Storify Story Of The Year: A detailed inventory of reporter arrests at Occupy protests

Free Press' Josh Stearns combines the craftsmanship of traditional journalism with the latest tools of new media to contribute an important and lasting piece of enterprise journalism.


  1. "I have been tracking, confirming and verifying reports of journalist arrests at Occupy protests all over the country since September," begins Josh Stearns' story Tracking Journalist Arrests at Occupy Protests Around The Country. 

    His story, selected as our Story Of The Year by Storify users, was an effort that evolved over weeks and months, preserving what would otherwise be lost in the social media flood. Three-dozen arrests that could have been forgotten or misrepresented instead became a part of the larger Occupy story, clearly identifying one of the key questions about how law enforcement was handling the protests. 

    Stearns is journalism and public media campaign director for Free Press, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. 
  2. Here is his story, the Storify Story Of The Year, as selected by our users. 
  3. Here Stearns discusses his motivation to track reporter arrests, and why he did so with Storify. "It really paints a whole picture, rather than just being a series of links," he says. "You get to see journalists ... being tackled by police, shouting that they're press in video they took as they're being arrested."
  4. Stearns on Storify and Journalist Arrests
  5. Storify users selected Stearns' story by clicking the Like button on his story more than on any other. Dozens of stories received votes from readers around the world. 
  6. No. 2 in the voting was another ambitious and encyclopedic piece of journalism. Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa's widely praised 2011 Timeline of Protest, Revolution and Uprising is a lasting resource about a year of protest that swept across the world. Here is that story:
  7. His story begins:
  8. To follow how the Arab Spring symbolically began, we must go back to the end of 2010

    Tunisia: December 17th,
    Mohamed Bouazizi sets himself on fire in Tunisia after repeated harassment from police who confiscated his fruit and vegetable cart, claiming he didn’t have a permit. Bouazizi’s self-immolation is widely considered the event that help propel the Arab Spring into motion. 

    Translation of Mohamed Bouazizi’s last message on his Facebook Wall: " target="_blank"> 

    “I’m leaving, mom, I beg your pardon, any blame is useless, I am lost in a path out of my control, pardon me if I disobeyed you, blame our times, don’t blame me, I’m leaving forever, I’ll not be back, I am fed up crying without tears, blames are useless during these cruel times in this place, I’m tired and I forgot all about the past, I’m leaving while asking myself if my departure will help me forget”

    December 24th, a protester named Mohamed Ammari is shot dead in Tunisia.
  9. In third place was Glenda Kwek's Riots In The U.K., a powerful collection of tweets and photos from the summer unrest in London. Kwek is a reporter for Australia's Sydney Morning Herald. 

    "These stories highlight how social media makes journalism better, and helps bring stories alive through the voices of the people who were there," said Storify co-founder Burt Herman. "The winners bring together the best of journalism traditions and new media, weaving together narratives that give context and insight to the normally scattered stream of social media."

    Stearns wins an iPad 2 for being the top vote-getter in the Story Of The Year voting. 
  10. One voter for the award was also randomly selected to win another iPad. That voter was Jason Barnett, executive director of The UpTake, which merges online tools to assist citizen journalists. He voted for Stearns' story in the tweet below. 

  11. Storify, a free social media journalism platform is used by some of the biggest publishers in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, Al Jazeera, and many others.