Social Storytelling: Social Media Curation Tools to Gather and Present News

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<ul><li><p>Lanita Withers Goins April 23, 2013 </p><p> Social Storytelling: Covering the hows and whys of using social media </p><p>curation tools to gather and present news Social media, barely a decade old, has not only revolutionized the way we communicate -- the medium has also revolutionized the way journalists collect and report news. From giving almost instant access to community sentiment to providing a way to collect first-hand accounts of breaking news, social media has expanded the boundaries of newsrooms and reporters ability to collect, synthesize and distribute the news of the day. Realizing the power of social networks for not only gathering but also distributing news, many media organizations have made social networking a key part of their enterprises. My local daily, the (Greensboro) News &amp; Record includes reporters Twitter handles with their tagline contact information at the end of articles, giving that form of communication the same weight as a phone number or an email address and encouraging the public to contact journalists using the medium. But how do reporters mold this new communication tool into into an effective and valuable source of information? After all, a single Tweet, Instagram photo or Facebook comment does not a story make. Thats where a social media curation tool -- such as Storify -- becomes invaluable. These software applications give reporters the ability to organize social media -- platforms that facilitate the sharing of information in virtual or online communities -- into a coherent collection of information. This storified form of curation gives readers another way to experience, interpret and explore the news of the day. Social media curation tools allows you to crowdsource your news, said L. Danielle Baldwin, the owner of Sociia, a social media strategy company. Using many resources and multiple perspectives, these platforms allow you to take tiny bits of news and build them into a big and impactful story. How does it work? Storify, a free online program, allows users to pull content from across the web and various social media networks and edit that information to tell a cohesive story. Once curated, the story can be embedded into a website and also shared across social media networks. </p></li><li><p> Example of a Storify story embedded into an article on the Daily Tar Heels website. The program is designed to provide something that can be missing in the social media realm: organized structure. I think that any type of curation tool keeps you focused. Theres so much out there, so many different platforms or tools. Its having a place where you organize, said multimedia journalist and social media strategist Angela Conner. It can be the wild wild West out there. Thats why curation tools are very important. Storify works with a number of popular social media platforms, including </p><p> Twitter -- a micro-blogging site that allows users to communicate in 140 characters or less Facebook -- an online networking site where users can share information including status </p><p>updates, videos and photos </p></li><li><p> YouTube -- a social media site that allows users to share video Flickr -- a social media site that allows users to share pictures and photo albums Instagram -- another social media application that allows users to share photos and change their </p><p>appearances using filters Google -- a search engine that allows users to easily link to news stories, GIFs, images and </p><p>information found from searching the web, and Soundcloud, a site that allows users to share music and audio files. </p><p> Social media content can be added to a story using a simple drop-and-drag motion into the programs interface. The program also has a bookmarklet that can be added to your browsers toolbar (or as a browser extension) that creates a Storify this button. When you find content youd like to add to your curation, click the Storify this button for that link to be added to your StoryPad, a collection of links that you can choose from when curating your Storify story. Storify even allows users to search for content from within the program, rather than having to visit each platform individually. For example, a popular hashtag used on Tweets related to the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas is #prayforwest. (Hashtags are a way for users to link their content into a greater social media conversation about the same topic.) Instead of visiting Twitter to search for content to curate, a Storify user can easily search for the #prayforwest hashtag on Twitter from within the Storify program to find the content they seek. </p></li><li><p> A search for the #prayforwest hashtag in the Twitter application on Spotify pulled a number of responses the from which a user could choose. (Screenshot from Storify.com) Storify allows users to add a headline and introduction at the beginning of the story and additional content in between elements, giving the writer a way to thread a story together and provide vital context to readers. </p></li><li><p> An example of the Storify template, showing fields where the writer can add a headline, introductory paragraph, content and additional text fields. (Screenshot from Storify.com) That context is key for a strong story, said Dioni L. Wise, a former News &amp; Record reporter and current graduate student in Elon Universitys Interactive Media graduate program. Im looking for context, Wise said, describing the elements of a strong Storify curation. I like a good headline at the top. I dont like when people just slap videos into the program and dont provide context. You need a line that identifies someone. If theres a break in the discussion, make sure I understand that we changed topics. Make sure I understand the timing. If the latest information is up top, tell me that. Storify is a free service, but the company recently launched an invitation-only VIP premium service and a paid, business version that offers organizations more customization options. The free service is more than adequate for many personal and media uses. Using Storify for storytelling: There are multiple examples of media organizations and individuals using Storify for a variety of storytelling purposes. A sampling: Breaking news stories/ news chronology: </p><p> Craig Kanalley, a senior editor at the Huffington Post, curated 50 tweets (including 15 photos) and five videos in this day-by-day unfolding of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the search for suspects and answers. </p></li><li><p> A screenshot of Kanalleys Storify curation giving day-by-day coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath. </p><p> The Denver Posts first four days of coverage following the July 2012 Aurora movie theatre shooting: http://storify.com/denverpost/aurora-theater-shooting-recap </p><p> To give a sense of time/place or historic relevance: </p><p> This Storify coverge of TEDxUNC 2013 gives users a sense of what happened at the event as if they were there: http://storify.com/Lincoln_Ross/tedxunc-common-threads-highlights </p><p> NBCs Today Show staff gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at their experiences covering the 2012 </p><p>London Olympic Games: http://storify.com/nbcnews/all-things-today-at-the-2012-london-olympic-games</p><p> Background storytelling: </p><p> The Canadian Broadcasting Corporations coverage of social media campaigns for and against same-sex marriage in the lead-up to U.S. Supreme Court hearings on the topic: http://storify.com/cbccommunity/same-sex-marriage-campaigning </p><p> Memorials and remembrances: </p><p> The San Bernidino Sun pulled from various sources to curate this Storify on the death of beloved Disney </p></li><li><p>Mouseketeer Annette Funicello: http://storify.com/sbsun/annette-funicello-disney-mouseketeer-and-film-star </p><p> NBC News used Storify to curate a piece on the global response to the death of iconic British Prime </p><p>Minister Margaret Thatcher: http://storify.com/nbcnews/world-remembers-england-s-iron-lady A note of caution: While valuable for social storytelling, experts caution that social media curation tools arent a replacement for reporters training and intuition. Social media does have true value but its just like any other source -- its up to the reporter to verify the information, said Wise. Conner agreed. Should you believe a tweet from just anyone you see? Of course not. You should verify the news. News breaks on social media now and news organizations get firsthand accounts from people who were there on social media. The plane that landed on the Hudson River? The pictures -- that were were all over every newspaper -- were from an eyewitness. That was tweeted. How can you ignore that and say it has no power? Social media is a source for news. </p><p>##### Additional resources on using Storify: </p><p> Getting started with Storify, by StorifyFAQ on Storify.com, 2011 Five types of stories that make good Storifys, by Mallary Jean Tenore on Poynter, Nov. 21, 2011 Dos and donts for using Storify, by Dave Copeland on ReadWrite, Feb. 21, 2012 10 ways journalists can use Storify, published by Zombie Journalism, Oct. 21, 2010 How to use Storify to effectively amplify your brand, news or an event, posted by Becky Gaylord </p><p>on SocialMedia Today, Sept. 5, 2012 How Journalists can use Storify to cover any kind of meeting, by Elana Zak on Media Bistros </p><p>10,000 Words, Dec. 9, 2011 How to verify information from tweets: check it out, by Steve Buttrey on The Buttrey Diary, Jan. </p><p>21, 2013 (added post submission) </p></li></ul>