Using Viddy For Video Journalism


Social media services have been growing in popularity as a platform for journalists.  Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other tools allow journalists to quickly publish content and have the information spread virally.

Now a new tool allows the same kind of crowd-sourced journalism for video: Viddy.

Like Instagram, videos can be searched by hashtag, liked and their creators "followed."
Like Instagram, videos can be searched by hashtag, liked and their creators “followed.”

My advanced video production students recently authored documentary projects using the social app, which is like Instagram for video.  The app’s recent updates now allow videos of up to 30 seconds to be posted with comments and hashtags.  By using the free service, my students can share their work with people around the world who never knew they–or my program–existed.

Here is a description of their assignment and what we learned through the process.

Assignment: create a 30 second personal essay documentary authored exclusively with your mobile device (shot, edited, etc.) and then post to Viddy using the hashtags #cinemalab, #documentary, #miracostahighschool (our school’s name), and the theme of the project, #muse.  The challenge was to create a doc that discussed the inspiration for their art.

Results: The students developed a variety of innovative approaches to the topic, and all were able to upload to Viddy.  They had many views of their work by people outside of the class that they have never met.

Obstacles we ran into:

  • Not everyone had a mobile device capable of shooting and editing video.  I loaned a class ipad to the one student who didn’t have a device (everyone else had one, or borrowed one from a friend/family member).
  • How to create titles with a font and in a screen position that weren’t allowed by editing software.  Solutions included trying different editing apps, and using Keynote to create slides with text.
  • Students complained about the lack of control while editing with mobile apps–they’re used to the power and control of Pro apps on desktop computers.  The trade off is portability and cost–a few dollars compared to hundreds for desktop software.

Suggestions for future work:

  • Others co-opted our hashtag (#cinemalab), so if you search only by that term, you’ll see work from other people.
  • Consider a single account for your publication and allowing all staff members to use the password so all videos appear in a single feed (similar to how you might use Instagram).
One of the 30 second documentaries created by my students.

Why you should consider Viddy as an option for video journalism

  • It’s a free way to host video.
  • Video stories can be shot, edited, and uploaded remotely, without having to return to the classroom.
  • Vine (owned by Twitter) only allows 6 second clips, which isn’t long enough for any journalistic substance.  Viddy is up to 30 seconds.
  • It’s viral, and your audience doesn’t need to have prior knowledge about you or your program to see your stories.  They also don’t have to make an effort to go to your website to watch your content.
  • It doesn’t have the viewership of YouTube, but then again it’s probably not blocked by your school’s IT department either.

Here is a partial list of apps my students used to create their projects:

Click HERE to see a list of other apps for mobile audio, video and photography.

To see the documentaries and other projects created by my students, log into Viddy and search the hashtags #cinemalab and #miracostahighschool.  Share your experience with Viddy or other video social media apps by leaving comments below.


Michael Hernandez

Michael has taught Film/Video Production and Broadcast Journalism since 1999, and advises the Pacemaker-winning Mustang Morning News. He regularly presents seminars on journalism, video and technology-related topics, and is a former JEA National Broadcast Adviser of the Year. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cinehead

Michael Hernandez has 52 posts and counting. See all posts by Michael Hernandez

One thought on “Using Viddy For Video Journalism

  • May 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    This is a great real-world project that has so many tiny lessons for students. I will have to try this project with my students next year. Well done Michael, to you and your class.

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