… but Josh Stearns from Free Press beat me to it.
Numbers like these are frustrating and bad for democracy. A press corps that’s diverse in terms of race, gender and socioeconomic background is crucial for the kind of dignified but dogged journalism Thomas exemplified for so many years. Different backgrounds means different — and, hopefully, difficult — questions about topics those in power would rather ignore.
One of the better pieces about Thomas that I’ve read so far today is this obituary from the Washington Post. Among other great details, it includes this quote:
“I respect the office of the presidency,” (Thomas) told Ann McFeatters for a 2006 profile in Ms. magazine, “but I never worship at the shrines of our public servants. They owe us the truth.”
And that truth must reflect the realities of all segments of the population.
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 And an unpublished story can serve as a sort of social media notebook because Storify archives tweets even after they’ve been deleted from Twitter.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.