Talking about digital verification

On April 10, I presented a session on digital verification at the Midwest Journalism Conference in Minneapolis.

My Digital Verification slideshow from the Midwest Journalism Conference, with some extra notes on some slides. Feel free to download and share the training with your colleagues or students.

I promised to post the slides from my session. Always live up to your promises.

Social media isn’t in its infancy anymore, but often journalists don’t think the same way about it as they would about what they hear in an interview or at an event. There’s a lot of information floating around out there on social media, and — horrors! — a lot of it just isn’t true.

When you use information from social media in a story, you need to treat that information like you would any news tip that comes to your newsroom. Would you automatically publish something that was called in to the newsroom? The answer probably is “it depends on what the tip is and who called it in (and if you’re sure that the person on the phone is who they say they are).”

Treat information from social media the same way. If you are aggregating tweets about a snow storm in your city while the storm is happening, and the tweets are coming from your city, you probably don’t need to do a lot of verification. Make sure the photos are original and not from the blizzard ins 2011.

But, again, it depends on the content of the tweet. A tweet that says cars are sliding on Main Street is a lot different from one that says a house collapsed under the weight of snow and two people are trapped inside.

If the topic is something that needs reporting, the fact that someone tweeted about it doesn’t mean you can skip the reporting.

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