At first glance, it looks like this site hasn’t been updated in awhile. For those few people who subscribe via social or RSS (hi Mom!), you probably forgot this even exists.
Though not a lot has changed on the surface level – this still has my terrible original web design for the most part – there have been some changes you might find interesting. A big part of the original intent of Zombie Journalism was curating and sharing interesting links on digital journalism, social media and the future of the news industry. This was before a great deal of the curation tools out there today were in existence – and back when I had the time and the interest in giving my view on journalism happenings that had already been talked over to death. Nowadays, I have less I want to write about, but I still want to share interesting links.
If you like the sort of information I tend to curate, I hope you’ll read it here, but it isn’t like I’m monetizing this site, so feel free to subscribe to them via Rebelmouse (using the button on the page) or, if Twitter’s your thing, you can get all of those subsets and more at @NewsonNewsYouCanUse (or via my account, as always).
If you have suggestions or feedback on all this, let me know.
Also, I have a couple of actual new posts (!) in the works, so this blog as it is now isn’t going away. Maybe we should consider it more of a quarterly?
Julie Westfall will be joining Digital First as the curation team leader. Angela Carter and Karen Workman, two of DFM’s local superstars, will be moving to new roles as curators.
I was familiar with all three of these remarkable journalists before I ever began hiring for these positions. They were selected because they each had a vision for what could be done – and none of them are the type to be scared off by such a vague concept as “go be a curation team”.
Steve Buttry and I interviewed A LOT of really amazing applicants. We heard a lot of really innovative and interesting ideas on curation tools and strategy from journalists and non-journalists both inside and outside Digital First. You guys didn’t make our choices easy, but I’m confident we’ve got a killer team here.
I am excited to get back to working with Julie Westfall, who was, in my opinion, the engine that drove TBD’s daily news coverage. Sitting across from her for most of our short time there, I was constantly amazed at how she just never seemed to stop. Julie had a vision for how our news could be better and faster and she worked tirelessly to see that vision come to life. She was always tinkering with the tools we had or brainstorming the tools she wanted to see if there could be a better way to tell our stories.
But it wasn’t our work history that got Julie into this job, but rather it was her continuing ideas for how online news could be made better. Julie still has a vision for how we can develop new and better ways to tell stories online. We need someone with that vision to help our team craft dynamic, interesting and useful news resources for our local sites. It helps that Julie’s pretty familiar with forging her own path in this crazy digital journalism world – she held experimental roles at TBD and KPCC – because we need her to shape this team from an idea into a key part of Digital First’s news strategy.
Angi had been a city-side and business reporter for years before taking on the role of community engagement in her newsroom. When you meet her, it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been in that role for years. She’s a natural.
Not surprisingly, Angi also went the extra mile with her ideaLab project. Originally it was thought that ideaLab activities would take up a designated amount of hours each week but Angi made it the focus of her everyday work. She also contributed the equipment she receives as an ideaLab participant to the Register’s overall engagement efforts like conducting a Community Needs Assessment, holding public online news meetings and growing the Register’s community blog network.
When this curation team is in full swing, we’re going to need Angi’s organizational skills to guide us on breaking news and long-term projects. She has a habit of planning the details far out in advance of planned news events. Take New Haven’s coverage of the Supreme Court’s health care decision: When the decision came down, the site had a live chat with experts on the case all ready to go.
I don’t know Karen Workman well yet, but I know a great deal about her work. She started her career as an editorial assistant at the Oakland Press, where went on to become a reporter and, later, community engagement editor. When she took interest in this position, Karen wrote a report full of ideas for how the DFM curation team could best benefit our local newsrooms. She’d know, as she’s already sort of been doing it.
Working the early morning shift at the Press, Karen noticed that DFM’s Michigan newsrooms were all curating stories and videos from the same sites each day. She took the initiative to change the system to be more efficient. This past spring, she started a curation team for the Michigan newspapers to better utilize the time of the newsrooms’ small staffs.
As an early adopter of new tools in her newsroom, Karen’s also proven herself to be a natural teacher. What started as helping her colleagues learn SEO, social media and digital tools has turned into a much larger effort to educate journalists at other DFM papers. Karen’s patience and talent for explanation is really going to come in handy as a DFM curator, as we’ll be helping all of our local newsrooms with their own curation efforts.
Karen was also part of the first class of ideaLab participants. She’s using her project to build a sense of community amongst members of the Oakland Press’ blogger network. Aside from bringing a disparate group of bloggers together in person and online, Karen’s also setting up workshops they want and need to bolster their own skill sets.
