A social media journalism story – Tent City in Lakewood New Jersey

Storify is a recent tool (released April 2011) utilizing resources from various social media and web contents to tell a story. It has seen quick and wide adoptions by reporters as well as educators. Some people even use Storify to create interactive resume for job applications.

I created a Storify story about the Tent City in Lakewood, New Jersey; the story is embedded below this post. This “tent city” has attracted attention of national media as “a living demonstration of what the economy is doing to people.” It tells about the makeshift settlement for homeless people in Lakewood and how the city officials try to close the site and evict its residents.

This Storify story makes use of Youtube videos, twitter tweets, google interactive maps, online comments, online news articles, and photos – typical elements to build a Storify story.

Some journalism instructors have incorporated Storify in their teaching and have developed some guidelines for journalists (in this case, students) using Storify. I want to add some of my thoughts on using Storify for effective news storytelling:

  • Plan the story structure beforehand – you are not supposed to dump a lot of relevant pieces together for the reader to figure out what happened.
  • Provide adequate contexts/background – you cannot expect anyone reading your story to be familiar with the subject to begin with.
  • Select social media elements wisely – choose those elements that best support/buttress what you write in the intro/transitions.


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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