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Instagram’s Uneasy Rise as a News Site

Instagram’s Uneasy Rise as a News Site

On a recent Wednesday in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, Mosheh Oinounou, a former producer for CBS, Bloomberg News and Fox News, swiped through Instagram. He had started his morning reading major newspapers and more than a dozen newsletters. Then he spent much of the day turning many of the articles into posts on his Instagram account, under the handle Mo News.

A Wall Street Journal story on aging Americans was relayed through a picture of a cake declaring, “Record Number of Americans Will Turn 65 This Year: Wealthy, Active, And Single.” At times, Mr. Oinounou, an affable 41-year-old, has also appeared on camera with the co-host of his daily news podcast to explain the significance of how Republican presidential candidates were polling and why President Biden was a write-in candidate in New Hampshire.

The content has earned Mo News 436,000 Instagram followers, turning what had been a pandemic side project into an enterprise with three full-time employees and a bigger spotlight. In December, the State Department offered Mo News an interview with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. Mr. Oinounou said the agency had told him, “We understand how people are getting their news.”

“People are very critical and cynical about information they’re getting from traditional outlets,” Mr. Oinounou said in an interview. “It resonates where this guy on Instagram is breaking down the news.”

Mosheh Oinounou, left, wearing a dark shirt and headphones, sits across a table from Jill Wagner, who is wearing a dark sweater and headphones and typing on a laptop. On the table are two mugs that say “Mo News” along with a round Mo News sign at the far end of the table.
Mosheh Oinounou of Mo News at his Brooklyn office, where he and his co-host, Jill Wagner, record a daily news podcast.DeSean McClinton-Holland for The New York Times

Mr. Oinounou is part of a crop of personalities who have figured out how to package information and deliver it on Instagram, increasingly turning the social platform into a force in news. Many millennials and Gen X-ers, in an echo of how older generations used Facebook, have grown more comfortable reading news on Instagram and reposting posts and videos for friends on Instagram Stories, which disappear after 24 hours.

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