“Digital news curator” is not a job title that existed two decades ago. Yet, in 2022, it is a job that legacy media veterans are flocking to. Why? Because, according to Doug Criss, a digital news curator for Facebook, more and more people are consuming their news through social media.
Criss’ 17 year-old son is news literate, but he doesn’t watch major news channels or read any newspapers. His entire news diet is consumed online. It’s a little scary to think that the next generation entering the workforce is being informed on current events through TikTok, but that’s exactly why it is important to have designated news curators to sift through fake news and misinformation.
What is a Digital News Curator?
Digital news curation is a process by which a team of people working for a social media site such as Facebook researches the news of the day and chooses accurate, credible sources to post on a news tab on the site. For Facebook, the team is only half of the equation. The other half is an algorithm created to curate relevant news tailored to an individual according to lifestyle, interaction with certain posts and pages, etc.
“People have so much access to news now, so much more information than they could before, Criss said. “It’s almost like a firehose of information, and people appreciate having someone there to put up a filter and guide them to the best news.”
Ahead of the Curve
Legacy media have not been as quick to implement changes such as adding digital news curation which is why companies like Facebook continue to stay ahead of the curve.
“The difference between Facebook and everywhere else is how they change things on a dime,” Criss said.
For instance, when COVID hit the globe, Facebook elevated data and posts from the CDC and WHO. Of course, Facebook has the resources to put plans like this into action, whereas traditional news organizations have tight budgets and are therefore slower to enact changes. Criss lived through the crisis the journalism industry experienced in the mid 2000’s, surviving three rounds of lay-offs at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution while working as a copy desk chief.
Criss is in a much different situation now. The curation team is growing rather than cutting back. With the inception of the department as recently as Oct. 2019, there is plenty of room for expansion and innovation.
“As more people get news from social media, there will be more job openings,” Criss said.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
With an expanding market, innovative ideas, and an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of journalism in the tech age, you might ask: how do I get a job in this field?
Criss explained that there are openings for internships and full-time positions. You can get in touch with a hiring manager through the Facebook app or by sending an email to someone in that department. Facebook is looking for people who have some experience in the newsroom, but more importantly, people who are adaptable and ready to learn.
“They’re looking for people who are curious, comfortable with technology and comfortable with change,” Criss said.
Along with creativity and adaptability, certain hard skills such as writing are crucial, and newer skills such as being able to track sources on social media are integral for digital news curation.