I’ve been excited to see the new Reported.ly team in action, and this week’s news out of France has mobilized the social-first team for the first time.
Andy Carvin, editor-in-chief of Reported.ly (an offshoot of First Look Media), wrote about how his team covered the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the subsequent fallout. I won’t rehash Carvin’s post (read it in full here), but will outline here the reasons why I’m so excited to follow their work.
- Reported.ly is platform-less. Sure, they have a blog on Medium, but their focus is the work they do on specific social media platforms (Twitter for breaking news, Reddit for sourcing, etc).
- Reported.ly is doing journalism natively on various social platforms, meaning their “mission” is different than that of most social journalists working today. I am lucky that in my position at PRI’s The World, my goal is engagement, not pageviews. But still, I’m “doing journalism” with this goal always in mind. I have to ask myself: Will people respond to this? How can I tease out a dialogue? Who can I contact that would add to the conversation? Carvin and his team, on the other hand, are using social media exclusively to find and verify information.
- Carvin’s team clearly thinks journalism-first, distribution second. They are not so concerned with their website or where their content will live. They want to figure out the truth behind the news, and worry about how to get that to their audiences later. Carvin acknowledged this in his blog post (“Since most people aren’t glued to Twitter for 18 hours straight, it’s important that we make a habit out of reminding people where things stand, just in case they’re tuning in for the first time.”)
- Reported.ly journalists are using the following tools (among many other) to report: Twitter lists to monitor events, Twitter research to triangulate sources and sources around a subject, Twitter geolocation to find footage from the ground, Google Earth to visualize and verify alleged locations, Google Hangouts to coordinate reporting within the team, and Storify to curate accurate information. Those are only the platforms that Carvin mentioned in his post; I’m sure they use many more and will only expand as they figure out their workflow.
- When one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shooting was identified, Carvin and Kim Bui used social to build a robust portrait of the man. But it was only after the AP went public with the names of the suspects that Reported.ly published a Storify that included the younger’s suspects full name, age, school, and tweets from those that claimed to know him or be his friends. I was impressed by the hesitation to publish the suspects’ names, and Carvin’s explanation behind their eventual decision to publish. (The dangers of publishing information about a suspect in a fast-moving story are very real. Carvin has in the past defended his “inside-out” and “open” journalism style, and the merits have been debated ad-nauseum. Reported.ly’s work will no doubt force this conversation forward, towards a resolution or an accepted standard for social media reporting.)
- I am not surprised how frustrating the Reported.ly team found Facebook and Graph Search during the Charlie Hebdo story. Facebook’s latest search updates eliminated (I hope only temporarily) the ability to search for people and filter for sources. Also, I’m looking forward to the team’s experiments with Reddit live blogs.
Bottom line: The next time anyone tells you that social media is just for curation and regurgitation, point them towards @Reportedly.