New curation tools have been popping up all over the Internet in the past six months and with them has come the traditional introspective from the media industry about what it means for journalism.
Realistically journalists and editors have always been curators, collecting information, photos, quotes and rumors and packaging it up for the reader. The difference now is the range and type of information and content (including tweets, videos, graphs) is so much larger.
More to sift and sort, more to verify and source, more to read and understand. Tools such as Storify, Bundlr, Storyful, Scoop.it, curated.by, and pearltrees allow us to collect links, various instances of social media, photos and videos.
Storify has recently come out of private beta and been received quite well by journalists (its intended audience). Yet Bundlr – which takes a different ‘gridded’ approach in comparison to Storify’s ‘timeline’ display – was not originally intended for use by journalists. Despite this it has been recognised as having huge potential for packaging stories online.
One of the strongest aspects of these new curation tools is the automatic recognition of the content creator. In the past quotes, information and photos have been stolen and re-attributed / passed off as original content, but with these new tools all content is recognised and linked. Features like this create a better news ethic – forcing sources to be acknowledged which means that stories can be checked and verified by other journalists.
I think the emergence of these new tools is the beginning of what will be a major shift in the way we provide a narrative to news events and tell stories online. Thinking about how we can package up a collection of sources to tell a fuller, rounder story will become second nature.
Greater transparency: Knowledge about where information and content comes from will mean that readers can make better judgements about the quality of the news they are consuming. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. There has been so much talk about objectivity and vested interests when it comes to journalism that the clearer we can be about how we put a story together, the better.
Wide reaching context: I want my preferred news source to point me in the direction of all the content they don’t have, I will trust them and respect them all the more for it. By being recognised as a leader in curation as well as breaking news media companies will continue to build a loyal user base. If a news organisation can combine original, high quality journalism with being a reliable starting point for related discussion on the web – they will be unbeatable.
To start with, lots of the content we will curate comes from our communities – tweets, photos and videos, blog posts and audioboos. Of course there will be other competing sources of news (we should include these to) but the colour and depth you can add to a story is increased ten fold when you invite the right members of your community to participate.
When you start drawing in contributions you get more of the story (now of course you need some sort of quality filter and you can’t loose your nose for news – don’t single source for instance) and after the first or second time of inviting participation your community will start coming to you with tip offs and contacts.
These new tools also mean stories can be updated on the fly, old and less relevant information can be dropped out or relegated in importance. So stories stay up to date, well sourced and there is constantly new information for your audience.
The final killer community feature is how sharing is baked in, your story package can embedded back on your site and contributors notified via twitter and facebook. A fantastic means of engagement and management.
The most exciting part is this is just the beginning – these tools are in beta, we are right on the cusp of new forms of online story telling. Community participation has come a long way from a letter to the editor or a text to the guy you fancied on the circle line.
I have put together two examples of live news discussion around Osama bin Laden’s death – one on Bundlr and one on Storify* (same content) to roughly demonstrate the different ways in which they allow you to put stories together and display content.
How big a role do you think curation has to play?
(*I am not embedding Storify because as yet, you cannot embed Bundlr and I wanted to treat the examples equally)