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The Origins and Evolution of Fact-Checking, and The New Urgency of Verification
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The Origins and Evolution of Fact-Checking, and The New Urgency of Verification

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A presentation delivered at AEJMC 2014, this provides a brief history of fact-checking, and looks at its evolution as a form of journalism. It also offers some guidance on the importance of …

A presentation delivered at AEJMC 2014, this provides a brief history of fact-checking, and looks at its evolution as a form of journalism. It also offers some guidance on the importance of verification, and why it needs to be taught.

Published in: News & Politics

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Transcript

  • 1. From Fact-Checking to Verification @CraigSilverman Editor, Regret the Error, Poynter Editor, Verification Handbook
  • 2. In The Beginning: Magazine Fact- Checking “Any bright girl who really applies herself to the handling of the checking problem can have a very pleasant time with it and fill the week with happy moments and memorable occasions” — Edward Kennedy, Time (1920s)
  • 3. 30s to 70s • New Yorker, Esquire, New York, The Atlantic, Forbes, Fortune, Newsweek etc. add checking departments. • Closed process. • Job is a stepping stone.
  • 4. Checker’s Mindset “I knew nobody would notice the difference. But there’s a certain aesthetic pleasure in just knowing it’s correct.”
  • 5. Decline of Checking • Newsweek eliminates checkers, 1996 • Fortune, 1997 • Cutbacks and outsourcing
  • 6. Media Fact-Checking • Accuracy in Media, 1969 • FAIR, 1986 • Media Research Center, 1987 (NewsBusters) • Honest Reporting (2000), • CAMERA (1982) • Media Matters for America, 2004
  • 7. Rise of Political Fact-Checking • FactCheck.org, 1993 • PolitiFact, 2007 Today: Over 40 active fact-checking sites. Source: https://www.reporterslab.org/duke-study-finds-fact-checking-growing-around-the-world/
  • 8. Fact-Checkers today “Fact-checking is a relatively new form of journalism in which reporters research the accuracy of statements by politicians. In the past, fact-checking was primarily done on political ads, but it’s been expanded to any kind of statement — speeches, interviews, press releases, even tweets.” — Bill Adair founder of PolitiFact
  • 9. New: Networks Source: Statistica, http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/
  • 10. New: Abundance • 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube ever minute. • More than 500 million tweets sent per day. • More than 55 million Instagram photos uploaded per day.
  • 11. Social Media/Meme Checking
  • 12. “Journalism is a discipline of verification” — The Elements of Journalism
  • 13. So… Let’s teach this discipline!
  • 14. Three Elements Verification employs a mix of three factors: 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 consult/talk to. 3. Documentation. Source: Steve Buttry, Verification Handbook
  • 15. Verification Values • Restraint. • Discipline. • Multiple sources. • Communication. • Collaboration.
  • 16. Mindset • Assume it’s not true. • Skeptical. • Investigator. • Separate emotion and motivation from work.
  • 17. Core Activities • Identify and investigate the original source — and interview them. • Confirm date and time. • Confirm content of the information. • Research similar events, content. • Speak to additional sources. “How do you know that?” • Triangulate all collected information. • Use tools when possible, but not just tools.
  • 18. Verification Toolkit • VerificationHandbook.com • Skype/Phone • Reverse image search • EXIF reader • Google Maps/Earth • Who.is • Spokeo, Pipl.com,WebMii.com • Twitter Advanced Search • YouTube Data Viewer • Izitru
  • 19. Resources • VerificationHandbook.com • Coming soon: six free videos on verification, more case studies. • Citizen Evidence • Bellingcat • Regret the Error
  • 20. Discussion • Complete our survey: – http://bitly.com/verificationsurvey • What are you teaching about verification and fact-checking? What works? • Why isn’t it being taught? • What can we create to help you teach the discipline of verification?