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Storify adds a way to collaborate on breaking news

Storify now has a way for journalists to collaborate on breaking news, Livefyre announced Tuesday. Storify Enterprise, which was previously Storify VIP, lets several people “simultaneously add text or content in real-time, see who else is working on the story at any moment and access the editing history to clearly identify what changes were made by whom,” according to a post on Livefyre by Samantha Hauser.

“Covering stories has always been a collaborative process, and that’s even more true when you’re sifting through huge volumes of social media for a breaking story or brand campaign. While part of the team seeks out great photos and quotes, others craft the story and give context,” explained Burt Herman, co-founder of Storify and vice president of editorial at Livefyre. “Storify Enterprise delivers on what our users have long wanted: true collaboration that enables everyone to easily tell stories together.”

Storify Enterprise is for larger customers and the cost varies per customer, Lynne Cox, vice president with Livefyre Communications, said in an email. According to Hauser’s piece, news sites partnering with Storify Enterprise for the launch “include The Wall Street Journal, Mashable and The Globe and Mail.” The free version of Storify also has a few new updates, including autosave and anchored links.

In 2013, my colleague Andrew Beaujon wrote about Livefyre’s purchase of Storify. Last November, my colleague Sam Kirkland wrote about Twitter’s custom timelines and liveblogging platforms, including ScribbleLive.

Here’s a recent Storify from the Boston Globe, live-blogging a trial:


Twitter’s custom timelines won’t kill Storify but could become robust filters

Twitter announced Tuesday a “custom timelines” feature that seems to mimic many of Storify’s functions. But is it a Storify killer?

All Tweetdeck users will soon be able to drop individual tweets into a “custom timelines” column with a name and short description. Then, those curated timelines are publicly accessible and can be embedded and shared. Read more

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Storify sold to Livefyre

Livefyre has bought Storify, whose online tool makes it easy to tell stories using tweets and other media, the companies announced Monday.

Storify’s free product will continue, the release says. Its paid products, currently offered by tiers, will be merged into one offering.

Storify cofounders Xavier Damman and Burt Herman will move to Livefyre along with their product, as will Storify’s employees. Read more


Storify launches redesign that elevates popular social media elements

The newly redesigned Storify, which launches today, makes it easier for people to search for relevant content. Now, instead of featuring popular Storifies,’s home page features specific social media elements — photos, tweets, videos and articles — that have the most resonance, says co-founder Burt Herman.

The redesign will make it easier for journalists to see the most popular curated content within Storify and re-Storify, share, like and comment on it. Herman said the redesign advances Storify’s goal of helping people cut through the noise on social media and find elements they can use to tell a meaningful story.

Storify, he said, is using a new algorithm to determine which elements have the most resonance.

“We really wanted to find ways to use the data to find the best of what people are putting in their Storifies,” Herman said by phone. “If all these people are using the same amazing photo, why should every person have to go and track it again? The goal is to really find out which things on social media have a greater life — things that are really lasting, things people want to quote and share.” Read more

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How social media helped tell the story of the Democratic National Convention

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other sites have generally been treated as tools to produce or distribute a traditional story.

But increasingly, journalists are starting to see greater potential in social media sites.

While covering last week’s Democratic National Convention as part of The Charlotte Observer’s social media team, I was reminded of how social media can also be a storytelling tool and, in some cases, the story itself.

Storytelling with social media

One of the ways I used social media as a storytelling tool during the convention was to compile tweets that told a linear story. You can do this by using Storify or by embedding tweets in the HTML of an article page.

Tweets are great for illustrating how an event unfolded. Half an hour before my shift ended Monday night, a colleague turned to me and asked, “Hey, did you see that tweet about a protest happening?” I hadn’t, but it didn’t take long to find it. Within a couple of minutes, I’d found a link to a Ustream account from which 23-year-old Nathan Grant (@Occupy Eye) was broadcasting the march.

By that time, several tweets had appeared relating to the late-night protest. There was a live video of protesters in black marching arm in arm. Something was happening.

We told the writers nearby. While they tried to reach sources over the phone, I compiled tweets in Storify and prepared a new post in Blogger. Within two to three minutes of the first tweets announcing the protesters had returned to their campsite, we published a blog post (with the Storify) highlighting tweets that showed how the protest unfolded.

The post wasn’t a replacement for the traditional story to follow; the story in the paper had confirmed details and included a police perspective. But my post told readers essentially what happened, and it was almost immediate.

You can also use tweets to capture reactions. Around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday night, I situated myself at a dimly lit table on the top floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena. As the delegates erupted with delight at Bill Clinton’s speech, I quietly dragged and dropped tweets into a Storify that showed viewers’ reactions to the former president’s words.

