Mark Little Sets out Stall for Storyful

A former journalist and presenter with Ireland’s public service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Mark Little is spearheading a new digital news initiative called Storyful.

Due to launch this summer, we have already been given a glimpse of the type of offering we can expect from Storyful through its link-up earlier this year with for the Portraits of the Global Irish series.

In a blog post today, Little outlines his vision for Storyful.

I wanted to find a way to fish the useful stories about our lives from that unholy torrent of internet debris.

He talks about ‘filter failure’ and how users have shifted away from personalised news towards searching to discover or find stories.

What lies behind the shift from search to discovery is the emotional charge that comes with an unexpected find. You know that feeling, that distinct jolt, when you come across an image or idea in all the clutter that speaks to you.

A word you hear bandied about a lot by news pioneers these days is serendipity. Expect to hear a lot more of it as we try and resolve ‘filter failure’.

Little says the companies who guide their users to unexpected places are the ones who will survive.

As I’ve mentioned here before there is a lot we can learn from existing platforms to help us with future ones like Google suggested with Fast Flip.

Digital media companies have something to learn from newspapers in how they organise and categorise discovery.

But the parallels with newspapers may end there as Little says we must also learn from the mistake made by ‘old’ media.

We should model our solutions on how real people talk about information that matters to them. They don’t spend alloted times of the day discussing politics and sport. They don’t schedule gossip for half an hour in between a chat about money and a debate on the arts.

Instead, they tell stories about many things, at the very same time. This is how they consume information relevant to their lives. This is how they will consume useful and relevant digital journalism.

This is the clearest indication of how Storyful is going to unfold:

The ultimate responsibility for discovering useful information now lies in the hands of real people not appointed gatekeepers.

Journalists will ultimately lose control over the flow, direction and timing of the news. Instead, they will guide their communities on a voyage of discovery and curate the stories that resonate along the way.

Some of that sounds similar to work being done out in Honolulu by former Rocky Mountain News’ editor/publisher John Temple (backed by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar) with Civil Beat (see my post from the weekend), except that project is more locally focused than I think we can expect from Storyful.

It’s an interesting blog post from Little – sounds like it could be the Storyful manifesto? The one missing thing is revenue – where is it going to come from?



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