When a news story is just the beginning of the conversation, try Storify

Let’s say you want to share an interesting news story with your friends. You might use a variety of different tools — Digg, Twitter or Facebook to name a few — but the end result is usually the same. You share a link, and that link leads to one destination — the article.

But what if the news story is sparking a big reaction from readers? People are tweeting and blogging and posting interesting responses online. You might want to not only share the article, but also the conversation about the article.

Storify lets you do that.

Check out this story module I created on Storify about a celery recall at a food processing plant in San Antonio:

Under one link, you can embed news articles, tweets and Facebook posts, YouTube videos, photos, blog posts … you name it. You can package this content, share it, and embed it on blogs, like I did in this post.

Storify is the creation of developer Xavier Damman and journalist Burt Herman, a former foreign correspondent for the Associated Press. Herman said they wanted to create a tool that helps people make sense out of the chaos of online content:

The idea comes from thinking about the future of journalism and the fact that everyone now is creating so much content. We’re flooded with Tweets, YouTube videos, Flickr photos and everything else. Everyone can be a “reporter” when an event happens. But not everyone is a “journalist” — making sense of an issue and giving the context. So we built a system to help people do this, take the best of social media and make it into a story — to “storify” it. The word itself is actually in the dictionary, and also comes from my AP days when editors would send messages to bureaus asking them to “storify” something.

So what makes Storify different from simply posting links to YouTube videos or Flickr photos in a normal blog post? In Storify, the tweets, photos and other elements retain their interactivity. For example, you can retweet specific tweets from within the story. Storify is also pretty simple to use. You find photos, stories and other elements, click and drag them into a storyline, and publish it.

Blogs and news organizations are coming up with intriguing ways to use Storify. The news site TBD used Storify to create a chronology of events surrounding a death outside a nightclub.

The significance of Storify didn’t really click for me initially. Then I made the celery-recall story, shared it on Twitter and Facebook, and it dawned on me how it can improve the way people share information.

Normally I tweet a link to a website or article I like, some people retweet that, I might respond to those folks on Twitter, and that’s it. Now, if I want to, I can link to a story and the reaction to the story in one fell swoop. You can package an interesting destination of news, reactions to the news, videos, follow-up stories … all kinds of stuff.

Storify is for people who think a news story isn’t the end of a conversation, but the beginning of one.

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