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Curating Curation

I recently started a journalism course at City University and my first official lecture was given by digital journalism guru Paul Bradshaw. In it he repeatedly used the term ‘curation’ in a way which I had never encountered before. Don’t curators work in museums? Somewhat perplexed, at the end of the lecture I asked if he could define it. To which he said that curation “is what journalists do anyway”.

I vaguely understood what he meant but still didn’t really feel as though I’d grasped the concept to any degree of confidence. So, I started to have a look online and see what kind of discussions were going on around the subject of curation in the journalistic sense. Based on my searches, this is my 5 point guide to curation, which in itself is an example of curation. Pretty meta eh?

1) What is curation?

TED talks are generally pretty enlightening and this one from Steven Rosenbaum, established broadcast journalist and film producer, is no exception. Although it is 15 minutes long, it is well worth watching all the way through. Rosenbaum gives a clear description of curation as well as a potted history on the term itself.

2) Why do we need curators?

Now there will probably be some who will sneer at the idea of curation and just not see it as necessary at all. Why do you need somebody to tell you what to read or watch online? Well, as our good friend Steve Rosenbaum explains in his article Stop Knocking Curation, there is far too much dross out there for people to be able to reliably and consistently find the good stuff on their own. Throw into the mix some rogue curators acting purely to satisfy their own desires, such as advertisers, and you have a confusing mix. Good curators cut a path of great content out of the dense and tangled web that is the internet.

Betterdefinitionofcuration

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3) Isn’t ‘Curation’ just a buzz-word then?

Once the value of curation has been established it becomes very easy to connect the role of the curator in journalism to that of, for instance, the curator of works of art in an art gallery.  This article by online news strategist, Adam Schweigert explains this more fully and nicely connects the digital journalism definition of curation given by Paul Bradshaw with the museums definition I had previously attached to the word.

4) What does curation look like?

A nice example of a piece of curation is the Guardian Film section’s Clip Joint Series in which readers pick 5 film clips based upon a specific unifying aspect. Each clip includes a little blurb about it by the selector explaining why they chose it. This blurb is a vital aspect of the curation process because it ‘adds value’. It isn’t just a cold list of links but an article. It has a personality and thus becomes a new piece of media in itself.

5) How will being a curator help me out?

So, how does ‘curating’ enhance your digital profile? And why should you care if you don’t want to be a journalist? Curation is a great way of building up respect. Once people have seen your curated content and decided that it’s good, (this does require it to be good) then they are more likely to trust you in the future and follow you on Twitter. You will stand out from the crowd. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a video of Professor of Journalism, Jay Rosen, to back me up.

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2 comments on “Curating Curation

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This entry was posted on October 9, 2013 by in Community Engagement, Social Media and tagged , , .
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