Storify is one of the most exciting journalism tools of the year. The mission of the platform is to make social media the story ― not just the distribution tool, explained Xavier Damman, co-founder of the site.
“Storytelling has to be reinvented for this new social media age,” said Damman, speaking last week at the ReadWriteWeb 2WAY Summit in New York. Damman and co-founder and CEO Burt Herman created the tool with the mindset of facilitating collaborative storytelling, in which people of many skills work together on separate pieces to create a story. (Rob O'Regan previously wrote and demonstrated how Storify works.)
Many sites have used the tool initially to collect and display tweets. But the intention is to give journalists and users the ability to add context in order to weave together a more complete narrative. “We really want this to be the platform, basically the typewriter, of the social media age,” Damman said.
One reason Storify has received such strong adoption is because it's easy to use (requiring a simple embed code). “[Journalists] don't have to go to their tech staff,” Herman said in an interview.
Some news organizations and journalists have found innovative uses to tell stories and engage users. Here are some examples cited by Damman and Herman.
Capturing breaking news
Andy Carvin, senior strategist at NPR, has been at the forefront of using Twitter and Storify in reporting. He used Storify to capture the constant updates of the Arab uprisings and engage his audience in the newsgathering process. He then reorganized the material into a longer-form narrative.
"Given this was a real-time event literally unfolding moment by moment, I figured Storify was the way to capture the frenetic nature of a breaking news story," Carvin said of the Giffords story in an interview posted on the Storify blog.
Encouraging user contributions
The news organization Al Jazeera uses Storify to power a show called The Stream, which calls itself “a social media community with its own daily television programme.” The show encourages users to submit Storify pieces to be covered on the show, in hopes of tapping into some of the more untold stories on the Web.
Here's a sample show:
Aggregating user-generated content
Like Al Jazeera, the Los Angeles Time uses storify to involve its audience. The site's Daily Dish food blog has a weekly feature showcasing delicious food readers ate over the weekend. Users tweet with the hashtag #weekendeats and the blog aggregates the results into Storify. “It's an easy way to create more content for your site,” Herman noted.
The other important part of Storify is that media sites can use the platform to alert those they put in a story. It goes full circle, from the audience back to the audience, Herman explained.
New formats to tell a story
Users outside of news organizations are also using Storify in ways media organizations could learn from.
For instance, one Storify user used the platform to tell the story of his wedding. Guests were encouraged to use a hashtag that he later created into a sort of digital storybook. What could news organizations learn? Like the LA Times blog, media outlets could better leverage collecting content through hashtags that could either be standalone content or woven into a story.
And this is just aesthetically awesome: One user put together all the lyrics to the John Lennon song “Imagine,” finding a tweet for each individual line. What could news organizations learn? It's simple: Be creative!
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