Creating Journalists at Emmanuel College

A guide for ENGL 2501 and ENGL 3801

Tell me a Storify

Beyonce shops at the Tewksbury WalMart. Photo via @BeyonceLite

Beyonce shops at the Tewksbury WalMart. Photo via @BeyonceLite

Words my children never said to me: “Tweet me a story, Mom.”

Of course, they were born before most social media. Pregnancy with my son coincided with my first email address and introduction to Usenet (, anyone?); I have files backed up of discussions with my fellow “July 1997 moms.”

In any case, that was my first experience using the Internet to tell a story in some form. As an actual media professional, however, I have all kinds of tools available now to both tell stories and gather information — the website itself, embedded video, photo galleries, Twitter, Facebook.

Students in both of my journalism classes had their first mass live-Tweeting experience Wednesday when Ken Powers visited to talk about the plagiarism scandal that ruined his sportswriting career. Intro to Journalism students will be telling his story in a more traditional way but my Writing for Electronic Media are using an app called Storify to gather all those Tweets together to tell their stories.

Storify allows a writer to search Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites for a topic, user or #hashtag and choose items from those searches to form.

It can be used to tell a story live, if you have an editor working quickly to pull in Tweets, or to capture a story quickly. I now prefer to use ScribbleLive for that, but that’s a demonstration for another class.

An example of when it’s actually better to use Storify: back in December, Beyonce took a shopping trip — to the WalMart in Tewksbury. There was no advance warning. The first The Sun heard about it was via some shocked Tweets from shoppers who were handed gift cards from the diva herself. Sun managing editor Tom Zuppa was at home, and knew the likelihood of a reporter getting to Beyonce on time was unlikely, so he immediately hopped on Storify to grab the reaction. Reporter Rick Sobey was able to mine the Tweets to find witnesses and video of the improbable event for his story.

I showed this one in class: Also in December, Boston Globe reporter Billy Baker took to Twitter to tell a story of his own. I saw the story unfold in real time and maybe, just maybe, I needed a tissue by the end. The Globe created a Storify to host the tale on its own site.

A reminder that not everything you read on the Internet is true is the most-viewed ever: Bachelor producer Elan Gale’s made-up fight with “Diane,” a passenger on his plane on Thanksgiving. It was taken at face value by a reporter for Buzzfeed, who Storified and posted it. An interview with ABC news on why “Diane” happened is here.


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This entry was posted on January 30, 2014 by in Digital Tools and tagged , .

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