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Exploring the Role of Curation and Curators in the Newsroom

What do you think when you hear the term “curation”? Do you roll your eyes at the “future of news” talking head types likely posing the word to you (like right now)? Or does your mind reel with the possibilities?

Source: Page One CuratorUnder the strictest definition of the term, curation is what journalists have been doing since before Gutenberg. We’ve always been responsible for collecting bits of information and reassembling it in a way that makes sense to our readers, but now we have so many more tools to use and streams to incorporate. It’s hardly a new idea, just a new way going about doing it.

Curation is a huge part of Digital First Media‘s plans. I/We see it as a way to give our readers a well-wounded view of a story or topic, while also freeing up our local staffs to do the original reporting they do best. It is with this in mind that I, along with my esteemed boss, Steve Buttry, will soon be hiring a national curation team comprised of a team leader and two curation editors.

While I do have something of a loose job description put together for these positions, the people who we’ll be hiring here will be trailblazers. Like a lot of us who are taking on experimental new roles, they’ll be determining (and always re-evaluating) what tools, practices and stories will work best for them and the company, rather than following directions from the top.

If you dare to wonder what a curation editor might do — we’d like to hear from you. Even if you aren’t necessarily interested in one of these jobs, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how curation and curators might best help you and/or your newsroom best serve readers.

Some ideas we’ll be exploring:

  • How should we provide curation around big national stories, where primary coverage will be handled either by our staffs or by our content partners?
  • How should be capitalize on local stories that might have national appeal?
  • How should we curate the social conversation around the day’s big “talker” stories in a way that would interest even those who aren’t on social media?
  • How should we help local newsrooms in their curation efforts without just taking it over?
  • What curation tools should we use? Which do YOU use?
  • What kind of content should we curate? Is there anything we should avoid?
  • How should we evaluate, verify and attribute content we curate?

You can join in the conversation in the comments below, on Steve’s related blog post, on Twitter (#DFMcuration) or, if you prefer to keep your ideas and interest confidential, feel free to use this private form.

A few details that may be helpful (this and more from Steve):

The curation team will be part of Project Thunderdome, which will handle national content for the websites of 75 daily newspapers of Digital First Media (scattered across 18 states), as well as some niche content that may be used by the sites of our weekly papers.

I look forward to seeing where this conversation takes us.


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  1. Curate everything. Everywhere. All the time. 

  2. vcareyjrc

    You’re right. We’ve been curating info for as long as there has been information. Now, though, it’s fun to find different perspectives from around the country and political spectrum. One fun thing I have been doing is check how our big national stories are being played in the UK.

  3. Mterenzio

    One thing that comes to mind is that curation is as much about defining communities by interest as it is about gathering and grouping those topics. For example, if you took a twitter list of all the users that follow the NHRegister Twitter account and aggregate all the links they tweet out. Well that’s neat but what might be more interesting is saying User1 and User57 both tweeted these ten links. Maybe User1 is interested in these other links that User57 tweeted but User1 didn’t. Doing this type of thing over a large community can help a curator mine things of interest on a personalized level. Which is why I thought yesterday that if one of the team could work with data and APIs you might get some value out of that as well.

    • That’s an interesting thought. Mining the data behind shares, linking, retweets could be extremely useful for local properties – though I’d need someone a lot smarter than me to figure out how to do that and present that data in a way that explains why it matters. 

  4. As promised! My thoughts! Let’s think a bit about how to better distinguish curation from aggregation. http://adamschweigert.com/towards-a-better-definition-of-curation-in-journalism/

  5. designerGNA

    Bah. I did not post my blogged response here, too. LAME SAUCE! (In my defense, I was super tired and up waaaaaay past my bedtime.)

    Anywho, here’s my take, in case you didn’t see in over on Mr. Buttry’s blog: http://beyondtetris.com/2012/06/14/what-should-a-curation-team-do-a-response/Loving the convo happening on this topic… Looking forward to more.Cheers. -Gina

  6. Jerry Monti

    Of course curate sources. Also curate groups engaged in a topic/issue. Provide the informed reader wit (several) paths to action.

  7. Here’s my vision – someday curators will enable others to “commit acts of journalism”: http://www.danifankhauser.com/2012/07/11/we-need-a-news-curation-team-today-because-heres-what-will-happen-in-five-years/

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