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Curating of legal social media

February 23, 2011

Bill Pollak, CEO of American Lawyer Media, shared more of his thinking on the curating of social media in a blog post this morning.

…I think ALM’s journalists can play in curating other people’s writings in order to help our audience find the most important, most meaningful or most interesting content available on the web. The fact is that the role of a good editor has never been more important — the amount of information available to any one of us has become so overwhelming that having someone we trust do that curation for us could be quite valuable.

Pollak’s point is that a reporter can curate content from various social media sources, including Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube, and Flickr.

So imagine you are a reporter assigned to cover the state bar association’s annual convention. Traditional practice would have you walk the halls of the conference and corner people for good quotes. And attend the key presentations, to pull out the main messages that are worth reporting on. Plus, if you are armed with a camera, you could take a few pictures.

Such original reporting wouldn’t necessarily be eliminated per Pollak, but curation allows the inclusion of much more content.

…Twitter or Facebook comments posted by attendees, photos that may have been posted to Flickr, links to videos that some ambitious attendee put up on YouTube, excerpts from bloggers who are also writing about the convention, etc. All designed to add more color or more voices to the story you are writing.

Why curate? Audience demands for new ways to tell stories seem to be on the rise — plus there’s growing acceptance of social media as a source for news, per Pollak.

I’m a big fan of curation, or at least where it appears to be headed, for the same reason as Pollak. Curation of legal content will help people discover the most meaningful content and people. ALM is sitting on a golden asset – talented writers, editors, and publishers who can use their journalism skills to identify and curate the best in legal commentary.

It’s impossible for a traditional legal publisher to cover and provide relevant commentary on niche issues as well as they can be covered by people with domain expertise. In the law, it’s lawyers publishing for collaborative learning and to enhance their reputations who have the passion, insight, and expertise to cover niches.

We launched on a new blog on The LexBlog Network yesterday covering real estate, mineral rights, and estate planning issues arising out of the Marcellus Shale Formation in Pennsylvania (Marcellus Shale Law Monitor). No one could reasonably expect a traditional legal publisher to launch a publication on such a niche. It requires too much expertise and it’s too far down the ‘long tail’ to demand an audience beyond a niche audience.

But building a network of lawyers publishing on such niches and highlighting their blog posts and Twitter feeds in a curated environment solves some problems for everyone.

As a publisher, I start to have good coverage on niche issues. For those with an interest in legal matters, I can find the best content and discover the best publishers on such niches. And as a niche publisher I get additional exposure for my publishing.

And at the end of the day, social media, like Pollak says, is becoming a trusted source for news.