tagged w/ content featuring
Last week I laid out details about our editorial team and guidelines when it comes to finding and featuring content on Current.com. Today we're launching a brand new community-based experiment built on top of our editorial practices which, for lack of a better name, I'm calling "Developing Stories."
What is a Developing Story?
This doesn't always hold true, but quite frequently we notice that stories we feature on Current.com actually speak to a larger, ongoing story in play. Sometimes these stories are stretched out over longer periods of time (e.g. the ongoing discussions around public options in healthcare reform, or the debates surrounding gay marriage), and other times these stories are developing rapidly over the course of hours (e.g. Elections 2009, Afghan presidential elections, or Michael Jackson's death).
Starting today, we'll begin identifying certain featured stories that we think have the opportunity to be "developed" further. These stories will be added to our Developing Stories group, and we'll clearly mark it as such on both the story page and whichever image is picked to accompany the story.
What does it mean to have a story picked as a Developing Story?
This is the cool part. Getting your story featured as a Developing Story is like having the stage handed over to you. We're looking to take a closer look at the underpinnings of these stories, and we're giving you the opportunity to take on the role of online investigative journalist in the process. As long as things continue to progress in a relevant way, your story will remain featured on Current.com.
OK, so how does all of this work?
Well, it's pretty simple actually. When a story is selected to feature as a Developing Story, the editor will add it to our Developing Stories group, and message you in a comment on your story with a link to some guidelines and tips to help you develop your story. Here's how you'll develop your story:
Follow your story: Keep a watchful eye for new developments regarding your story. Have there been new stories with different angles published? Another great approach is to investigate the subject matter addressed in your story, see where that takes you. You might discover a story that mainstream media hasn't picked up on yet.
Update to keep your story current: When you find updates, interesting supporting information, or new angles on the story you will need to update your original story with a revised headline, new information, new media (image or video), and links to the details. This is the important part: Do not submit an entirely new story, instead make your edits in the original story description and title. We want to develop the story within the original post that you submitted, and your changes will be reflected on the homepage immediately.
Archive old information: Your original story will still be limited to the 5000 character limit in the description, so you might find that you run out of room quickly. It would be a shame to lose your research, so archive older portions of the story in a comment on the thread below your original post. For example: Once Karzai was declared President, we no longer need to hold onto links and information about the chance of a runoff election. So copy and paste those paragraphs and URLs into a comment, and preface the comment with "STORY ARCHIVE." It's important to be able to see how the story progressed, and discussions might still branch off of these elements, so we don't want to lose them altogether.
Watch out!: The rest of the community is going to know that you are developing a story, and anyone interested in getting featured will be eligible to scoop you on your own story (more on this below). This means you'll need to stay on top of things as they develop.
Once a story has run it's course, we'll cycle it out of the featured rotation. But, keep an eye on the matter over time. If you happened to develop a story on gay marriage laws a week ago and a new development breaks in that story, it would be best to revisit your older story in development, update it with new information, and attempt to revive the story into featuring prominence.
I have a story, and I think it should be a Developing Story...What do I do?
Developing Stories are picked by the Current.com Editorial Team, but we are always open to suggestions. If you want to get your story on our radar for consideration, please tag it with "Current Developing Stories," "Developing Story," "Developing Stories," or "Current Developing Story" when you submit to Current.com. PLEASE NOTE: Tagging is not the same as adding to a group. The "Current Developing Stories" is a CLOSED group managed by the editors, so you will not be able to add stories there. Tagging, however, will allow you to be seen by our editors we will monitor that tag for potential stories to develop.
[Ed. Note -- Someone asked if we could use something simpler as a tag for these, something like "CDS" or "dev stories." The issue here is that these tags already correlate to other information. "CDS" represents that archaic music format known as the compact disc, and "dev stories" sounds like a variation on developer tales. I've added a few more options that we'll keep an eye on, but for now lets stick with these. Thanks]
But...does this mean that the same folks will always be featured?
Well, the possibility that our more proficient community members will take the spotlight for longer periods of time is very, very real. However, being featured as a Developing Story is by no means permanent. Think of the "Developing Story" banner as an alert that this type of story is on our radar. Someone might already be developing a health care reform story on the homepage, but they have to eat and sleep at some point. If you scoop developments in the story out from under them, you'll find your story swapped into the featured spot in place of the original poster.
Here's how that works:
Keep an eye on Developing Stories: Our group is the best place to get an indication of stories we are looking to develop. Visit it often, then hit the Interwebs and do a little investigating of your own. You never know, you might find an angle that the original poster didn't consider, and it might be your ticket to scooping the story out from under them.
Pitch your scoop to get it on our radar: We'll be following Developing Stories very closely, so if you find a potential scoop in a story, here's the best way to call it to our attention. First, submit an item with your scoop, and be sure to tag your story with "Current Developing Stories" and include a link to the Developing Story you're attempting to scoop in the description. Next, post a link to your scoop story in the comments on the Developing Story and clearly call out that this is an angle you think the story should take.
Now to be fair, this is an experiment. It isn't going to be perfect out of the gate, but it seems like an opportunity to open things up a bit more on Current.com and get a little friendly competition started. We rely on you for researched stories, so the more original and unique your angle is, the better chance it will have to become a Developing Story.
As I stated initially, not every story will be considered "Developing Story" potential, and we'll likely ease into this with only one or two stories a day at first, just to see how things go. Developing Stories are still subject to our editorial guidelines for featuring, so make sure you're up to speed on those. You may also want to keep in mind some of the recent changes made to our submission tool.
Sound good? Let us know what you think!Last week I laid out details about our editorial team and guidelines when it comes to... more
Earlier today one of our community members raised a question that immediately reminded me of a drafted post sitting in my to-do pile. So I dusted this sucker off and refreshed it with some new information for all to read. Over on the announcement of our new submission tool, 02 commented:
"You guys never put my submissions up at all. It would seem as though a plan were afoot to force only designated providers - while the promise is held as Bullshit."
This isn't a anything new; in general people get a little confused when it comes to what gets featured on Current.com. It's not uncommon to find out that people either don't understand, or worse, their misunderstanding leads them to believe that there is a secret agenda conspiring against them behind-the-scenes. Trust me, this is just not the case. Our editorial team is relatively small on Current.com, especially in comparison with some of the more editorially driven sites out there. We see Current.com as a joint partnership between our internal team, and the community that frequents the site. While we produce content for TV, the amount of content we produce for the web is fairly small in comparison with what our community produces on a daily basis. Here's how things shake out:
Each channel on Current.com has a corresponding online producer who is responsible for featuring content and producing content via blog posts and original video. If you don't know them yet, here's the list:
Shana Naomi Krochmal
Each channel has an editorialized section called a playlist. The playlist is at the top of the channel, and the first story in the playlist is featured on the homepage (in the first slot of the corresponding channel module). I've posted about this before, so get the full breakdown here. I manage this team, and together with some off hours help from the online community team we editorialize the featured sections on the Current.com homepage and the channels with a combination of community submitted stories and original Current content. When it comes to up-to-the-minute news and stories we look to you guys, the Current community. But I'm sure it would help considerably to understand what we look for exactly when featuring content. How do we make our decisions? What goes into the process?
When we pick stories for featuring, we look at a combination of things including: interesting-ness, popularity, relevance, and trending. These can seem fairly vague, so let me explain:
These are stories that are potentially under reported, but have unique angle that could spark worthwhile discussions.
These are ongoing mainstream stories that are also picking up page views, comments, and votes on Current. We take a look at these and determine which ones to feature throughout the day.
As expected, stories get repeatedly submitted from different sources outside of Current. When we find a story that is feature worthy, we consider whether or not the story is still relevant (timely), and we also take a look at the overall submissions on Current while asking the following questions:
Is this the first version of the story?
Is there a newer version of this story that has updates, developments, or new information?
Sometimes a story on Current is not popular with the mainstream crowd, but is picking up steam on Current via discussion, page views, and votes. We identify this trend and feature these stories.
Ok, this covers how we recognize stories in the system, but what about the barebones requirements for a story in order to be featured? Specifically, a story needs a title and a description to be submitted, but depending upon how you support your story may or may not include a piece of media (image, video, etc.) If a story doesn't have media, we can't feature it. If you pick a source without media, you could always pick something from the Creative Commons on Flickr (be sure to abide by Creative Commons licenses and give credit back to the photographer wherever applicable) or you could simply record a quick webcam and upload that with a link to the source in your story description. Additionally, some sources are quite simply better than others. If you submit a blog post from an unknown source with no links to factual research, you'll be less likely to get featured when compared to a story with deep links and research to back up the story. So, now that you have an idea about how we pick stories for featured spots on Current, let's look at 02's latest submission from 10 days ago. Here are the details: Anthropologist Peter McAllister: "The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male." This is a great story, and definitely could have been feature worthy based on interesting-ness given a couple circumstances. It doesn't fall into the popular designation, but that's OK. We love unique stories. Where it gets the hook is in the relevance department. You see the same story was already submitted to Current by another community member. Here's a search on the last name "McAllister" (sorted by most recent). As you can see, remanns version of the story preceded 02's by 5 days. If any version of the story were to be featured, it would've been remanns version because the two stories contain identical information. As it turns out, neither version of the story was actually featured, and this has to do with the trending portion of our process. Discussion on these two stories never really picked up, and both had relatively low votes and page views. When compared to other stories trending in the system at the time, both were seconded to other stories submitted that were a better fit with our featuring designations. There are a whole slew of variables that play into this process which can only add to the confusion for some of you out there. Here are some commonly asked questions: Q: "I see <$user>'s stories featured ALL. THE. TIME. Admit it, you play favorites."
