What skills do I need to have if I want to be an effective real-time news curator? Can I just pick the best headlines and links on my topic of interest or do I need to do know / do more? What makes a great news curator stand out from those who do automatic aggregation or from bloggers who create simple news stories lists?
Photo credit: thesuperph
In the previous parts of this Guide to Real-Time News Curation I have looked at what are the key problems giving way to the emergence of real-time news curation, at the differences between automatic aggregation and filtering and human-powered manual curation. I have also spent some time illustrating some real-world examples of both automated aggregation and human curated news content.
In Part 4 I have gone through the newsmaster workflow, the tasks and specific responsibilities and in Part 5, I am covering the key attributes, qualities and skills a successful real-time news curator must have.
To identify them I have been looking both at the experience I have gained with this practice in this last five years, as well as at the growing literature available online on this “content curation” topic.
Most people to whom I have shown, explained or illustrated the “newsmastering” workflow, as I like to call it, have missed to understand the value and potential of the curation process, by focusing too much on the technology aspect: how do you do it, where do you click, how do you publish it on your site, and so on.
In fact, while technology does play an important role in helping a curator find, aggregate, filter, curate and re-publish existing content, it is in the expertise and skills of the curator the opportunity to create meaning, make sense of disparate info and add value to a newly created “whole“.
What makes a successful “newsmaster” is therefore not the ability to maneveur freely with RSS feeds, aggregators and PHP includes, or having access to the latest content curation technology, but rather the level of passion and depth of interest for a specific subject matter, and the harmonious and coordinated application of a rare and multidisciplinary skillset. Something, I would hope, that will be soon taught in professional journalism and communication schools.
Therefore, if you have been wondering what are the specific skills and attributes a real-time news curator must have, I have devoted this section of the guide, to this very specific topic.
Here is what I have discovered:
“Tools permitting – and I’m not convinced the tools are out there yet – I think good curation is about the only way that digital publishers can successfully address the threat posed by Google and the like. To me, its about converting searchers to explorers.
Curators of good stories can create the opportunity for exploration – taking the user by the hand and leading them through a topic, rather than sending them back to Google.
This is something we began to measure and I can safely say that our stories that showed the user avenues to explore a topic dramatically outperformed our poorly curated efforts.
From the perspective of a site manager responsible for overall site profitability I can safely say that a focus on curation is the best way to convert a searcher to an explorer, which is critical to monetizing content.”
Comment by Stephen Newport to Curation and Journalists as Curators
“Aggregation closely resembles a laundry list of links that are automatically generated by specific meta data (think Google News). Curation involves someone filtering this aggregated content based on a distinct point of view about audience demographics, company brand, user experience and intended outcome.
Content curation isn’t just about passing along information. Rather, it involves creating an experience for the user, telling a story from multiple perspectives and providing analysis or explanation for why you chose a particular piece of content.
One museum curator compared curation to alchemy: When you bring together pieces of content (or museum exhibits), you transform them into something different and greater than the sum of the parts.”