Rethinking Storify

A few years ago, I received an invitation to beta test Storify. I still don’t know why I was chosen, but it probably had something to do with my job as web editor at a paper known for covering New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. It wasn’t long before Storify projects became mainstays on our political blog.

Storify makes it easy to capture a cross section of community sentiment or cover a major event in real time. (It’s also fantastic for reporting bits of social media culture, like the birth of the New Hampshire primary’s hashtag.)

One of the coolest parts of experimenting with a new tool is seeing how other journalists use it to tell the stories that are important to them. I never thought of maintaing a Storify that grows over the course of many months, but that’s exactly what Josh Stearns has been doing since the fall of 2011. Stearns, a media reform advocate with Free Press, has used Storify to track the arrests of journalists covering Occupy protests. (See how the story’s introduction fosters conversation by including ways to pass along tips? Brilliant!)

Last week, Stearns spoke via Google Hangout to one of my classes at Northeastern University. He had some other ideas for using Storify that go beyond basic curation: The slideshow tool, he said, is good for photo galleries. And an unpublished story can serve as a sort of social media notebook because Storify archives tweets even after they’ve been deleted from Twitter.

Stearns also talked about taking a “slow-news approach” to social media journalism. That means carefully selecting the best story elements and using verification techniques to make sure the information is accurate.

Questions of identity

Women’s studies was one of the best classes I took as an undergraduate, so it was a treat to spend my lunch hour listening to a presentation about LGBTQ identities among students at Mount Holyoke College.

Interesting, sure, but what does it have to do with the topic of this blog? A lot, actually. Journalism is, at its most basic, a snapshot of who we are now — or, as Jack Fuller calls it, a “provisional truth.”

It matters who is framing those snapshots and reporting that truth. Not every headline comes down to gender or sexuality or race, but those things do influence the way journalists see the world. That’s why so much time and effort is devoted to tracking newsroom demographics — and why it’s important that all kinds of people have a hand in hardwiring the future of news.

During the lecture, I tapped out some tweets. Here they are:

More resources from Twitter

Since leaving my staff job at the Concord Monitor last summer, I’ve struggled with how to reshape my use of Twitter. At the paper — where I helped maintain a couple of political blogs — it was easy: All presidential primary. All the time.

Launching this blog has forced me to reconsider who I follow and to organize my connections into lists — including this one focused on women and journalism. Some feeds, like @GenderReport and @womensmediacntr, deal directly with the topics addressed by this blog. Other accounts, like the one maintained by Ms. Magazine and this one from Bitch Media, deal with broader cultural questions of gender.

I’ve also included some smart, insightful writers like Soraya Chemaly who, according to her bio, says “feministy things about gender absurdities in media, religion, pop culture & politics. Out loud.” Other pithy tweets come from media critic Jennifer L. Pozner and author Jessica Valenti.

The most useful feed, though, belongs to the Journalism and Women Symposium. Many tweets are focused on the group’s activities, but there’s also a fair bit of pertinent industry information.