5 ways Storyful Stays Ahead of the Competition

On Monday of the Super J New York trip, our group had the pleasure of visiting Storyful. We walked into the energetic office complete with a startup feel and brightly colored walls decorated with screen grabs from different viral videos. Storyful is a company which verifies user-generated content and markets the videos to outside organizations. They work with newsrooms, television programs, and advertising agencies as well as create their own software to track trends on social media. While we were there we got the chance to have a conversation with Mandy Jenkins, head of news at Storyful who taught us about the steps taken to verify a video.

A brief introduction to Storyful.

1. Use social tools like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook to find stories and reach sources.

The media landscape has drastically changed as social media has become more popular. News is more accessible than ever and, with the right tools, Storyful has found a successful business model to verify and monetize viral content in a way that is useful to news organizations. The flow of information on social media has never been larger. There are over 6,000 tweets published to Twitter every second and 300 hours of video unloaded to YouTube every hour. According to Jenkins, her team is able to take this large volume of data and give context to videos in order to bridge the gap between user-generated-content and newsrooms.

2. Realize there will always be someone closer to the story

Journalists can not always be at the source of breaking news and social media has become one of the first ways journalists can find stories because content is being uploaded in real time. More than ever before, journalists have access to breaking news at their fingertips and can verify video content to share with media organizations and tell important stories. For example, Storyful was one of the first to receive iPhone videos from the United Airlines scandal on April 9th by searching YouTube and Twitter.

A clip from one of the viral videos of the United Airlines scandal plays on CNN.

3. Employ more sophisticated tools like Heatmap and Multisearch.

Storyful created programs that help their employees stay on top of trends and verify content more quickly including Heatmap. Heatmap was coded by the company to use keywords and lists that keep track of micro-trends on social platforms. When a word or phrase starts popping up in the Heatmap Feed, Storyful can be one of the first media organizations to view and verify content for breaking news.

Heatmap was created by Storyful to track social media trends.

4. Reach out directly to the source.

Jenkins noted the importance of talking directly to a source to verify content. Whether it is a light-hearted dog video that makes it on to the Ellen show, or the evidence of chemical attacks in Syria, Storyful works to make direct contact with the source. It is crucial to talk one-on-one with the people who film or are in a video to ensure it is a credible source.

5. Reach out when you need help.

Many journalists at Storyful watch breaking news unfold and are a witness to stories that can be traumatic and heartbreaking. Jenkins stressed the need for journalists to be aware of certain topics that upset them more than others and take breaks when needed. To avoid vicarious trauma, journalists must be self aware while simultaneously supporting their colleagues.

Final Thoughts

During our time with Jenkins we heard a sentiment that was echoed for the rest of the week: it has never been a better time to be a journalist. As the industry changes, media organizations like Storyful continue to innovate and use social media platforms to gather information, inspire people in the industry, and tell important stories.

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