Integrating social media into reporting adds value for readers: the story is more relevant, and it also unfolds in real-time. With available online tools, reporters can map stories, interact with readers, and attract more attention.
Intersect, a social platform for storytelling, is proving to be a great resource for reporters. Users publish stories (that happened in the past, present, or will happen in the future) and map the "intersection" where the story took place. They can add pictures and video to their text. Stories can be then shared with others who live in the vicinity or have also shared stories in the same location.
Other location-based services exist, such as FourSquare, but they are missing Intersect's storytelling element. Intersect's value is in the richness of content shared, and the added dimension of time - stories stay on the time-line, chronicled at a specific time and place.
The Detroit Free Press recently used the service in an investigative project. Reporter Tina Lam and photographer Brian Kaufman chronicled their 13-day journey through multiple states investigating the encroachment of Asian Carp up into the Great Lakes.
Through Intersect, the story unfolded visually. The reporters chronicled the government efforts to stop the species' invasion and the damage that had already been incurred, posting pictures and mapping their story. On the site, the Detroit Free Press' Director of Digital Audience Development Stafanie Murray explained how the technology helped the story evolve from what would have been a single print edition story to a series of real time updates, with a series report at the end.
"For so many years, newspapers have told stories in the order they think stories should be told. This is the lead, this is the middle, this is the end," Murray said." We now know people want to consume information and read stories in a way that makes sense to them."
We previously reported on The Washington Post's use of Intersect last October in order to crowdsource Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally. Both reporters and readers contributed video, pictures, stories, which were gathered on the Washington Post's website.
Katharine Zaleski, the executive producer and head of digital news products for The Washington Post, was quoted on Intersect.
"The Intersect experiment has worked really nicely. Great automatic feed of photos, video, and insights from the rally."
Most newspapers are exploring ways to integrate social media into their reporting in order to provide their stories on compelling platforms. Intersect is a prime example of a service that can supplement the news while going beyond a Facebook poll or a Tweet. Reporting is published in real time, but it also has layers - the audience knows where it happened, when it happened, and how close the story is to their own 'intersections'.
For more information, Intersect has published a Press Guide that can be downloaded here.