Storify Offers Journalists New Way to Tell Story, But Highlights the Importance of Fact-Checking

It was great to have Josh Stearns of Free Press via video chat in class Thursday to talk about Storify. I had not been familiar with his work prior to class, but after seeing what he did covering the journalists being arrested in the Occupy protests I was impressed.

Storify is the new way of storytelling, but use with caution

During our chat a few things became apparent to me about Storify. Stearns mentioned that in order for a social media tool to be effective it has to 1) Solve a problem, and 2) Be flexible. Storify fits both these criteria.

First, start with problem solving. Due to instant updating from social media sites, Storify is always able to stay up-to-date with news. It also abides by another journalistic credo: Show, don’t tell. By using status updates, photos and video, journalists can show people what is happening rather than simply telling them.

Second, is flexibility. What I like about Storify is that you can use it however you want. Since you’re plucking from the grab bag of social media, you can choose what you want to show and order it however you like. For instance, Storify has lots of topics related to the Super Bowl. I found one by Bruce Allen, the writer of Boston Sports Media Watch whom I follow on Twitter. Allen did an entire Storify on the Giants using trash talk in the week leading up to the game.

Allen could have linked to some instances of trash talk, but instead used Storify to include as many as 12 tweets and a few newspaper stories to tell his own story. That’s an instance of Storify changing and adapting over a few days to demonstrate what the user wants to show. I also liked other Super Bowl Storify, including this one on food trucks in Indianapolis and this one on Media Day.

The biggest problem I see with Storify is verifying content. When sitting at a computer or staring at a smart phone or tablet you can’t verify every piece of information. So when a Facebook update comes through or a photo is posted to Twitter it comes with a caveat. People can post whatever they want on social media sites and it’s up to the journalist to separate fact from fiction. That can be a daunting process, especially when things happen fast and you want news out quickly.

Overall I see Storify as a great tool for journalists, but one that comes with a great deal of responsibility.

Photo (cc) by Xavier Damman and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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