December 20, 2013

So what does a giant media corporation like News Corp get from a boutique social-media news agency like Storyful, which it bought Friday? Reached by phone, News Corp Senior VP of Strategy Raju Narisetti said that Storyful’s ability to verify news spreading over the social Web was only part of the draw.

“Storyful is not just a pioneer in verifying news video,” he said, but it’s very good at spotting and obtaining rights to news videos. “That gives us an opportunity to take viral video and not only use it in our global newsrooms but offer it to third parties as well,” a prospect Narisetti said has “significant revenue potential.”

Storyful, in turn, gets access to News Corp’s proprietary technologies, plus “reach and scale and the ability to find new customers.” Some of those customers may be News Corp properties, Narisetti said. The Wall Street Journal is the only News Corp-owned newsroom using Storyful at the moment. (If any media properties owned by News Corp’s corporate sibling 21st Century Fox want to buy services from Storyful, Narisetti said, they’ll be happy to sell to them.)

Reached by phone, Storyful CEO Mark Little said Storyful made its first profit last month, but said it was looking for a partner who could “turn what is still a fairly evangelical vision into a global force.” News Corp, he said, “has the mentality of a startup in a big organization.”

Storyful already has among its clients news organizations that compete with News Corp properties. “That’s the reason why it’s got to be a standalone company,” Narisetti said. The resources of News Corp mean the company’s current clients “will get a better service,” Little said. “We’ve reached out to our clients and partners, some of them ahead of the deal, and so far the response has been very positive.”

Reached by email, Jennifer Preston, The New York Times’ first social media editor, confirmed her organization was one of Storyful’s first clients. She is “not sure what it means for us,” she writes. “That said, I am thrilled for David, Mark and his fabulous team.” She continues:

Increasingly, news organizations are finding the value in surfacing quality user generated content for both reporting and multi-media online storytelling. And, the folks at Storyful, always understood that also meant applying good old-fashioned reporting skills, verification and ethic along the way.

Little will divide his time between Dublin and New York, but the company will remain based in Ireland. “We want to be in every newsroom in the world,” he said, “and offer them a solution that can scale. And that’s the word we want to emphasize today, is scale.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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