A couple of weeks ago, in the cold and bleak last week of 2013, journalism—scratch that, Journalism—had one of its biggest wins of the year. Newscorp, Rupert Murdoch’s
phone-tapping publishing company, made the audacious move to purchase Storyful for $25 million. For all those who care about the current state of news and the declining quality and integrity of the media, it’s a monumental event. Here’s why.
It isn’t about the money. $25 million isn’t chump change, but it’s not Facebook money either. It is, however, a strong vote of confidence in Storyful’s mission. The Dublin-based agency aggregates videos and pictures posted to Twitter and other social networks and reports on them. They help news agencies make sense of news being generated by non-journalists around the world—giving real credibility to so-called “citizen journalists” and helping news organizations expand their reach and breadth of coverage on important issues.
“Storyful has become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content,” said Robert Thomson, News Corp chief executive. “Through this acquisition, we can extend the village square across borders, languages and platforms.”
More than anything, Storyful is an organization that gives credence to the concept of earned media. Its focus is on organic news—things that are really happening and really worth sharing. It is, in this way, the anti-Buzzfeed. There are no cat videos or marketing gimmicks to be found. Instead, the staff is made up of experienced journalists whose job it is to identify truly valuable content from all corners of the Internet. They broadcast these videos on established networks, including the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Al Jazeera.
Those of us in PR should take note. Here is an agency dedicated to filtering through all of the noise that passes across our computer screens everyday. Moreover, it’s proof that people are willing to invest in that kind of filter—because social media is full of great, shareable riches if you know where to look. And if you just want to add another ill-conceived branded video, pretty soon it’s not going to make the cut.