People have always laughed at my unusual interest in American presidential campaigns. I’m one of those guys you’ll find up at 4 a.m. with three TV sets blinking and my Twitter feed on the brink of explosion. At least, that’s who I was in the run-up to the November 6 election this year. Last time – for the 2008 election – I was in college, and spent the night just clicking refresh on my news feed and waiting for 11 p.m. to roll around for coverage to start. This was before the social media revolution that transformed journalism and changed the way we would all consume news. I knew after that I needed to pivot into social media, not only to keep myself sane, but also to save my fledgling journalism career.
Storyful was my first big step into the social media stratosphere. Although I was finding plenty of work in print, I knew I needed to adapt to the social media world and thought Storyful might be a good place to start. Although daunting at first, it gave me a different view of how news is gathered and distributed in comparison to other newsrooms. I’d put it like this: if Storyful is the Wi-Fi of news, other newsrooms are still on dialup. Watching news through social media is faster than its traditional counterpart and it’s more directly engaging.
Plugged in for Storyful right now scoping Twitter. Afternoon peeps.
— Liam Cahill(@Liampcahill) September 24, 2012
I was put to work predominantly with Storyful’s Political Editor Aine Kerr who gave me the task of scanning social media for interesting clips, sound bites, political gaffes, comedy sketches, or rare moments when a campaign goes into meltdown such as Mitt Romney’s fundraiser references to the “47 percent” or Obama’s lackluster debate performance in Denver. This form of discovery gave me the opportunity to fine-tune my approach to stories, helping me to become more aware of social media tools and how they can be used to both find and disseminate news.
For me, it was fascinating to watch Storyful’s social media game plan, and see them find and break stories so far ahead of the print media that was my previous home. It didn’t always start out as exciting: many days I would find myself searching the word Obama in a variety of phrases, and only find videos dating back to the 2008 campaign. But it was worth it when you hit the motherlode and could bring clients a story from a perspective totally different to that I was used to seeing in traditional media.
The great thing about it is that this kind of discovery leaves the door wide open for journalists, like myself. In 2012, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr are key tools for journalists who live off a two-minute clip that can tell a thousand words – and anyone can have access. As a result of my time at Storyful, I can use the experience I garnered over the course of the election to help in my own reporting and news gathering. Plus, I may still be up all night, but at least with social media, I know I’m not alone. Now I’m connecting with not just a common audience, but with the newsmakers themselves.
We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you. -bo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012