Storyful is the company that tells news organizations which social media posts can be used in news stories and which are unreliable.
It’s the way people operate today. They wake up, and they go on-line. Many people get their daily news that way, and they have their favorite websites to peruse to acquire the day’s top stories.
Then they go to those other websites to see videos of weird things happening, or to read the new stories that are interesting but not considered hard news.
Then they contact their friends and family to see if they, too, have seen those weird stories and videos, and then wonder together if they are true or not.
If those same people visit GoogleNews or Yahoo! News, they can trust that the stories there are true, and have been verified. That’s because they have been verified by a company called Storyful.
Storyful, a Dublin company acquired 18 months ago by News Corp for $25 million, uses proprietary technology along with journalistic instincts to determine if stories posted on social media sites are, in fact, fact. Storyful was named one of the top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 by Fast Company for “keeping social media honest.”
The Wall Street Journal (which is owned by News Corp), the New York Times, the Weather Channel, ABC-TV and Fox News all use Storyful, as do dozens of major companies who need to verify information used in their advertising campaigns.
In mid-June, Storyful joined with google News Lab to launch YouTube Newswire, a dedicated YouTube channel to serve as a resource for journalists looking for videos from around the world that will benefit their news stories.
Storyful has already paired with Facebook on FB Newswire, a feed of user-generated content originally posted on Facebook. It includes news reports on technology issues for FB Techwire.
“The platforms for Storyful are both the source and the destination for great content and powerful storytelling,’’ said Storyful managing editor Aine Kerr to NeimanLab.org. “But those platforms are getting noisier and it’s our job to find the stories worth telling and help journalists do great journalism using the power of eyewitness media.”
The benefit to news organizations is clear: Storyful verifies the validity of content posted on social media to determine who posted it, and if that person is actually reporting from the event or re-posting someone else’s video. News organizations want the material offered on social media but understand that it can be a sticky wicket in terms of ownership, copyright and authenticity.
“We like to think about (Storyful) as the first social news agency,’’ said CEO Mark Little in an interview with National Public Radio in 2014.
Several dozen journalists working in Dublin, Hong Kong and New York scour social media platforms to find content that Storyful’s clients need, then authenticate it so that it can be used by a news organization.
“What I am doing is applying traditional journalistic skills to a new medium,’’ said Storyful duty editor Megan Specia to NPR. “Plugging in certain key terms, we can have accessing immediately to searches on (numerous social media sites), which really speeds up the discovery process.”
Storyful has also proven vital in determining which videos do not show true events. Do you remember seeing a video of an eagle grabbing a baby out of a public park? Didn’t happen, and Storyful is the company that determined the video was a hoax.
Many people in the journalism industry believe companies will someday have their own staffers to do what Storyful does, but for now, Storyful is the best at it, and journalism companies pay for that service. CEO Little is adamant about maintaining the company’s core skill, which is verifying the truth of social media content for use in journalism.
“We’re very much of the opinion that we are turning content into stories,’’ Little said. “This is all about storytelling.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.