Twitter  Is the river behind your house rising? A British Twitter bot will tell you nie.mn/1kQfI9f  
Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Storyful, YouTube: The value of the impermanent team-up

The turmoil in Egypt has shown, yet again, the key role that curation plays in a networked news environment. But as valuable as all the text-based aggregators are — which is to say, hugely valuable — the constantly shifting events on the ground in Egypt make clear how powerful a role video can play in connecting people with the news. You don’t just want to read about or hear about what’s going on; you want to see it. For yourself.

One place you can do that on the web: CitizenTube, YouTube’s news and politics channel. “Raw footage from individuals on the ground offers a visceral window into the situation in Egypt, where crowds are gathering to demand President Mubarak’s resignation,” the channel notes. To present that footage, YouTube has partnered with Storyful, a startup whose goal is to curate the real-time web, to do the important work of filtration.

“It was an invitation that came up in the last week or so,” David Clinch, Storyful’s co-founder and editorial director, told me. Storyful had been curating Egypt video already — not just since January 25, he says, but since the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that took place over New Year’s. YouTube “reached out to us, and said, ‘Look, you guys are the experts, so let’s work together on this.’”

It’s a fascinating experiment. YouTube, after all, for all its obvious benefits, can be difficult to use for a news experience: Videos can be hard to find, they’re not vetted for origin or author, they often lack context, etc. Channels like CitizenTube have tried to provide a solution to those problems — but, to be effective, they generally require some kind of editorial mechanism to bring order to all the tumult. “If you’ve found videos on YouTube that document what’s happening on the streets of Egypt’s cities, please add the links here,” the channel says, making explicit YouTube’s implicit invitation to submit user-generated videos. But, after that invitation’s offered, for an editorial product like CitizenTube, someone needs to sort through the invite’s responses. Someone needs to do the crucial work of curation.

That’s where Storyful comes in. Both Clinch and his Storyful co-founder, Mark Little, are seasoned journalists — both of them, Clinch says, “amazingly, voluntarily, left secure jobs at news companies” to start Storyful. And it’s telling that their experience spans both broadcast journalism and new media. Storyful is in some sense a combination of both. It uses “a proprietary system” that, Clinch says, “is constantly tracking across every platform”: from the biggies of social networking — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — on down.

The idea is to glean an on-the-ground perspective on the news by harnessing the information pinging around on worldwide social networks. Storyful is, as they say, “a good listener.” It tries to know what the big stories are before they become, in the media-coverage sense, Big Stories. A big part of the value it offers is in anticipating, in fact, what the next big story will be. (Storyful is in that sense somewhat similar to Sulia, the Twitter lists-based curation service I wrote about earlier this week, which essentially practices preemptive curation by crawling Twitter for authorities on topics even before they bubble up to the media more broadly.)

Storyful’s partnership with CitizenTube is very much an experiment, Clinch emphasizes, rather than an ongoing collaboration. (CitizenTube seconds that: As a YouTube spokeswoman emphasized in an email, “We’re experimenting with Storyful on curating YouTube videos to improve discovery of Egyptian protest content for our users.”) But that makes the team-up, to some extent, even more meaningful than a more ongoing partnership might be. The Storyful/YouTube collaboration is a marriage of convenience — in the best sense. It didn’t require a lot of legal haggling or back-room dealing. It simply required an invitation and an acceptance, with no further commitment necessary. We talk a lot about the “shifting public,” the interest group that, on the web, can dissolve as quickly as it comes together. Those dynamic confederacies, in their efficiency, can be powerful. And equally powerful can be collaborations that come together to serve a purpose, content to be nothing more — and nothing less — than experiments.

                                   
What to read next
taxforms2
Justin Ellis    July 16, 2014
The new streamlined application process for becoming a 501(c)(3) might help nonprofit news startups — at least small ones — get off the ground more quickly.
  • Pingback: [WATCH]: iFrogz Luxe Case Review (for iPod Touch 2g)

  • http://www.facebook.com/danegolden Dane Golden

    For more in-depth background on Storyful, see this interview I did with cofounder David Clinch in January: http://hey.com/52

  • http://www.facebook.com/danegolden Dane Golden

    For more in-depth background on Storyful, see this interview I did with cofounder David Clinch in January: http://hey.com/52

  • http://www.facebook.com/danegolden Dane Golden

    For more in-depth background on Storyful, see this interview I did with cofounder David Clinch in January: http://hey.com/52

  • Pingback: Myrstad's Blog » Blog Archive » Content Curation – Growing Up and Coming of Age

  • Fumb Duck

    I really do not like how you guys have hit me with a copyright claim today against a youtube video that i made this morning …The original footage was filmed on a mobile phone in Notting Hill London as i watched, this footage is in the public domain and is all over the internet in many various forms including YouTube…My own version has been heavily edited by me including a completely new soundtrack a changed start and finish..titles,subtitles and added special effects.I allow no adverts on my channel and do not monetise any of my vids…I have disputed the claim but if i lose they are threatening to delete my entire channel…I am willing to take that risk and would rather have it deleted than have somebody else earn money of my hard work by placing adverts on my vid. Peace.