The result was an entertaining post that gave readers a sense of the kinds of reactions people were posting on Twitter. The post saved them from having to sort through hundreds of thousands of tweets themselves.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using social media to tell stories:

  • I’ve found that when compiling a how-it-unfolded Twitter story, it’s best to organize the tweets in chronological order.
  • When creating a Storify that captures people’s reactions, start by adding any tweets that stand out, then look for trends. Organizing a Storify like this can be as simple as “positive” and “negative,” but it’s more fun to include specific, even humorous, trends.
  • To add an interactive element, try embedding Twitter’s new interactive timeline. Set up the timeline to reflect the content of your story (like displaying any tweet with “#DNC2012,” “Bill Clinton” or “occupy protest”). Readers can see what else is being said and contribute to the conversation themselves.

  • Jen Rothacker, editor for innovative and new projects at the Observer, suggests getting more out of your Storify by embedding it at the end of the written story. The Charlotte Observer did this with its coverage of Tom Brokaw’s trip to the hospital.

  • Don’t limit yourself to Twitter. Embed YouTube videos or take a screenshot of a Facebook post. For photo-friendly topics, you could create a photostream like CNN’s Political Ticker did with Instagram and Twitpics.

Social media as the story

Social media has gone beyond a platform where people display their lives — it’s a space in which people live their lives. There are some friendships, conversations and events occur entirely online.

Covering social media as news is particularly important for publications targeting young to middle-aged adult audiences. The average Twitter user, according to Pingdom, is 37.3 years old. Nevertheless, social media statistics can reflect information that is relevant to the oldest of audiences.

During the DNC, I encountered two ways to cover social media as news. Last Tuesday evening, Anderson Cooper announced on Twitter that he’d arrived in Charlotte and wondered if anyone had recommendations about where to go.

More than 100 people — many of them Charlotteans — retweeted and responded with recommendations for their favorite local restaurants and sights. A few people even suggested he come to their home. Or marry them.

The conversation, as far as I know, didn’t lead to anything newsworthy outside of social media. Nevertheless, it was fun and interesting for Charlotte locals, so I created a blog post (again, with a Storify) outlining the conversation. The post ended up being one of the most popular posts on the @Charlotte blog, which the Charlotte Observer created for the DNC.

Another interesting use of this approach is Jarrett Bellini’s weekly CNN column, “Apparently This Matters,” in which he writes about whatever happens to be trending in social media at the time. It is both hilarious and indicative of the digital culture.

I also thought about how social media can “become the story” after seeing people’s reactions to the DNC speeches. When President Barack Obama set a Twitter political record with 52,756 tweets per minute (TPM) immediately following his acceptance speech, news outlets everywhere dug into TPM comparisons between the DNC and RNC.

According to Twitter:

  • Bill Clinton peaked at 22,087 TPM

  • Michelle Obama peaked at 28,003 TPM

  • Mitt Romney peaked at 14,289 TPM

The question, of course, is whether those numbers mean anything.

Regardless, that information is everywhere — from major TV networks to local newspapers — and I wouldn’t be surprised if news outlets start paying more attention to social media statistics surrounding other major events.

Melissa Abbey is a senior at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Melissa interned with The Charlotte Observer’s social media team for one week to cover the Democratic National Convention, which was held in Charlotte, NC. Read more

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Journalist had temporary access to Romney campaign’s Storify account

Oh Boy! Montco
Like any good community engagement editor, The (Lansdale, Pa.,) Reporter’s Andy Stettler spent his Saturday afternoon signing in to Storify to do some storifying. But after logging in via his Twitter account, Stettler discovered “to my shock I was inside the Storify account of the GOP presidential candidate’s campaign.” He backed out without changing anything, but documented the case using screenshots and (of course) Storify. Storify Co-founder Burt Herman tells me the company jumped right on the problem:

The technical reason behind this was due to an error with caching user tokens on our site, and we have deployed a fix that will resolve the problem. We are also redoing at a deeper level how user authentication works on Storify to ensure we have stronger security. At no time were any user passwords exposed. We take this very seriously and our users should know that their work is secure.

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Storify introduces new feature to make individual story elements more sharable

Storify | Lost Remote
Storify has introduced a new feature that enables users to share individual social media posts within a story. Users, for instance, can now share a tweet on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ or via email right from the Storify that the post is embedded in.

Co-founder Burt Herman, who announced the feature at the Mashable Connect conference Friday, said it gives users more opportunities to share Storify content across multiple platforms. Read more


Storify iPad app should draw more users and live coverage

StorifyiTunes Store | The Next Web
Storify’s brand-new iPad app unveiled this morning should extend the curation tool to new, more-casual users and increase the live-blogging of conferences and events.

The new Storify iPad app enables easy, intuitive story building.

