Andy Carvin launches social-media reporting team for First Look

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There’s been a lot of news out of First Look Media recently, although not the kind that the site was hoping to deliver: instead of scoops, it’s been a stream of reports about mismanagement and departures of key writers and editors like Matt Taibbi and John Cook. But despite the turmoil, former NPR staffer Andy Carvin says he has been hard at work hiring social-media “anchors” for an innovative global reporting team at First Look — a team that he launched on Monday.

The venture is called Reported.ly, and in a nutshell it will be doing an expanded version of what Carvin (who I consider a friend) did for NPR during the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and subsequent news events: the half dozen staff he has hired will be embedded in a variety of social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit and using them to report in real-time on breaking news stories and other important events. As Carvin put it:

A global team of anchors

The Reportedly team includes Malachy Browne, the former news editor at Storyful, who will be based in Dublin; Marina Petrillo, an Italian author and journalist, who will be based in Milan; freelance journalist and programmer Asteris Masouras, who will be based in Greece; Kim Bui, formerly of Digital First Media, who will be based in Los Angeles, and Wendy Carrillo, a former radio host and producer who will also be based in L.A. Leading the team will be Carvin, who is based out of his home in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

on Twitter during the Arab Spring

Because the idea of Reportedly is to have journalists or anchor/producers embedded in different social platforms and engaging directly with users there, the project doesn’t have a website yet, although it will be getting one. Carvin said that to begin with, the team will be using a Medium collection to talk about how the experiment is unfolding, and to brainstorm about the kind of journalism they want to do. But in the future, he hopes there will be a site that can act as a “central dashboard” where readers can see everything.

The buddy system

Carvin said the team will be structured as a “buddy system,” in which two of the anchor/producers will be working at one time — so he and Marina will take a shift, followed by Kim and Wendy, then Malachy and Asteris, and so on, so that the project will be able to cover as many time zones as possible. As stories emerge, more than one or two people could be pulled into it to help sift through the conversations going on on the various platforms, Carvin said.

Carvin said that the team have already started reaching out to journalism-related groups or users within the different platforms, including the moderators of the Syrian Civil War sub-Reddit and other sites like Grasswire and Bellingcat from investigative blogger Eliot “Brown Moses” Higgins. But Carvin also said fact-checking news reports was just part of what Reportedly wanted to do, and that the major focus would be on “working with the public to tell more diverse stories about what’s happening around the world.”

I asked Carvin for his take on the recent turmoil around the departures of Taibbi and Cook, and reports of micro-management at First Look, and he said he and his team haven’t experienced anything like what the staff of The Intercept wrote about in their story on the upheaval, although he did say that the explosion of coverage of those events made it hard for the members of the Reportedly team to keep their heads down and focus on what they were doing.

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