A story breaks and you want to build a Twitter source list to help you track developments.
So what do you do?
Your next move probably includes using a combination of Twitter search, Topsy, Listorious, Twiangulate or similar tools. Looking at who your major sources are following and conversing with can also be helpful.
Here’s something else you should do: search Storify.
Most journalists think of Storify as a platform to use only after sources and content have been identified; a good place to go once you have the story and want to convey it. And yes, Storify is a great storytelling tool, but it’s a goldmine of sources too. All you have to do is search.
Think about it.
If a tweet makes it into a reputable source’s Storify story, it’s a good indication that someone found it highly relevant, insightful or articulate — which is exactly what you want out of a source. Searching Storify basically allows you to access dozens of lists of sources who have not only tweeted about your topic lately (Storify search results default to most recent), but who have had something noteworthy to say about it.
This isn’t the best strategy if you’re putting together something really fast. In that case, Twitter search should be your first destination. The search results on Storify do not have the same immediacy, and they won’t always turn up sources who are tweeting about your topic at that moment. But the search results will help you identify experts and sources who might add a valuable perspective or provide interesting commentary later. Storify search is a good way to forecast who might be interesting next — perfect inspiration for the second-day story.
I’ve found this especially useful for finding sources for international news stories because in many cases, non-government organizations will try to amplify the voices of their in-country staff or connections. For example, if I wanted to find Twitter sources for the recent Ebola outbreak in Uganda, a few quick keyword searches would have led me to this story on a related CDC chat and to this one, which quotes sources on the ground. That’s a fairly obscure topic, so you can imagine how much more helpful this would be for something more mainstream.
But a word of caution: Storify search is far from perfect. It returns results for stories that aren’t exactly related to your topic, but are authored by a person or organization that has created something related to your topic. Hopefully the search function gets more specific over time, but a combination of looking for your keyword in the story headline or description preview can help you figure out what to review pretty quickly.
If you would like to contribute a guest post on an aspect of how journalists use Twitter, email me at stephenbuttry (at) gmail (dot) com with your idea. If your post has been published elsewhere, I will use the first few paragraphs here, then link to your original piece.