Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Real-Time News Curation - The Complete Guide Part 4: Process, Key Tasks, Workflow

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What are the tasks involved in the real-time news curation process? What does exactly a news curator do?

Photo credit: Carl Swahn
In Part 1 of this Curation Guide I have explained the reasons why news curation has become a necessity. Part 2 was devoted to explain the difference between automatic news aggregation and human-powered manual curation. In Part 3 I have curated a visual list of both aggregated and curated news examples so that you can have a better idea of what news curation really looks like. I have also recently updated it with some visual maps to make navigation and browsing even easier.

In Part 4 of this Complete Guide to Real-Time News Curation I am presenting, what I have identified so far as being the key tasks a real-time news curator, must attend to. (I am more than interested in expanding and refining this initial list, with your kind suggestions and feedback as I like consider to consider this guide more of an ongoing work in progress rather than a definitive static reference.)

My goal with this, is one of sharing with you my own discoveries on this topic, as I truly believe that news curation offers not only a great opportunity for subject matter experts to create additional value, but also a much bigger opportunity for society as a whole Internet to start making greater sense of the uncoherent and hard-to-follow mass of information that we have are publishing online.

Here is what I have found out:

"I believe that there is a role for trusted curators of news, people who have unique access or unique insight, who can get to news more quickly than anybody else, or dive into it more deeply."

Louis Gray - The Five Stages of Filtering

"The role of journalist changes from one of content creation to one of content curation. From telling a story to curating a conversation. From finding sources to enabling people. From news organizations to news platforms. From selling ads to adding value.

The stories of our world are already being told in countless public, archivable, searchable and discoverable ways. What's missing now is not someone to hunt stories down, but rather to weave them into a narrative. What's missing is not the information, but the expertise to connect the dots and cut through the noise to find the meaningful and the important."

Chris Saad - Real-Time Storytelling


Which are the key tasks a real-time news curator has to be responsible for?

I have received a lot of emails from readers asking to illustrate more clearly what the actual typical tasks of a news curator are, and what are the tools that someone would need to use to carry them out.

In Part 4 and 5 of this guide I am looking specifically at both the workflow, the tasks involved as well as at the attributes, qualities and skills that a newsmaster, or real-time news curator should have.


The Real-Time News Curator Workflow

1. Identify Niche


Identify your specific topic-theme. The more specific, the better. The broader your coverage the less relevant it will be to your readers, unless you are already a very popular individual that people trust on a number od different topics. As news, information and general content keeps growing in quantity, highly curated niche news streams on specific topics-themes are what people are going to be increasingly asking for to keep themselves super-informed on the topics that matter most to them.


2. Select - Identify Sources


Search, explore and identify your initial key news sources. These may include specific news sites, blogs, RSS feeds, open persistent searches, Twitter channels, Facebook pages and more. As a matter of fact this should be an "ongoing" process, whereby such sources are periodically reviewed, refreshed and updated with new ones while vetting or filtering more accurately those too broad or noisy ones.


3. Setup Search Framework


Set-up and configure a pre-set number of searches on major search engines, Twitter and social media sites to monitor, gather and find relevant new material on your topic of interest. These searches cover the key sub-topics, people and issues that are "hot" in your selected niche. It is best to create "open persistent searches" for each one of these so that one can simply subscribe to the RSS feeds that each one of these searches generates.


4. Reach Out - Network


Reach out and network with reporters, journalists, passionate users, influencers and experts in your topic niche. Expose these people to your news curation work and see how you can provide valuable feedback and support to some of these people projects. Offer them opportunity to contribute to your curation work. Link, refer and credit them whenever possible.


5. Aggregate


Bring together all of the RSS feeds from your selected news sources and open searches into your "newsmastering" - aggregation engine and generate a "master" feed that aggregates in one stream all of the new content being published.


6. Filter


Create and apply custom filters to the incoming content feeds to eliminate junk content and other unwanted, unfitting content. Filters should be intelligently applied both to individual incoming streams/feeds as well as to the overall "master feed" to keep maximum control to exclude spam, fake articles and other low-quality content.


7. Select Stories


Choose the individual stories, pointers and reports that qualify for publication. This is a picking and selecting task that is meant to aim for few, high-quality, highly relevant and curated selections rather than large quantities of broad, uncurated ones.


8. Verify


Always verify the source of each of your selected stories and the information therein provided for accuracy. Verify key links and original authorship.


9. Edit


Edit, correct, amend. Add an intro if needed, summarize the key content being covered, review for errors and overlooks. Reference, comment.


10. Provide Context


Provide more context whenever possible by working on title and / or on the news description-intro. To provide more context in the title, identify and add a set of few keywords that specifically identify the topic-context you want to highlight. More context can also be provided by assigning each news story to a specific news group, channel, collection category or series of posts.