I’m pretty sure Karen and I are going to get along just fine, as she’s a fellow animal lover (even if she prefers dogs). She writes The Dog Blog, a care and training blog for dog owners – and she’s also got a really cute Lab/pit bull mix with a great name (Sensibull).
This curation team will be getting to work the last week of this month….just in time to start experimenting with curation around the Olympic Games. These three women will have a lot of logistics to figure out, tools to break and workflows to hammer out – but I have full confidence they are more than up to the challenge. I can hardly wait to get started.
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?
Under 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?
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.
Hi all! I’ve been traveling a lot for Digital First lately to spread the gospel of social media to my colleagues. So, if you’ve seen my presentations before, you’d know that I make very wordy Powerpoints so that people who weren’t there to see me prattle on about my favorite things can still follow what we went over (also, they keep me on task in-session).
So here are some recent training sessions that might be of use to you, your staff (or students, if you teach). Please let me know if there’s anything out of date or if you know of new tools I should be touting around DFM and on the interwebs at large.
Please allow me to think aloud on the past 15 hours.
We all acknowledge that the news of Osama bin Laden’s death broke on social media. We’ve all got stories about Twitter’s impact, roundups of Twitter reactions, tweet timelines and Storification galore – but did anyone in the heat of the developing news last night start engaging readers on the spot? (This is not a rhetorical question, I actually want to know.)
I’m seeing a lot of the same curation sets of the same tweets or calls out for “tell us where you were or how you found out” second-day stories. These seem to be late reactions or pallid imitations of the wonderful, shared experience many Americans had in real-time on social media channels last night. What could we do better?
The story – and most initial reactions to it – were played out in the Twitter timeline before any major news outlets even confirmed the rumor. At this point, I’d speculate a lot of the on-the-spot reaction had passed. At that time, reporters and editors were busy working sources, heading to in-person meeting places and writing headlines (as they should be), but how many jumped into the social media fray in real time?
Who led or hosted a conversation about the night’s events on Twitter, Facebook, on-site comments or live chats? (As opposed to curating what was already occurring out there.)
If you didn’t – why not? Was there not enough staff to juggle hosting a full-time talk? Did nobody think to do it in time to get initial reactions? Was technology an issue? Was your audience not as plugged in to the social sphere?
This story – and the outpouring of reaction and conversation amongst strangers on social media – could serve as a lesson to newsrooms on how to develop a breaking news workflow that includes an element of community engagement when (or even before) the news breaks. We all saw it happen, we reacted and engaged as we best know how – now, what could we have done better?
Tumblrs are showing up all over the news these days. From Politico to Pro Publica, The New Yorker and Newsweek – it’s become a popular platform for collecting links, images, quotes – pretty much whatever journalists find interesting that they can’t get into their regular stories and posts.
In experimenting with Tumblr for various possible future TBD projects, I’ve been astounded at how easy it is to kick off a theme blog. Aside from the 30 seconds or so it takes to set one up, if you have an idea in mind, you can populate it really quickly. Case in point: My coworker Jeff Sonderman said on Twitter Tuesday morning that he wished there were a Tumblr for holiday clichés. Within minutes, I had one set up and populated. It is now owning my life.
Tumblr says it is adding 25,000 new accounts daily, and each month it serves up 1.5 billion page views. Beyond the on-site following, Tumblr is effective for sharing short bursts of content across the web via social media.
Mark Coatney, who got Newsweek onto Tumblr (and now is employed by Tumblr), calls it “a space in between Twitter and Facebook.”
“People are creating identities and personalities that Facebook and Twitter are not designed to allow you to do,” he said.
And he’s right – you can be more conversational, collect and curate information like you would on Twitter, but the “fan” and following relationship is similar to that of Facebook.
So you want to get into Tumblr
There’s a lot of advice out there on Tumblr for news organizations, so I won’t repeat it.
Cory Bergman writes at Lost Remote that media might want to get into the space, but should be aware of the work involved in upkeep. “If you’re not going to keep it updated (or you’re going to abandon more critical efforts, like Facebook) — then perhaps just reserving a Tumblr name and letting it sit until you can give it the attention it deserves may be the more prudent approach.”
