How preparation and a simple goal enables better Storify curation

The Sacramento Kings made news last night.

You may have heard all about it on Sunday. You may have clicked on a breaking news alert. You may have rushed to social media to comment.

I did not. I was asleep. The “do not disturb” feature was enabled on my phone. I am glad it was. Otherwise, I would have heard my phone buzz, clicked that link, read the story and wanted to learn more. It would have been tough to go back to sleep before my 6 a.m. shift.

What are people saying? Can I do something special when I get in the office? How many angles will our reporters be chasing? 

I know this, because that’s what I thought when I looked at my phone at 5 a.m. before hopping in the shower.

I made a plan to capture the social media buzz around the decision using Storify and I began by casting digital nets as soon as I was dressed.

After getting to the office and doing the normal morning online editors duties, I curated a synopsis of the emerging story lines.

My post, “Sacramento Kings stun fans, media by firing coach Michael Malone,” provides an arguably representative snapshot of what was said on social media throughout the morning. It includes news, opinion and stories to reads.

Here are some approaches that I found helpful:

Pull together what you already know

I have curated 20 Twitter lists under a variety of topics, including some that I consider comprehensive. They are regularly helpful in taking the pulse of specific communities.

I knew my lists on the media members and fans who cover the Kings, national NBA media, the local media as a whole and local influencers would provide a solid source of news, observation and commentary.

All four lists were built long ago and are relatively well-maintained. I didn’t have to spend time building a foundation of sources.

If you ever have free time, and want to someday curate news in Storify, start building lists.

Find a method to gather as much information as you can

After getting dressed this morning, I opened a tab for each list in my browser and scrolled to the bottom of the page to load as many tweets as possible.

At some point, Twitter will no longer allow you to see older tweets. I wanted to make sure I had a good snapshot of the tweets that came soon after news broke on Sunday.

Survey social media

I kept to Twitter for this story. Be where people are having the conversation.

I worked my way up from the bottom of the four lists, decided on the framework of the story and refreshed the lists throughout the morning. Tweets were not necessarily chronological.

 Craft a narrative

After providing a short summary and links to our coverage, it made sense to chunk tweets in a variety of categories after short introductory text.

The narrative goes as follows:
– the shock of the news
– an analysis of the outgoing coach’s accomplishments
– speculation on the next coach
– wonder of how the players felt
– frustration with management and ownership
– player comments
– optimism

Chunking tweets allows for easy updating, especially if you need to hand the storytelling over to someone else.

Ask for help

Extend an olive branch to your community.

I wanted to allow people to contribute to story, so I tweeted at 7:24 a.m.:

Then, I retweeted it from our main account to connect to a bigger audience.

I used responses from @EdYevelev, @Mark_Kawada, @EDHCal and @Sfrancis49, and notified them that I used their contributions. I also used the notify tool in Storify to tell others.

Target an ending

I knew the story would continue to evolve throughout the day and wanted to find a cut-off point. Otherwise, an already-long post would get longer and I would be imposing upon another editor to keep the piece fresh.

Three words kept popping up on social media: stunning, shocking and bizarre. This was the focus. Just the reaction, nothing more.

What happened next would be found elsewhere on the site.

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