Storify: The Future of Social Media and Journalism

Social media has taken off like a rocket over the last six years or so. It all started with MySpace, then Facebook came around and made the process of being friends with someone ridiculously easy. After that, photo and networking sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr started popping up. All these networks made connecting with the world unbelievably easy. Now the future of social media is upon us and it’s a fun website called Storify.

Mostly everyone, at least in the western world, loves social media.

They love the ease of connection, the feedback and the interesting debates about the news that’s currently taking place. Now imagine taking all the interesting parts and making them into a blog post, a story or even an article for a news network. That’s exactly what Storify does.

After listening to Josh Stearns, of the Free Press, talk about Storify and his 2011 Storify of the Year, I was thoroughly impressed at the potential Storify has in creating a new type of journalism.

Listening to him speak and through my own judgements, this type of “new media” can allow a user to take all sorts of tidbits of information from across the internet, such as tweets, quotes from news articles, videos from YouTube, pictures, and feedback from the public etc. to go and make a very interesting and interactive news article, similar to what Stearns did with his Storify of the Year project.

In his Storify, he was able to narrow down the journalist arrests at the Occupy movements all across the U.S., and make it into an interesting story by capturing quotes and tweets from the journalists on the ground who were getting arrested. He learned of these journalists by tracking them on Twitter, and then captured their direct tweets.

By doing this, he was able to show his viewers a visual of what was actually going on was for real and that the tweets backed up his claims as legitimate sources. This helped make his Storify more concrete and relevant as a news story.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe Storify is the future of social media and journalism.

Old-school journalism where a reporter goes to an event, covers it, and writes a 900-word story on it at his desk, or gets information from the AP wire, will one day become a thing of the past. Social media has connected the world and everyone has tapped into it to connect with each other.

Even the media networks and reporters are connected. Using those sites have enabled them to share information with the world at a much quicker rate. Storify will allow a social media geek to put stories together as soon as news happens by the second. News happens quick, but it takes a network a little bit of time to get on the air to report something and it takes journalists at least an hour or so to write a good story or blog post. Storify will decrease time.

Imagine if Storify and social media was around during 9/11. A second-by-second log could be recorded. Videos of the chaos and the scene in NYC could be uploaded. Tweets from people inside the Twin Towers or at the scene could be pooled together. Since everyone is connected, someone could’ve made a Storify to track this devastating event to show everyone what was going on without having them search all over the internet for news.

Plus, Storify allows a story to grow.

In other words, a journalist can keep adding to it where it’ll eventually become a chronological journal of the event. Traditional articles can’t technically grow, as a writer would have to pen another article to keep things relevant.

Another thing Storify does is it allows anyone to be a journalist.

The pros are it allows people who understand social media well and who understand journalism ethics to quickly make an interesting story that can clarify things for readers and viewers. Journalists will find this tool to be extremely helpful with their job.

The cons are anyone can do it. Someone who uses a computer all day and doesn’t have many responsibilities can put together something as relevant as a journalist and take full credit for “reporting” it without having the credentials, or having done the tough work. All people have to do is take the relevant social media tidbits they find and put it together as a story and call it their own. Like Stearns said, Storify attributes sources so no one can really claim plagiarism or that they weren’t cited correctly.

In the future, I expect many, if not all, news groups to have Storify as an integral part of their corporation. Just the site allowing someone to bring all sorts of information together is such an amazing tool to have. It’s reasonably easy to use so the learning curve wouldn’t be too hard, especially for anyone who has knows how to use Facebook or a computer.

In an age where everyone is online, many news organizations might find it easier to utilize than using old-fashioned reporting techniques. Combination reporting could be a new way to report events. Having journalists out on the ground tweeting and taking videos then having them send them to a social media reporter to put together a Storify could be a new wave of revolutionizing reporting that takes covering news to a whole new level.

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