The year of the Instagram Story

“Is making news content appealing in a Story format a challenge? Absolutely. But the window of opportunity is short, as Story-watching habits are being cemented and loyalties developed right now.”

There is one clear digital behavior that has seen explosive growth in 2017 and will leave other platforms in the dust in 2018 — the Instagram Story.

Even as a local media outlet, Charlotte Agenda’s Stories are being viewed by 10-, 15-, 20,000 Charlotteans at a time, and still we’re just scratching the surface.

As new features are quietly unrolled by Instagram and its Facebook masterminds, our team is left to play strategic catchup. We haven’t started experimenting with Story Highlights. The fact that users can now follow hashtags (ours, #cltagenda, has been included in 25,000-plus posts) means we have the opportunity to build a community even beyond our direct followership.

And, because we are a business, we’re simultaneously experimenting with how to deliver messages there on behalf of our 25 sponsors. They need to be messages that we’re proud of, that are useful and relevant, and that are labeled transparently but in a way that isn’t jarring.

We even find ourselves preparing traditional story boards as we produce our Instagram Stories, re-examining yet again how to best make use of short(er)-form narrative.

Video clips are integrated with stills, one-liners of text are sprinkled with emoji — the end product feels casual, conversational, and often downright silly. But if we as Instagram users are spending an average of 24 to 32 minutes watching Stories, then we as producers have to treat them as what they are — the new TV.

Is making news content appealing in a Story format a challenge? Absolutely. But the window of opportunity is short, as Story-watching habits are being cemented and loyalties developed right now. It will be well worth the time for any media organization to create content worthy of the platform’s new, dominant role in American life.

Cristina Wilson is the chief operating officer of Charlotte Agenda.

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Paul Ford   Go global

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Jake Levine   The return to now

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Burt Herman   Things get real

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Errin Haines   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives