The problem with the way journalists deliver news in social media, according to Andy Carvin, is that they're not actually delivering the news.
Instead, the former NPR social media strategist says, they use social to redirect audiences to the news organization's main product, whether that's self-hosted video or text on a website.
He and the rest of the team at First Look Media's new initiative, Reported.ly, are out to break that trend.
Officially launched this week, the publication exists solely on a variety of social media platforms. Right now, its URL redirects to a Medium page. And, while it will eventually have a website, that portal essentially will serve as a home base for all of Reported.ly's efforts online instead of being the main publication.
"It's being structured in reverse," Carvin explained. "The website is pushing people [more] outward than inward."
First Look president John Temple said Carvin came to the organization with an idea of creating a social media-based publication, which is what convinced the group to bring him on board. The leadership worked with Carvin and First Look executive editor Bill Gannon to fine-tune what would eventually become Reported.ly.
"We think Andy's vision—of curating eyewitness and expert perspectives, filtering it in real time and allowing people to provide perspectives from right where they are—is exciting," Temple said.
Carvin, best known as NPR's senior social strategist from 2006 to 2013, said he understands that not every reader is social media savvy. But Reported.ly is hoping to cater to a core audience that's extremely active on social, while using the strength of each platform as a tool for reporting.
For example, Reported.ly has a subreddit—called r/reportedly—where it will work with Redditors to report news. It won't simply link to stories it has created elsewhere, but will actively ask questions to the community to crowdsource stories, determine what topics interest its readers and share ways to get involved in causes.
There are, of course, cautionary tales of investigative-minded Redditors going rogue in the past—most notably during the Boston bombing, where several users tried to determine the identity of the attackers. That effort led to innocent people being named as bombing suspects and did not help authorities catch the real culprits.
"I think Reddit is uncharted territory," he said. "Most news organizations often exploit it for tips, but are more than happy to mock it if they make mistakes. There are large swaths of Reddit that are going to do their own thing, but there are also huge communities of smart, creative people who have huge expertise."
Right now, there are no discussions about opening up the news outlet's space for advertising, Carvin said. It could be a challenge in the future since many social media platforms only allow for limited ways to monetize through advertising or don't allow for it at all.
The publication was reportedly given a six-figure investment by First Look, created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, so for now it seems Reported.ly can experiment without worrying too much about funds.