There are similar curation tools out there, like KeepStream and Curated.by, though they focus primarily on collecting tweets (Correction: KeepStream also allows for Facebook integration). Storify, on the other hand, allows a user to organize various media (text, documents, video, images) and social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) into an orderly, linear presentation. The story pieces retain all of their original links and functionality – and the full presentations are embeddable on any site. It has a very easy-to-use search for social media keywords and works using a drag-and-drop functionality. In other words – it’s easy multimedia for even the most technologically challenged journalist.
It has a couple of downfalls, the biggest of which, to me, is the lack of hard timestamps on content from Twitter (though that’s largely Twitter’s fault).
In the weeks since the Nieman Lab actually used Storify to explain Storify, many journalists and bloggers have taken the opportunity to experiment with the tool – with incredibly varied results. Here’s a few interpretations of just how Storify has been and can be used in journalism.
1. Organizing reaction in social media. The Washington Post gathered reaction from Twitter and Facebook to the resignation of Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee last week. While there are a lot of tools once could use to do this (Quote URL, Twitter search, Cover it Live), the Storify approach looks very clean and was likely very fast to put together. It’s a great tool for on-the-fly curation from various social media sources.
2. Giving back-story using past content. PBS NewsHour had a different take on Rhee’s resignation. Going beyond the basic topic archive page, their piece created a summary of Rhee’s past challenges with DCPS, weaving in stories, videos and scripts from their archives with some curated social media reactions. It is similar to a traditional story in its scope, giving the full background on Rhee’s tenure with reaction quotes via social media.
3. Curating topical content. NYU Studio 20’s East Village used Storify and a very sharp web presentation to create SocialDiningNYC, a site that has collect and curated information on NYC restaurants. Each venue has it’s own Storify line collecting reviews, reactions, media and info – and each file is linked from a primary hub site. The key to making this look nice was the consistency with which each Storify file was built and worded.
4. Displaying a non-linear social media discussion or chat. Penn Professor and Wired blogger Tim Carmody used Storify to illustrate an amusing Twitter quest he took on to get a few key social media contacts to follow him. He pulled together the entire back-and-forth between him, the people he was trying to engage and his current followers. It looks a lot better than TweetSpat (and involves more characters) and it makes the conversation seem more linear than it likely did in real time. This is a fun idea – and it could be great for archiving Twitter chats into some modicum of sense.
5. Creating a multimedia/social media narrative. Last Friday, I used Storify at TBD to make sense of an ever-changing series of events involving a death outside popular Washington D.C. nightclub DC9. In the course of one day, the story took a lot of twists and turns, illustrated in the narrative by tweets (from both news orgs and those reacting), photos, video and documents. Reading down the story, you can get a feel for how the events developed and evolved in a way that’s not entirely dissimilar to more traditional narrative stories. I talked a little bit more about the story behind this piece to the Nieman Storyboard, if you want to know more.
6. Organize your live tweets into a story: Michael Margolis of GetStoriedused Storify to tell the story of his time spent at the National Storytelling Festival. He weaves in quotes and experiences from the scene as tweets from throughout the day. I could see this as being very useful for reporters who live tweet press conferences, government meetings and events. Using this method, those reporters could focus on Twitter in real-time, then build a story from those tweets (and others’) when the event is over.
7. Collaborate on a topic with readers. Seamus Condron of ReadWriteWeb tested out Storify with RWW’s Twitter followers. He posed the question “My day would be a lot easier if Twitter…”. The story builds out from there with responses to the prompt from followers, @RWW replies and contextual info from other media in response to reader contributions.
These are likely just the beginning of what’s been done or could be done using Storify. I have dreamed up a few more ideas if you’d like to think about using this tool on your site.
8. Create a timeline of events. I know from experience that it can be a big pain to build an attractive online timeline without the aid of a designer. I think Storify’s interface would be a quick way to pull in text and other content into a timeline format that could look nice without any fancy HTML.
9. Display audience content from across platforms. Say you’re asking your readers to give you photos, videos and reactions based around an event or topic. You put out this call on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and on your site. Instead of gathering all of this content and re-publishing it on-site, you can organize all of those updates, comments, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Twitpics and emailed-in multimedia into one Storify file without any CMS nonsense.
10. Live curate live tweets from the stream. If you have multiple reporters or sources live-tweeting a news event, pull them together quickly and in an order that makes sense in Storify. Sure, you could pull all of their tweets or use a hashtag using other means, but this way you could choose to select only some tweets – and it wouldn’t matter who used a hashtag or not, as you can search for tweets via keyword.