The Rise of Story Curation

With the constantly contorting world of social-media has arrived the newly enhanced ability to string together an influx of posts, tweets, pictures and snaps to tell a story. This modern curation method—optimized by tools like Storify and Twitter’s Curator—empowers journalists to experiment with a variety of voices to bring together a narrative from a multitude of perspectives. In a world where “story curation” once meant compiling quotes from the interviews you did via snail-mail in the 1700s, this is groundbreaking stuff.

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Image Courtesy: Flickr user aysedamirhas

Think you’ve got what it takes to try out your story curation chops? Awesome! But first, let’s review some basics:

  • Storify is an excellent tool for curating stories. Their interface is intuitive and simple, and all the content you create is embeddable. Check out this guide for some tips on telling the best, most journalistically-sound stories.
  • Utilize citizen reporters for real-time coverage, and be sure to verify their accounts before publishing.
  • Transitions are the key to filling in the gaps when creating a curated story. These need to be snappy and meaningful, and they must propel the story forward. Check this example out for a sense of how often to insert your own voice in the story.
  • Make sure you peg an original angle when you curate stories. Some examples: Bill Baker adds a unique layer to his long-form piece by tweeting out the story again as a critical update is in the works, making for a super-compelling read. It also worked well when curators opted to memorialize David Bowie’s death in creative and meaningful ways.

But is this new form of story-telling really journalism? Sure it is! Think about it: in the old days, we’d interview as many witnesses as we could at the scene of an event, and we’d pick out the most relevant and intriguing quotes to piece together a story. Now, the curation of social-media allows this process to occur even more quickly, and in an even more engaging fashion.

We can now watch the World Cup from a curated story on Snapchat, featuring the perspectives of fans, players, and casual observers. We can visually represent national debates by curating tweets from a variety of stakeholders. Even breaking news can be supplemented by an embedded Facebook Live video in a traditional online news report.

From the days of old-fashioned sit-down interviews to today’s method of handpicking social-media posts, curation has always been an integral part of journalism: we as journalists have always needed to select which voices we want to include in our reporting. This inherently leaves room for journalistic bias, but bias has always been a factor in storytelling. Ultimately, journalism is, in itself, an act of curation, and it always will be.

Feature Image Courtesy: Flickr user Jordan

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