The Student-Journalist Dichotomy
Being a student-journalist is a fascinating dichotomy. You are essentially reporting on yourself. You both report on the news and are an integral part of making it.
For example, tuition at Cal Poly is approximately $3,000 per quarter. We uncovered that some fellow students receive $3,000 every time they post a shoutout on Instagram. We could not help but relate to our interviewees, our fellow students, our peers here – as some of us work side jobs and take out loans to finance our education, and our subjects pay for similar lives with a single Instagram post. Forget reporting on these people – a part of us wishes we were these people.
The Instagram Inspiration
Our multimedia specialist, Maggie Hitchings, completed a project on instafame back in the day that left her with remaining unanswered questions. There was more to the tech-savvy story, and it was time for us to dig deeper and see how instafame and Cal Poly fit together.
“I had a good amount of knowledge about the concept of making money off your Instagram after doing that story, but I was surprised how easy it was to find sources for this topic!” said Hitchings. “I’m sure there are countless more people who have established instagram fame at Cal Poly that we still don’t know of.”
Barbara Levin, our editorial specialist, is from Denmark, and has seen the popularity of Instagram increase both in Europe and the United States as time progresses.
“Our group got inspired by the rise in popularity of Instagram and how personal account are turning them into a business and making a profit from their interest or passion such as modeling or living healthy,” said Levin.
Coverage: The Right Angle
After doing a preliminary engagement report, I soon realized that our topic was multifaceted and that we could probably do an hour-long documentary with a lengthy ten page spread on Instafame if we so pleased. As enticing as that sounds, we agreed as a team to narrow the scope to the business aspect of instafame, something we could notshake and knew Cal Poly readers would drool over and likely implicate in their lives.
“I had challenges with choosing what style of writing I wanted the editorial part of the story to be. There are many angles that I could’ve taken but I wanted to cover the general idea of what Instafamous is and how much work people put into it. Specifically, Cal Poly students,” said Levin.
Hitchings consistently kept the readers’ interests in mind.
“I am glad we took the angle of making money off your instagram, as I find this is what students will find the most interesting and be most curious about. A lot of people don’t care about instagram fame, and may even be annoyed about the whole concept, so taking the angle of how college students can make money off of their instagram accounts was a smart move by us,” said Hitchings.
Our broadcast reporter, Clara Knapp, captured the economic empathy associated with the story in her creative interview.
“I think that this project was a super cool idea because everyone is looking for ways to make money while in school, and it is such a simple and easy way to do it – it definitely breaks the confines of what you would normally expect from a part-time job” said Knapp.
We searched all corners of the internet and campus for a variety of instafamous students. We wanted people that were instafamous for different reasons – whether it be for the tofu-happy vegan food blogger or an Instagram worth double-tapping for the pictures of the girl drinking a margarita on the beach in a designer bikini. As the project’s public relations chair, if you go to Cal Poly and are even remotely instafamous, trust me, I found you, messaged you, sent a carrier pigeon to your house, etc.
“I liked the similarities and differences that each interviewee had to say,” said Levin. “They all talked about personal branding but their views of themselves and their brands all differed which was really cool to see. It showed that there isn’t just one path to becoming instafamous and that everyone takes their own route according to their own brand.”
In the end, we found the underlying commonalities and differences between all these instafamous peers of ours. We captured these local media moguls and humanized them so that readers relate to them as fellow Cal Poly students. Additionally, our piece provides applicable information as to how to brand yourself on social media and profit from it. One big takeaway is that instafame is not effortlessly achieved through a single sunset photo on Instagram. As most rewarding aspects of life do, it takes dedication.
One of our interviewees, Katie Postl, a recent Animal Science graduate, receives from double-taps on her Instagram posts than most of us ever will, but it isn’t exactly easy money.
“I don’t think people realize that me posting one picture is not like I’m quickly selecting one photo and caption. I have a list of captions that I wrote down months ago that I haven’t used,” Postl said. “I have to send my edited pictures to so many people before I post it and I have to get captions approved by the company before I post the photo. It’s a lot of work to post a single picture.”
“I think that this project definitely showed a fun and interesting side of social media that many people don’t really think about or notice, even though it is all around them. Hopefully people can use some of the tips and tricks in our story to build their own social media platform and make some mula,” said Knapp.
Blog Post by Allison Royal.