In the 21st Century, there is no shortage of citizens playing news journalists. These bystanders capture news on their digital phones or cameras and then post the video on YouTube or another video social media channel. They may also post or tweet accounts of the unfolding news event on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. Depending on the significance of the news story, some approach news stations and try to sell their scoops.
How do news organizations know if what they are getting is fake or real? That’s where Storyful comes to the rescue. This company acts as a detective agency, verifying what stories from YouTube, Twitter and other social media channels are legit. Storyful has done investigations for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ABC and other media outlets as they make YouTube videos, tweets and cell phone video part of their news story line up.
Many years ago when I was a TV news journalist, the public rarely got involved in reporting a news story. Technology had a lot to do with it. Therefore, the public would only be an eyewitness or the subject of the story. Using an amateur video was taboo. On those rare occasions when a News Director gave the okay to use such video, “Amateur Video” was keyed over the footage. Now that I think about it, the viewers probably didn’t care as much as we thought. Yes, there probably was some liability to the news station, since Storyful didn’t exist then, but the photojournalists complained the most. Some would squeal loader than pigs for days. Others would refuse to edit the video for airing. I realize now these journalists were acting out of self-preservation, as well as trying to prevent ribbings they’d reap from their colleagues at other stations. Many times, I would say, “lets run the footage” especially when one of our competitors was giving us a ratings spanking, which was typically the case at my very first station.
Thankfully, news organizations have Storyful to track down Boston Bombing videos and other national tragedies that have unfolded in recent weeks. Old mindsets are slow to die, but I’m finally wholeheartedly accepting the public’s role as journalists. If the goal is to educate and inform, why not. The vantage point may be better than a news organization’s. Increasingly, news stations ask the public for help in reporting the news. They encourage viewers to give news tips and photos. One thing that hasn’t changed is that news organizations are still reluctant to pay citizens for their news stories. CRJ
Click here to read more about Storyful.