How to effectively use Storify as a news reporting tool: An experiment in my digital journalism class

For effective use of Storify as a tool for news reporting or digital storytelling, some basic journalistic and web-writing guidelines should be employed.

Below is screenshot of a sample Storify news story I discussed with students in my digital journalism class. This story can use some improvements Рin its current form, it is basically a chronological compilation of tweets. Use your mouse to scroll down on the screenshot for a quick look of the story; if the screenshot is not displayed properly on your computer, view it in a separate page:

 
Using this story as an illustration, we discussed the following guidelines for effective Storify news reporting, drawing on what we learned in the news reporting class and the web writing class:

  1. the story should have a structure: similar to a regular print news article, a Storify news story should also have a structure; or at least, it should break down to several sections, with each section focusing on a specific sub-topic.
  2. the story should have depth/context: to write a print news article, a reporter needs to conduct research/interview to collect information and write those information into the article to help reader understand the subject. In a Storify story, there also needs to be some background materials.
  3. the story could use some web-writing techniques: a Storify story is being presented on the web, and this demands some attention to writing techniques that facilitate on-screen reading. As I discussed in another post, some typical web writing techniques are short paragraphs, clear structure, informative subheads, etc.
  4. try building the story around a theme/focus: in addition to using social media contents to “describe” an event or activity, see if there’s a theme or topic you can “report.” As an example, in a Storify assignment, instructor Maureen Boyle at Stonehill College asked students to cover winter storm Nemo in February 2013. Among the sample student works, Nemo Finds Stonehill College, Snow Storm Nemo Leaves Stonehill Students in Frustration, Blizzard Nemo Hits Stonehill, the one that talks about student frustration is more like a reporting work – it focuses on a newsworthy theme and has contents to expand on that theme.

I designed a Storify assignment in my digital journalism class in fall 2012. The assignment was for every student to take photos, videos and audios of GCU’s homecoming events, share them on the web, and then tweet to the class hashtag. Then every student was asked to create a Storify story by selecting and putting together contents created and shared by the whole class. On top of that, students were asked to conduct interview and research for necessary information.

Below is a sample student work. Scroll down on the screenshot to see how the student leads the story with an intro, breaks the story into several sections, writes a subhead for each section, and provides necessary background information in each section. If the screenshot doesn’t display properly, view it in a separate page:

 
Update: when I shared this post on Twitter, Justin Graeber, the reporter who created the sample Storify story in my post, responded and graciously said he is glad to be part of the learning experience – my thanks to Justin for his experiment with Storify.


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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (www.mulinblog.com/mooc), a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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11 Responses to How to effectively use Storify as a news reporting tool: An experiment in my digital journalism class

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