In general, the app offers the same service the Web version of Storify does. But its touch-based interface is more intuitive for drag-and-drop story building. And the availability on a portable device now means more people can Storify an event live. There’s also a new feature to tweet from within the app, so you can quickly post your own updates while curating others’. Read more

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Storify was created through classic innovation process

The Washington Post
Burt Herman tells the Post’s Innovations blog that Storify, which has become a popular way to assemble bits of social media into a story, was created through a classic process of innovating through iteration and user feedback.

“We had an earlier product that we were working on, which was was all about Twitter and making it look more readable for normal people, and that ended up not being as engaging. We actually did an experiment with a thing that let you embed a single tweet into a post, and that seemed to really have a lot of interest …  So we went in that direction … It’s not at all that we sat down at first and figured out what this was going to look like from scratch.”

In another video Herman says that social media is great material for a story, but isn’t a story in itself. || Related: Storify is starting to look like a news site (ReadWriteWeb) | The 5 types of stories that make good Storifys (Poynter) | Burt Herman shares lessons from launching Storify (Poynter)

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Three trends from 2011 that will reshape digital news in 2012

If you’re like me, by now you’ve read more than enough uninspired recaps of what happened in 2011 or wild guesses at what’s in store for 2012. So here’s something a little different.

I looked back at the world of digital journalism to find just a few trends and ideas that started small in 2011 and will grow larger in 2012. Here’s what I found.

1. A story is more than one writer’s words

This year will be the last when the word “story” referred almost exclusively to a single stream of words written by a single author.

Storify started testing in 2010, but the revolutionary storytelling tool launched publicly in April 2011 and won this year’s grand prize in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

Storify shifts several paradigms — the audience/public as contributors, not just consumers, of news gathering; the journalist as a listener and curator, not just a broadcaster; and the news story told by the people through a journalist, instead of to the people from a journalist.

Another budding storytelling trend got much less attention than Storify in 2011: context layers. Digital news publishers experimented with way to give readers extra background information on top of the basic narrative news story.

The “explore sources” context layer in this ProPublica story shows the evidence supporting specific phrases in the report.

ProPublica used DocumentCloud to integrate primary source information in an “explore sources” layer. When a reader turns it on, she can click on highlighted passages in the story to see a popup annotation from supporting documents.

ESPN’s new Grantland site for long-form sports journalism also added context. It uses term-paper-inspired footnotes to annotate its stories, though notes appear next to the story instead of beneath it. It’s a brilliant way to pack in an extra historical anecdote, statistical curiosity, caveat or explanation without disrupting the main narrative.

Expect to see more experimentation with story formats and context layers in 2012 and beyond, as more people realize digital news is no longer bound by the constraints of two-dimensional paper.

2. Facebook is for news

Facebook has been huge for a while, but in 2011 it took several major steps to make the platform more valuable to journalists and publishers.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof has over 298,000 Facebook subscribers and regularly gets hundreds of likes and comments on his posts.

Facebook Subscribe enabled journalists to build large personal audiences. It helped Facebook attract journalists by offering a system of asymmetrical following, like Twitter, instead of just mutual friending. But the news feed gives posts a longer shelf life than a tweet, and Facebook reaches more than 800 million members while Twitter reaches only about 100 million.

Another trend Facebook in late 2011 is the “frictionless sharing” of activity. The Washington Post, Yahoo News and The Guardian are among the major players reaching millions of readers through this new system of automatically shared reading activity. The Post is especially bullish on the role social networks will play in the future of its news.

We also saw many news organizations in 2011 embrace Facebook Comments on their websites to verify identities and try to improve discourse.

Yes, Google+ did launch this year and Twitter is still growing fast and remains the darling of the news media, but Facebook cemented itself in 2011 as THE leading social network for people and for news.

3. Tablets and e-readers go mainstream

Apple set the high-end standard for tablet computing with the iPad, and again in 2011 with the iPad 2. Its design and app ecosystem are unmatched by competitors. But one of the most important features of any gadget is its price, and in late 2011 we saw new tablets and e-readers break important price barriers.

This chart by Silicon Alley Insider shows the declining price of Amazon Kindles, from $400 in 2007 to $79 today. Perhaps a free version is in our future.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble launched color touchscreen tablets for $199 and $249 respectively, less than half the price of a $499 entry-level iPad. Those companies also released basic e-readers under $100 — Amazon’s Kindle is $79. At this rate, I would not be surprised to see a free version of the Kindle by the next holiday season.

Plus, the iPad 3 will be coming sometime in 2012, which means a price cut for the iPad 2. And the Google tablet promised in the next six months may have an impact as well.

At these prices, millions more Americans will be able to join the tablet and e-reading club, accelerating its impact on the news industry. Through 2012 this will create a stronger market for iPad apps and e-books from news publishers. While few tablet owners are paying for content right now, advertising dollars should start flowing heavily into mobile and tablet channels in 2012 and especially 2013 to help support these innovations. Read more


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