Verification as Journalism

The following are notes from Verification Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Verifying Digital Content for Emergency Coverage – A great resource (pdf is free)

Verify – The process of establishing the truth, accuracy, or validity of something.

“We should be more transparent about what we know and don’t know. We should actively address rumors being circulated online. Rather than pretending they’re not circulating, or that they’re not our concern, we should tackle them head-on, challenging the public to question them, scrutinize them, understand where they might have come from, and why.” – Andy Carvin

Verification employs a mix of three factors (by Steve Buttry):

  1. A person’s resourcefulness, persistence, skepticism and skill
  2. Sources’ knowledge, reliability and honesty, and the number, variety and reliability of sources you can find and persuade to talk
  3. Documentation

Basic Steps of Verification

1. Provenance: Is this the original piece of content?

2. Source: Who uploaded the content?

3. Date: When was the content created?

4. Location: Where was the content created?

Tips and Tools for Verification

Look at original source of information (ie Twitter profile) and ask:

  • Does person use full name?
  • Who are they?
  • What organization or business are they connected to?
  • What is the intent of sharing this information?
  • Is the account “verified?”
  • What other kinds of information have they shared in the past?
  • Look for their other social media accounts or websites.

Use Tweetdeck to monitor Twitter. It is easier to search and build a body of evidence, rather than just seeing retweets of same information.

Be aware of scams and fakes ( http://www.lemmetweetthatforyou.com/) and of the scam busters (http://www.snopes.com/)

Who owns that website? https://whois.net/

Reverse Image search Google Reverse Image Search and https://www.tineye.com/

Geo search tool for YouTube videos

Verification Exercise:

Can you verify the following information?

  1. Photo of soldiers standing guard during Hurricane Sandy at Tomb of Unknown Solider, Arlington VA

377457_10151202408468236_1645987525_n_custom-5bdd807df69f4fb14a71f6894287532e5b7d97ed-s800-c85

2. Giant beach ball rolling down the streets of London during a storm

13829588426261895677466c3e5fb29fa65956c40d381-mediumoriginalaspectdouble

3. Tweet about Syrian refugees arriving in New Orleans, LA. 

4. Photo of shark in streets of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy

Shark swimming in flooded US streets after Hurricane Sandy

5. Video of shark in streets of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy

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About Nick DiUlio

My name is Nick DiUlio, a freelance writer and editor from New Jersey. I have been passionate about the craft of writing since I was old enough to spell, and this love has led to a successful career in journalism and creative nonfiction. As a freelancer, I have covered a wide range of topics and personalities, as my published work has focused on everything from profiles of artists and important political figures to hard-news stories with both national and local appeal; from restaurant and beverage reviews to tips on fashion and finance; from health and wellness pieces to celebrity Q&A’s. My work has appeared in several local, regional and national publications—both in print and online—including Philadelphia Magazine, Slate.com, Miller-McCune, New Jersey Monthly, Eating Well, and Delaware Today. Additionally, I am the South Jersey Bureau Chief for New Jersey Monthly and an adjunct journalism professor at Rowan University. To be sure, the broadness of my body of work seems only to be matched by my boundless interest in almost every subject imaginable (except Warren Zevon). Check out some of my most recently published work here.
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