitter:

And not only were Donnelly’s drawings posted on her Twitter, but she apparently satisfied tweeted requests on what to draw:

The “live-draw[ing]” approach is no cake walk. Leading up to the big night, Donnelly told The Poughkeepsie Journal, “I see the person on the screen, and judge if they will be on the screen for at least 30 seconds. If not, then I may have to give up on them and not even try.”

As for the cartoons that did make it to social media, it remains unclear why they were not shown on The New Yorker’s Instagram. But the work deserves credit since it is a move away from the usual stop-motion animation, which other publications use, and showcases one of The New Yorker’s traditions.

Why New York Times goes basically all in on Instagram, despite the disadvantages

Instagram prohibits links in posts, and is therefore not known for its ability to drive traffic to a publication.

But The New York Times could apparently care less.


“Over the past few weeks, the Times started new Instagram accounts for its video team, sports desk, marketing department and events team. Those four joined existing Times accounts forfood, travel, fashion and T Magazine content. That makes eight active Times Instagram account today, with plans to launch a primary @NYTimes account in the next month or two.”

Alexandra MacCallum, the paper’s assistant managing editor for audience development, told Digiday “it’s much more about building awareness and, hopefully, loyalty for The New York Times broadly, but particularly for the Times’ incredible visual storytelling.”

One account that has especially “[built] awareness” is its fashion one, with more than 700 thousand followers. In Digiday’s post, MacCallum attributed its popularity to “a very passionate editor who cared about maintaining a specific visual voice.”

The fashion Instagram has more followers than any of the paper’s other accounts, and analytics site Social Blade shows the number of followers per day has recently skyrocketed. But the popularity of The New York Times, especially its fashion coverage, has seemingly played more of a role than “passionate editing” and “specific visual voice.”

Clarification: While Digiday reported The New York Times’ most recent Instagram accounts were made “over the past few weeks,” you may notice posts dating back to longer than three weeks ago. This is because, as The New York Times has confirmed, the accounts was made private before being unveiled.

Why BuzzFeed, once in talks to be on Snapchat Discover, is missing from the section

More than a week has passed since Snapchat unveiled its Discover section. But BuzzFeed, which was reportedly in talks with Snapchat to be featured on it, remains missing.

It now appears BuzzFeed’s absence stemmed from a disagreement on how the content would look.

The Wall Street Journal:

“At an internal meeting this week, BuzzFeed chief executive Jonah Peretti detailed to employees why: the two companies were at loggerheads creatively, people at the meeting said. At issue was the fact that Snapchat’s editorial team would be involved in BuzzFeed’s content, creating friction. The two companies had ‘creative differences,’ Mr. Peretti said at the meeting, a person familiar with the matter said.”

Despite Snapchat being “involved” in the content, Snapchat’s Jill Hazelbaker told The Wall Street Journal “publishers have complete editorial control over their channels.”

Here is The Wall Street Journal article with more on the failed negotiations between BuzzFeed and Snapchat.

With Discover, Snapchat brings back professionally-crafted news

As announced last year it would, Snapchat now offers the Discover section of their application. In the section, users can see news outlets that have joined the feature and swipe through the news organizations’ video and written content for that day.

Techcrunch says the feature signals a step away from citizen journalism:

“This new Discover page puts media at the forefront of Snapchat’s product. Brands and publishers are delivering content to users as opposed to relying solely on content users create to power usage of the company.”

After I tried it out, it actually appears to represent a major step away from citizen journalism.

A menu of brands showing their content on Discover…

snapchat discover

A screenshot of a video news report I got after hitting CNN…

CNN on snapchat discover

A screenshot of a video highlight I got after hitting ESPN…

ESPN on snapchat discover

Here is a look at how other outlets, People Magazine and Yahoo News, apparently used the feature:

Discover acts as a cross between a news app and a video-streaming service, especially with the ESPN stream concluding its series of game highlights and analysis with its iconic Sportscenter theme song, usually heard on TV.

The focus on quality of content is unsurprising considering Snapchat reportedly brought on board former newspeople to work on the feature.

When rumors emerged last year about Snapchat’s Discover section, BuzzFeed was among the news outlets reportedly in talks to be featured. However, as of the second day of the section being up, BuzzFeed has not been shown and it remains unclear why.

[Update: BuzzFeed’s failure to be featured was due to a disagreement in how the blog’s content would look, per The Wall Street Journal]

Snapchat is not totally anti-citizen journalism. In June 2014, it announced the Our Story feature that lets users add their post to a series of posts from a certain event. From the looks of it, Our Story will stay in tact.

Covering the use of social media in journalism