The Herald News in Fall River, Mass. produced this Storify gathering social media posts from their area on 9-11.
Last month, I showed editors in a webinar how to use Storify, a website that allows you to curate social media posts from sites such as Twitter and Facebook into a timeline that tells a story.
Editors in Massachusetts have really embraced the tool. Even before I gave the webinar, two editors contacted me for a quick tutorial because they had news happening now that lent itself to a Storify – a local judo Olympian winning gold and constant helicopter activity in the area freaking people out.
In both cases, the editors knew that Twitter was buzzing about the news and wanted to present it in an easy-to-read way. After a quick walk-through, they easily pulled together Tweets and Facebook posts into a timeline and embedded the Storify at the end of their coverage online.
There has been a bunch of Storifies since the webinar, too. In each case, the editors – either in the midst of the madness or after the dust had settled – realized there was a lot of activity on social media and that they could quickly pull it together into a Storify to supplement their own stuff.
For instance, Oprah Winfrey – THE Oprah Winfrey – visited Framingham, Mass. to back to school shopping with some girls from her academy that are attending Wellesley College (at least that’s what other students reported on Twitter). MetroWest Daily News found out about it because an editor’s mom happened to be at Bed, Bath & Beyond at the same time and called the newsroom. A photographer rushed out and got a photo of Oprah leaving the store. The reporter got there a little later and Oprah was gone. But people were all over Twitter talking about their encounter with her there (and later at Target!). The paper hadn’t found most of the witnesses itself at the store, but that’s OK because it was able to recover by posting the Tweets later. The Storify built by Digital Editor Bethany Edwards has since gotten 13,547 views, with almost 10,000 coming from the paper’s site, followed by strong traffic from the mobile site and then Storify itself.
Jon Root, digital editor at The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., took advantage of Storify to acknowledge news that was happening before his reporters were able to pull something together themselves for their website.
The morning of the anniversary of 9/11, Jon realized a lot of people were posting their thoughts, sending out prayers and sharing their memories about the tragedy. Using hashtags and a feature in Storify that let him limit the results in Twitter geographically, Jon found people in his area who were posting.
“In 10-15 minutes I found like 30 local tweets and FB posts about it, threw them into the storify, topped it with a ‘Fall River remembers 9-11’ hed and blammo, a local online 9-11 reaction story. It will act as a fantastic placeholder until our staff stories are in, and at that point it will become a nice little sidebar or relation or embedment,” Jon wrote in an email to me that suggested other editors could easily replicate the Storify for their area.
Which they did. The Patriot Ledger and MetroWest Daily News quickly followed suit.
“This one was cool because Framingham posted a YouTube video from last year's event, so I could include that and lead right into teasing a tweet from our reporter about their ceremony later that day. It took about 20 minutes or so,” said Edwards, from MetroWest Daily.
The Patriot Ledger has used Storify for a while. Last year, it posted a storify about the tsunami in Japan and the subsequent nuclear concerns. In this case, the focus was less on finding local people and more on getting news out to folks about an international crisis. There were a million photos, videos and comments. The Ledger sorted through many of them and pulled out the best so its readers didn’t have to sort through it themselves.
Play around with Storify off deadline, when you have time to figure things out without the pressure of actually producing something. Then make it part of your workflow. Get the news on your site, then circle back and build a Storify to embed with it. In most cases, it takes 15 minutes.
Go to this link to check out the PowerPoint presentation on how to get started and print out step-by-step instructions.
MetroWest Daily News
MetroWest Daily News built a Storify out of social media posts that happened when Oprah Winfrey visited Framingham, Mass. to go back-to-school shopping with girls attending college in the area.