This week I tried the new online platform, Storify, to write an article about a severe storm in Battle Creek, Michigan. Storify, for those of you who have not played around with it, is a new platform that allows you to incorporate various web and social media elements, such as Twitter posts, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Facebook posts, etc. into a story and publish it online.
Positives and benefits
Storify is a unique and easy way to include various elements found online into a story. By clicking on the appropriate icon on the left, you can easily search YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc. for various elements to include in your story. Say, for example, you wanted to write a story about the protests that happened in Egypt. Using this tool, you could easily search all of various outlets and find what you need much quicker that you would be able to by going to the individual sites. This is a journalists dream because it significantly lessens the amount of time they need to gather information.
Storify also makes it easy to incorporate these elements into your story. In the past, you had to screenshot items you wanted and then insert them into your post/story, etc. Now, with the simple drag and drop feature, you can include posts, videos, and other elements with minimal effort.
The new web platform also lets you continually update your story as things change and new information becomes available. Again, this is very important to journalists who are continually updating their stories as new information comes in. Storify makes this process easy and quick.
Probably one of my favorite features of Storify is the feedback mechanism. You can send a message to the owner of the content you incorporated letting them know that you used their elements in a story. This adds a positive element to the stories posted because the owners of the original content can take pride in their content being used for a story. That then could encourage those people to share it with their friends and family, which could significantly increase the story’s readership. Also, the notification encourages a feedback loop by letting people know that you used something of theirs. This is a common courtesy, even if items are in the public domain.
Areas for Improvement
Despite all of its positives, there are a few things that could be improved about Storify.
First, Storify did not work correctly with the latest version of Internet Explorer 9. The icon to be able to begin writing a story did not appear. It did, however, appear when I used Mozilla Firefox. I sent Storify a message alerting them to this issue.
The platform is also only as good as the individual search engines for each site and the information on those sites. For example, I was searching for information on a storm that hit Battle Creek, Michigan. For Twitter, I was able to search for references to a “storm” or “trees down” within a certain mile radius of the area. This made it pretty easy to find information. However, because Twitter isn’t very popular in Battle Creek yet, information was minimal and most did not include the hashtag #battlecreekstorm. For larger stories in areas where Twitter is popular, I think this would be eliminated by more people using the site and using hashtags. For Facebook, it was much more difficult to find what I was looking for because Facebook does not allow you to search by radius or other elements that may narrow the results to what you are looking for.
The linear model of Storify was somewhat frustrating for me. I’m the type of person who likes to gather all of the information I want, and then spread it out in a way that I can look at it all and then make decisions of how to put it together (you can imagine what my living room floor looks like when I scrapbook!). With Storify, I snatched everything I might want for my story and put it in so I didn’t lose any of it if the content wasn’t there when I went looking again. But by doing this, it became a really tedious process to continually scroll down and up to see what I had and put it in the order I wanted it in. I would recommend some sort of “holding pen” for elements that is separate from the story.
Overall, I really like the concept of Storify and like the way the platform works. I think it will be a great tool for journalists and people looking for various elements to include in an online story.
This story was originally published on my MSU Journalism class blog, Fit To Type.