Rethinking Storify

A few years ago, I received an invitation to beta test Storify. I still don’t know why I was chosen, but it probably had something to do with my job as web editor at a paper known for covering New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. It wasn’t long before Storify projects became mainstays on our political blog.

Storify makes it easy to capture a cross section of community sentiment or cover a major event in real time. (It’s also fantastic for reporting bits of social media culture, like the birth of the New Hampshire primary’s hashtag.)

One of the coolest parts of experimenting with a new tool is seeing how other journalists use it to tell the stories that are important to them. I never thought of maintaing a Storify that grows over the course of many months, but that’s exactly what Josh Stearns has been doing since the fall of 2011. Stearns, a media reform advocate with Free Press, has used Storify to track the arrests of journalists covering Occupy protests. (See how the story’s introduction fosters conversation by including ways to pass along tips? Brilliant!)

Last week, Stearns spoke via Google Hangout to one of my classes at Northeastern University. He had some other ideas for using Storify that go beyond basic curation: The slideshow tool, he said, is good for photo galleries. And an unpublished story can serve as a sort of social media notebook because Storify archives tweets even after they’ve been deleted from Twitter.

Stearns also talked about taking a “slow-news approach” to social media journalism. That means carefully selecting the best story elements and using verification techniques to make sure the information is accurate.

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