Mason professor creates news app for online journalists


By Isabella LaMagdeleine, Staff Writer

A Mason professor has developed a new app called InstaStream for reporters and others to upload pictures directly into a Facebook livestream broadcast. The app also lets journalists see and respond to comments from people watching in real time, making a fully interactive experience.

Hope Hutman, adjunct professor of new media within Mason’s School of Art, wanted an easier way to add visuals and pictures from events to a livestream broadcast. After last year’s election, she thought this app would be a good way to be able to cover any kind of breaking news activity or event. The app lets journalists get involved and participate, and then tell the story using the photos in a livestream or save them to report later.

“We worry a lot today about ‘fake’ news and how technology is going to be our ruin,” Hutman said. “But I think traditional media needs to catch up with the possibilities that the technology affords and the way we are all already using technology to get our news, to explore issues more deeply, and to share our thoughts and opinions.”

Hutman also founded the TelefomProjekt, the app’s developer. The company is involved in creative software development and mobile applications for storytellers and journalists. Their technology allows content producers and creators to interact beyond their typical relationship with media viewers, having conversations through text or speaking interactions that actually affect a story that can be delivered in any form over the internet.

“The people who get to tell the story have always had the power,” she added, “and one good thing about where we are with technology is that we all have a chance to tell our story, to be seen and to be heard.”

This is not Hutman’s only project, however. Beside being an adjunct professor at Mason and founder of TelefomProjekt, she also is a project specialist at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Computational Cinematic Studio, which is involved with human-computer interaction (HCI) research with a focus on visual narrative and culture building. Previously, Hutman worked as an artist in residence at North Carolina State University. The TelefomProjekt also worked for several major movie projects, including Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Watchmen.

At this time, InstaStream can only be used directly with Facebook Live, but the content can also be shared on Instagram or Twitter. There are plans in the future to move to other platforms. The InstaStream app is available now in the iTunes app store.

Graphic by Billy Ferguson