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Keeping the Storify Timeline Organized

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Storify is a useful tool for every reporter that wants to use social media and the Internet as their main source.  Storify allows users to quickly assemble and organize Tweets, Facebook updates, and almost anything else they want by using Storify’s search engine or through add-ons in browsers like Chrome.  Unfortunately, the storyline section can become bloated with sources before you’ve actually started to write your story.  Here are some helpful tips to keep that storyline under control.

  • Do some outside research and develop a basic outline before using Storify.  The biggest way to clog up the storyline is to grab up as many bits of social media as you can before knowing what you’re going to say and how you’re going to go about organizing the story.  Research the topic you’re interested in curating and find out what’s going on so you can focus your searches and pick out the best pieces to use.
  • Use your text to organize your clips.  It is difficult to see where you are in the storyline as you drag clips around.  Thankfully the text that you add as a user looks different from the sourced clips, so add some text to help you see where you are in the timeline.  The different color stands out against the sourced clips and makes it easier to stop, read it, and then move on if you’re not at the correct section.
  • Organize your clips consistently to avoid confusion.  Make sure the way you present your clips in each section is the same.  Putting the clips in chronological order with the oldest clips at the top is usually the best default, but there are occasions where you’ll want to start with the end of the story before getting to the beginning. Make sure you’re presentation is clear so that readers don’t get confused about the order of events.
  • You don’t need to use the entire Internet when writing your story.  It’s easy to grab as many clips as possible when assembling your story, but you still need to write the story.  Don’t use twenty clips on a topic when one or two will be fine, especially if those one or two clips are the best of the bunch.  There’s no way to reasonably show every example that backs up your story, so keep it to the best examples only.
This is not the most comprehensive guide to keeping your Storify storyline clean, but they are useful tips that I’ve learned while using it to write a stories.  The interface is great and it allows me to assemble information faster than if I were using screen captures or other means through my computer, but it can become unwieldy if you spend too much time capturing clips and not enough time considering what you’re going to say about them.  Be careful about how you use it, but make sure that you look at Storify if you plan on reporting with social media and the Internet.
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Written by Christopher Siler

2011/08/09 at 18:32

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