11. Spin


Add your own perspective, opinion, take on the information or story you are sharing and highlighting why it is relevant for your own "context" (niche, audience, interests). Spin, intended as a positive and constructive way to add your "perspective" to any information, has very high value. Spinning is often the delta between simple re-publishers / re-tweeters and a true curator - newsmaster.


12. Title


Use the title to "frame" and provide immediate context, focus and value-benefit for each of the news stories you curate. Avoid traditional journalistic approaches and catchy titles - go for the essence of the information you are presenting. Often the original title doesn't do justice to this because the story was intended for a different audience, public or framed to highlight other elements of a story. Once that content is floating out there online it is open to re-framing and re-contextualization in any possible way that other individuals see fit.


13. Credit


Provide full credit to sources, authors and contributors whenever possible. Crediting consistently helps increase trustworthiness and respect from readers, while making yourself visible to those same people you are crediting and which are likely to be the influencers in your space.


14. Sequence


Sequence your selected news stories to provide the most valuable information reading experience to your readers. Time is not always the best sequencing variable. It all depends on what you want to cover and the type of stories that you have available. For example to provide a curated news channel on a tragic event it may be better to continually re-sequence stories so that the earliest ones provide the key news info about the event as well as the best in-depth background stories, though in reality these two types of stories may come out at very different times.


15. Organize

Classify and archive your curated news stream by assigning each one to one or more specific categories or tags, so that they can be easily retrieved, found and reused for other publication purposes.


16. Update


Update periodically with new fresh content.


17. Disclose


Be upfront about your focus, mission and personal profile information. Disclose as much as this info as possible letting your readers-subscribers know what is your topic, perspective or editorial take on it and your specific background and expertise. Make commercial partnerships and sponsors you have, publicly known.


18. Syndicate


Distribute and syndicate your curated news channel (what I call a "newsradar") on relevant online channels, including social networks, aggregated news channels, your blog / newsletter / site and other content distribution channels avialble.


19. Feedback - Reply


Invite and pay attention to feedback, suggestions and contributions coming in from your subscribers, readers, followers. Integrate their best advice and give exposure and reward to those that help you find and curate information better. Create synergies and collaborate with them. Develop online distributed newsrooms on specific topics.


20. Track - monitor


Track and monitor visitors, preferences, time spent, link followed and re-distributed by your readers. Analyze data and identify trends. Improve your curation service accordingly.


21. Refine and Improve


Keep refining and improving all of these tasks, starting with the updating of the news sources from time to time up to the updating and reviewing of user feedbacks and responses. Rinse and repeat from point 1.

There are likely more tasks and elements to the news curator workflow that I have been able to identify right here. One that comes to mind is for example packaging of the curated news stream, which I think is not only an essential element, but an area in which we will see much growth in the near future.

Please feel free to suggest in the comment area, what you think should be added to this set of tasks.


Examples - Demonstrations of Curation Steps and Workflow

Storify Demo - Real-Time Curation


Eddy Real-Time News Curation - Basic Process of Real-Time News Curation


Example Visual of Steps For Twitter Curation Process With Eddy



Introducing Curata a real-time news curation engine and how it works


Personal Curation and Content Distribution Setup - Teemu Arina and Dicole Associates



Suggested Further Readings



End of Part 4 - Process, Key Tasks, Workflow

Coming up next in this Complete Guide to Real-Time News Content Curation:
In Part 5 - The Curator Attributes And Skills
In Part 6 - The Tools Universe
In Part 7 - Business Applications and Trends
In Part 8 - Legal issues

Already published:

Part 1 - Real-Time News Curation, Newsmastering and Newsradars - Why We Need It

Part 2 - Real-Time news Curation: Aggregation is Automated, Curation is Manual

Part 3 - Real-Time News Curation - The Complete Guide Part 3: Types And Real-World Examples

Originally written and "curated" by with the editorial help of Elia Lombardi and first published on MasterNewMedia on September 29th, 2010 as "Real-Time News Curation - The Complete Guide Part 4: Process, Key Tasks, Workflow "

Photo credits:
1. Identify your Niche - mattjeacock
3. Setup the Search framework - chaoss
4. Reach - Network - Chris Lamphear
5. Aggregate - gudrun_anna
6. Filter - dlerick
7. Select Stories - DNY59
9. Edit - Curate - Kmitu
10. Provide Context - John Blossom
11. Spin - shapecharge
12. Title - Janaka Dharmasena
14. Sequence - jgroup
15. Organize - 3DStock
16. Update - DNY59
18. Syndicate - Leontura
19. Feedback - Reply - 3d_kot
20. Track - monitor - Vlad Susoy
21. Refine and Improve - TommL

Robin Good -
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posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, September 29 2010, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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