Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites have become commonplace as sources for professional journalists, as regular people are often the first ones to witness and document significant events. Such material can be valuable in, for example, providing context for a news story. However, finding and collecting the relevant material, as well as using it to create an effective story, can be difficult.
Storify was created to address this problem. The website is designed to make it easy for journalists and others to sift through content on social media sites and publish the most relevant information. Journalists from The Washington Post, NPR, PBS and other news outlets used the service during a private test period, and the site opened to the public Monday, The New York Times reported.
The amount of user-generated material on the Internet is increasing at an overwhelming speed, making it extremely difficult to keep track of it. "We have so many real-time streams now, we're all drowning," Burt Herman, a founder of Storify, said. "So the idea of Storify is to pick out the most important pieces, amplify them and give them context."
Storify's users are able to pull in content from different social-media sites and create sort of story streams. Users can also embed these streams on their own sites. Some news providers already employ the new web tool. One of them is The Stream, a new Al Jazeera English talk show with a strong Internet presence that relies on an extensive use of Storify. "We knew we basically needed to capitalize on the reality that the industry is facing, which is that we no longer have exclusivity on sharing and publishing information," said Ahmed Shihab Eldin, a producer and host of The Stream.
GigaOM pointed out that calling what people do with Storify "aggregation" does not describe accurately what the site is meant for. The selection of content is made by people, Storify's users, not by some automatic algorithm. Instead, some prefer to call the website's main funtion "curation," which brings out the person doing the filtering of online content with the intention of creating a kind of story stream.
While only traditional media sources used to do curation and filtering before, GigaOM noted that thanks to social media and relevant tools, it is now possible for anyone to sift through masses of online content and present it in an appealing way. The article goes on to speculate that while Storify will probably not threaten digital media outlets on its own, it is part of a broader trend whose importance is likely to grow exponentially in the media field.