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Using Storify: Challenges and opportunities for journalists covering crises

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The recent ‘Arab Spring’ protests have been widely discussed in the media as an example of a shift in the dissemination of news and information during a crisis. Apart from the youth-driven resistance played out on the streets, the ‘Arab Spring’ movement is also noteworthy for the millions of texts, images and videos that were transmitted through social media networks and indirectly disseminated on mainstream news networks. While social media has played an increasingly crucial role as a source of information for journalists during times of crisis, concerns have been raised about the veracity of information and the effort needed to extract the best content in real time. To overcome this problem, ex-journalist Burt Herman created the online platform Storify as a pioneering media content curation service. Media content curation knits technological and human skill in selecting, classifying, preserving, contextualizing and crafting traditional media sources and social media content into one coherent narrative. This article examines the changes to traditional modes of journalistic practice engendered by the use of Storify and other social media tools for reportage in times of crisis. The research utilizes a content analysis of Storify ‘stories’ written by media professionals about the ‘Arab Spring’ and seven interviews with media professionals who have used Storify to report during the ‘Arab Spring’. Journalists have responded positively to Storify because of the diversity of sources, accessibility, new story presentation possibilities and the ability to quickly search and select sources using a transparent process. However, our analysis found that some of the limitations of Storify are technical, specifically in terms of design and software.
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Keywords: Storify; content analysis; interviews; journalism practices; social media; ‘Arab Spring’

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Neuchâtel 2: Swinburne University

Publication date: 2014-03-01

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