My students recently learned about mining social media to get at stories. They started by reading a post I wrote last semester on curation journalism. Social media can be useful in getting story ideas (particularly trends), acquiring sources, and asking questions, and my students did all of that. But I also want them to understand how stories that are curated from social media can not only provide readers with a broad overview of a particular story, but also can also give readers an intimate feeling by letting those involved tell the story in their own (140) words. It’s as if the journalist is tour guide, inviting the reader to take a walk with them through the story.
I found this particular compelling in regards to the anniversary of 9/11 this year. It is interesting (if a bit horrifying) to imagine what 9/11 would have looked like had we had social media back then. The tweets would likely have been unbearably intimate. Being a fly-on-the-wall to all that destruction (more than the live TV coverage already allowed) is something that would have been heartbreaking.
But from the distance of 11 years, social media proved itself a fitting way to hold tribute to that tragic day. No place was this more apparent than on Storify, the popular curation site. Check out the way Storify itself compiled how other outlets curated the anniversary.