I really wish there were an easy way to convey this to everyone, but the simple fact is that the more active (and attentive to breaking news) a community member is, the more likely their stories will be featured. Volume and timing is everything. We actively go out of our way consider stories from new or underrepresented members of the community. If you're a rock star at finding stories before everyone else, I'd ask that you share your tips with the rest of the crowd. Find someone in the community who isn't commonly featured and give them some pointers. Additionally, if you're finding yourself on the short end of the stick as far as featuring is concerned, look to some of the regular faces you see in the featured spots. Go ahead, message them, ask them for pointers, or just make a friend. One thing is certain, the more you put into the system on a regular basis, the more likely you'll find yourself featured on the homepage.
Q: "Why do you guys push all content down that doesn't fall in line with your agenda?"
It's easy to believe that something like this is true, but it's just not in line with reality. First, we don't have an agenda in play when selecting stories. We routinely hang all personal biases up at the door with our coats when we come into work. True, we select stories to feature based on the criteria I listed before, but we do not actively push content down in popularity. Period. There are typically two reasons why content appears to be pushed down: It is voted down by the community. It is improperly added to groups that it shouldn't be. For example, a story about marijuana legalization added to News, Music, Movies, Green, Tech, and Comedy will commonly get removed from Music, Movies, Green, Tech, and Comedy.
Q: "I added this story already, why isn't mine featured?"
Many times this can come down some of our minimum requirements. As I mentioned before, there are times when a story has newly developing information, or there has been an update to the larger story (different angle, etc.). In these cases we will feature a newer version of the story, tweak the title of the original post (depending upon whether or not the story is still relevant), or unfeature it altogether if neither option works. If you are an avid contributor to Current.com, there could be cases where you are already featured for one story, and we wish to feature another story that you also happened to submit before anyone else. In these cases we might make an exception and feature another lesser known community member despite your story being technically first.
Q: "You changed my title, what gives?"
In previous posts I've mentioned that we will update headlines to meet AP Style, but on occasion we also need to actually re-word a title because a story has changed and no new story has been published to reflect the change, the title is just plain wrong, or the title leaves out key information about the discussion/story submitted. In these cases we always reach out to the original poster and notify them of the change via comment on the item (so everyone else can see) or via private message.
Q: "I thought featured stories were for news, why is [enter story type here] featured? I demand it be pulled!"
This is one question that will not go away, but I'll state again that "Current Stories" (on the Current.com homepage) is not strictly dedicated to news content. If it's news you want, then Current News is the place to be. Make it your homepage, and you'll never be the wiser to the varied mix of stories in "Current Stories." For those of you who don't mind the occasional crunch berry in your Capt. Crunch, you'll find that we feature a variety of stories ranging from recent episodes or sneak peeks of Current TV content alongside any story that meets our featuring criteria on Current regardless of type or group.
Q: "So, with all of these online producers blogging and producing video, does that mean Current is less about community contributions now?"
No, not at all. Our online producers are here to provide a bit of direction in some ways, while making sure that areas like News are not overrun with Britney Spears-style news. In addition, some of our more tradition aspects of community contribution will be making their way into each channel as time goes on. For example, The Rotten Tomatoes Show is closely aligned with Movies, and the show is largely comprised of community webcam reviews of the prior week's releases. If you want to participate and potentially get on TV, well then Current Movies is the place to hang out. John is also brewing up a Current Movies-specific plan involving written movie reviews, so keep an eye out for that as well. Shana just posted about Common's video pick from the "Make Common's Day" call out on the Current Music blog. This was sort of like a hybrid between a VCAM and a VC2 piece, where producers created a video for Common using greenscreen footage he shot while visiting the Current offices in LA. Andrew is prepping to embark on a deep Current News investigation that will include REQUIRE the participation of news-minded community members both on and off Current.com in order to be successful. He's finalizing the topic for the investigation, and a look at some of his recent blog posts will clue you into the direction that's taking shape. When this is fully underway, he'll lay out the details on the Current News blog. Lastly, when these folks blog they are pulling from both community contributions on Current AND content from our TV network. Think of these blog posts as our online playground where you're guys' content gets married to Current TV content -- all contextualized under trends going on in our world. And most importantly, Current community members are the key to making it all happen.
So, there it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps explain some of the question you, and others, may have about the site. We're going to be doing a lot of growing over the next few months, and we want you along for the ride. As always, shoot feedback and recommendations our way via comments here or posts on Get Satisfaction. Thanks for reading and contributing. Earlier today one of our community members raised a question that immediately... more
We get questions about our featuring and editorial practices on a regular basis. So, it felt like the right time to open the doors, spell out our policies, and make sure everyone understands what goes on behind closed doors with regards to editorial decisions. Here's a snippet from the blog post:
"Our editorial team is relatively small on Current.com, especially in comparison with some of the more editorially driven sites out there. We see Current.com as a joint partnership between our internal team, and the community that frequents the site. While we produce content for TV, the amount of content we produce for the web is fairly small in comparison with what our community produces on a daily basis."
To read the details behind our processes and guidelines, please make the jump over to the blog post.
Featuring on Current: What do we look for? — [Editorial Guidelines] -- Current.com Blog
L'ecrivain by gilles chiroleu on Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/porcherie/3192488394/?editedcomment=1#comment72157622696422188We get questions about our featuring and editorial practices on a regular basis. So,... more