The Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), a 91-year-old Literary Magazine published by the University of Virginia, is creating a new kind of short story. One that I, for one, am excited to watch develop.
The goal: Bring readers compelling, non-fiction stories and images.
The medium: Instagram.
Dubbed as #VQRtruestory, VQR is taking a unique approach to photo-journalism, social media, and literature. They have decided each week to select a new writer to take over their Instagram feed and post original pictures and stories behind the pictures. The next week the stories and pictures will appear as essays on their website.
Shan Wang had an insightful article for NiemanLab last week about VQR’s idea. Mr. Wang’s article is what originally tipped me off on #VQRtruestory. From the article, VQR’s deputy editor Paul Reyes tells Shan Wang that this is an experiment they’re trying.
“We’re improvising as we go along. The potential lies in how Instagram, as a platform, shapes content. Part of this is determined by what people want to write about, what they’re sick of reading about, and how they might be motivated to push the limits of what can be done on this platform.”
Although both VQR and Mr. Wang claim this is different than Humans of New York, I am not quite sure how. The Humans of New York Facebook page took social media by storm the last few years. Featuring photographs of people and quotes from the featured individuals–quotes that capture the embodiment of the joy, or the happiness, or the pain, or the confusion of the people in the photographs–Humans of New York’s Facebook page has spawned a blog, print books, and much more. It has been wildly successful.
It’s no surprise that its success has created more and more copycats, and #VQRtruestory appears to be in that mold, but it has the backing of talented and creative individuals to differentiate itself. Maybe it will be more directed at journalism. Or maybe it will be a medium utilized to propel social change. Regardless, I am looking forward to following @VQReview and seeing what they come up with in #VQRtruestory.
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