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Blog emperor fiddles while Gawker burns 

After managing editor Nick Denton declared he wasn’t content with being “king of the playground” (i.e. the blogosphere) anymore, Gawker Media launched their redesign last week to near-universal loathing. Endeavouring to “move beyond the blog,” Gawker.com and its child sites (GizmodoKotaku, etc.) have shifted from the traditional reverse-chronological list to a large central story with an accompanying sidebar of older pieces.

Web redesigns are usually unpopular in the short term, and Gawker has managed to provoke horror and outrage amongst critics complaining of an ugly, unintuitive interface and longer load times. The creators of web comic Penny Arcade – who ranked last year in Time’s Top 100 list of the world’s most influential people – devoted a comic to it, calling it “a violation of the Geneva Conventions” and demanding the perpetrators be “tried in the Hague.

In an interesting twist, people have been flocking to the Canadian versions of the Gawker sites, which haven’t shifted to the new format yet. The old layout probably won’t last – but in the meantime, which will you be using?




How to Storify, because Tweeting is so passé

Storify v. t. To form or tell stories of; to narrate or describe in a story.

It seems like only yesterday reporters were using Twitter as a quick and easy way to aggregate news tips.

Journalists are now experimenting with Storify, the latest San Francisco-based project, which recently got a $2 million boost, to aggregate social media content to turn things like photos, videos, tweets, and Facebook posts into stories that can be published and embedded on sites such as WordPress and Tumblr.

Think of it as one, long continuous multimedia Facebook wall post that includes text providing additional background info to the social media narrative. Storify’s CEO Burt Herman told the Online Journalism Reviewabout his original idea:

“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 ‘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.”

One use for this tool is to depict online conversations unfolding about news items. NPR, The Washington Post, and PBS NewsHour were some of the first to try this new web tool; Al Jazeera is currently using Storify to tell the story of conflicts between Iran’s government and protesters. It includes tweets, a clip from Anderson Cooper 360 and photos of protesters allegedly killed by the government…or you could use Storify to make cute online scrapbooks from weddings or parties with posts from all your friends!

Even though it’s currently in private beta (you need to request an invite to use it), it shows promise—over 10,000 stories have already been storified, according to Herman. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use Storify, along with some tips provided by Herman himself.

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About the author

Kevin Hamilton was the Front of Book Editor for the Summer 2011 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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