I hadn’t heard of Reported.ly before and it was a little hard to get a grasp on exactly what it was, from reading two articles, one an introduction to the service, and one about how it reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attacks only 48 hours after its launch.
Reported.ly is a decentralized network of six journalists who post to social media on news, both breaking news and ongoing situations. There is no central site for readers to explore. Their primary output is tweets, Facebook statuses, and posts on Medium for more in-depth coverage.
Medium, which I have thought about using myself, is itself more decentralized than blog sites like WordPress or Blogger. It encourages readers to read individual posts by a variety of authors, rather than only reading certain blogs. It is egalitarian but also a little strange.
I guess it’s a sign of getting old when new uses of technology no longer make intuitive sense and you have to think for a minute to figure them out.
Reported.ly embraces the ways Millenials (and whatever the next generation is called!) are consuming news via emerging technology. Reported.ly doesn’t have a centralized site because our generation(s) tend to get news from social media… we’re in such a hurry and have such a short attention span that we only want to consume news in 140 characters (preferably less).
The founder of Reported.ly, Andy Carvin, said, “It may sound counter-intuitive, but I view users of social media platforms as underserved when it comes to news.” That doesn’t sound counter-intuitive to me, at least not after I thought about it for a second. There is so much noise on social media — rumors, misinformation, badly written headlines that confuse or misreport issues, clickbait that purposely misleads readers, and so on.
Another point Carvin brings up is that exclusively using social media to disseminate news — rather than using Twitter or Facebook only to point users to an external site — can help improve the situation for people who are less likely to click through to the actual article.
Many news organizations use their own social media presences to direct people away from those platforms and consume content elsewhere – visit their website, listen to their radio program, etc. I think too many of us have become complacent when it comes to serving social media users directly. So we’re creating a news room that’s basically embedded on various platforms, engaging users throughout the course of the day and working with them to figure out what’s going on around the world.
This becomes especially important when rumors run amok on social media – I think it becomes incumbent upon journalists to be active members of those communities to nip rumors in the bud and help them sort out what’s true and what’s not.
This quote helped me understand the point of the service a little more:
The specific focus is on providing context around breaking stories — or, as Browne put it, “organize the chaos. Because social media is chaos.”
Having to deal with the Charlie Hebdo attacks and all the rumors that came out shortly afterward showed some of the advantages of Reported.ly. The staff is adept at using social media, and has experience reporting on developing stories via Twitter, filtering out the misinformation during huge ongoing events like the Arab Spring.
I guess it remains to be seen whether internet users will prefer accurate reporting over sensational clickbait…