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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Vadim Lavrusik: Curation and amplification will become much more sophisticated in 2012

A big question for the coming year: How will the right communities get the right kind of news?
Editor’s Note: We’re wrapping up 2011 by asking some of the smartest people in journalism what the new year will bring.

Next up is Vadim Lavrusik, Journalist Program Manager at Facebook.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build a sustainable journalism model. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster.

Okay, putting “Six Million Dollar Man” theme aside, I do believe every word of that. And here’s a small sliver of the way I think the process can be improved: curating information in a way that both puts it in proper context for consumers and amplifies the reporting of the citizenry.

For the last year, much of the focus has been on curating content from the social web and effectively contextualizing disparate pieces of information to form singular stories. This has been especially notable during breaking news events, with citizens who are participating in or observing those events contributing content about them through social media. In 2012, there will be even more emphasis not only on curating that content, but also on amplifying it through increasingly effective distribution mechanisms.

Because anyone can publish content today and report information from a breaking news event, the role journalists can play in amplifying — and verifying — that content becomes ever more important. Contributed reporting from the citizenry hasn’t replaced the work of journalists. In fact, it has made the work of journalists even more important, as there is much more verification and “making sense” of that content that needs to be done. And journalists’ role as amplifiers of information is becoming more crucial.

What does that mean? It means journalists using their skills to verify the accuracy of claims being made on social media and elsewhere, and then effectively distributing that verified information to a larger audience through their publications’ community of readers and fact-checkers on the social web.

Curation itself will continue to evolve and become more sophisticated. As the year has gone on, breaking news itself has taken on new forms beyond the typical chronological curation of a live event. In the new year, we’ll also see new curated story formats. And we’ll see new tools that allow those formats to take life.

But the mentality of content curation needs to evolve, as well. It’s still very much focused on how to find and curate the content around a news event or story, but much like the old model of content production, there is still little emphasis on making sure that the content is effectively distributed, across platforms and communities. The cycle no longer stops after a piece is written or a story is curated from the social web. The story is ever evolving, and the post-production is just as important.

Though there are plenty of journalists doing a great job at recognizing that — and though news organizations themselves are increasingly putting emphasis on content amplification — the creation of content, rather than the distribution of it, remains the primary focus of news outlets.

The coming year will see a more balanced approach. Whether it’s a written story or one curated from the citizenry using social media tools, we will see a growing emphasis placed on content amplification through distribution, and an increasing effort to ensure that the most accurate and verified information is reaching the audience that needs it. Information will, in this environment, inevitably reach the citizenry; at stake is the quality of the information that does the reaching. If content is king, distribution is queen.

Image by Hans Poldoja used under a Creative Commons license.

                                   
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  • http://www.breakingnews.com/ CoryBe

    Entirely agree, Vadim, great insights.  That’s exactly what we’re building at BreakingNews.com, now the largest real-time curation team in journalism.  We discover, verify and amplify all over the place (all major social channels, web and mobile), with lots more to come in 2012!

  • http://twitter.com/LenKendall Len Kendall

    Vadim, great post.

    I thoroughly agree with your prediction about an evolved curation process. We are overwhelmed with content and also the tools to filter that information but my fear is that  it still leaves us overwhelmed. It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario where all the amazing tools being made available to us are also bringing us more content that we can’t consume because we feel as if it’s manageable, but in reality, we don’t have the time to do it.

    My personal take on the issue is that content needs to not only be holistically curated, but the individual content itself needs to be filtered (at times) for the most critical elements. If I may subtly plug Gisto (http://gis.to), that’s exactly what I’m trying to build. Something that takes the core elements of the stories we’re not going to have time to read, but gives the benefit of getting the nuggets of information. A Cliff Notes for the Internet essentially. 

    Of course this solution might still cause the problem I’ve described above, but my hope is that at least it will bring people to more quality long-form content when they do make time to read. Something that is unfortunately dying a quick death among the mass consumer. 

    Looking forward to the upcoming posts in this series,

    Len

  • http://www.facebook.com/catherinegail catherinegail

    Great post Vadim. Well written, succinct & with insights that are right on the money.