According to Dick Costello Twitter has social curation for journalists in mind:
“We have known for a long time that when events happen in the real world, the shared experience is on Twitter and we want to create an ability to curate events,” he said.
One unresolved issue they are grappling with is whether an “algorithmically curated experience is a better experience than an editorially curated experience.”
“We haven’t decided internally the answer to that,” he said.
But one thing they know is when you filter a stream so that it only shows the most popular tweets, ”You lose the roar of the crowd.”
It’s unclear exactly what Costello is talking about. But what seems the most likely, to my mind at least, interpretation of his comments is that he wants to build a tool that would allow a journalist or editor to quickly surface and publish Twitter updates from anyone to some platform in a way so as to enhance the story being told.
Two questions then emerge from the (potential) existence of such a tool:
1) What journalistic measure does a Tweet need to clear in order to be included? This is something that will, of course, vary from one newsroom to the next but there will have to be someone who makes the gut decision that this Tweet meets the curation standards and that one does not. Even if some sort of algorithm were to be in place on Twitter’s side that could help there needs to be a human editor there making that call since, as we all know, algorithms aren’t perfect.
2) How much editing out of the “roar of the crowd” is too much before you start to cut into bone, so to speak, and lose all the flavor? In other words, if a story is so interesting that so many people are talking about it, how much can you filter out that stream before you start to lose the very reason it’s interesting?
There are plenty of other questions that would arise from such a tool being in place. But it’s important to note that even without it this kind of thing is being done in newsrooms around the country even as we speak as journalists and editors look for key conversation points that add depth, nuance and relatability to the stories they’re producing.
It’s reasonable to assume that this isn’t something Twitter would be doing out of the kindness of its heart. Instead it would very likely be a paid tool that would have advertising – which the news organization itself may or may not benefit from – included in some manner. And it remains to be seen whether this would be a one-size-fits-all type of offering or something that a news org could have custom built.
This is all, of course, speculation at this point. But the idea of making it easier for journalists to curate citizen Twitter updates is one that should be attractive to Twitter, which gets to increase its ties to the news organizations it has shown signs of loving so much, and the media, which gets to tap into the immediacy and personal nature of these Tweets and the depth and flavor they can add to a story, something that theoretically turns that news org into an increasingly popular destination for the reader.