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Crowdsourcing and Verification For Journalists


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A how-to guide for long-term and short-term crowdsourcing projects for journalists, including tips on verifying news and photos received via social media.

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Crowdsourcing and Verification For Journalists

  1. Tap Into the Crowd Mandy Jenkins @mjenkins #norcalsoc April 2012
  2. What is Crowdsourcing?• When you call on your readers/followers to contribute to a story• Calls for content, news tips and story sources• Can be breaking or long-term• Involve a little or a lot of information
  3. Before Crowdsourcing•Build engaged community (follow people,converse with them)•Build Twitter lists of key sources forbreaking situations•Plan ahead when you can, have a plan forwhen you can’t•Include crowdsourcing in story-planning
  4. During Breaking News• Open keyword searches• Monitor key Twitter lists• Have reporter or news org start tweeting live to get and share info
  5. Find Sources Fast
  6. Ask for What You Want
  7. Ask Permission for Photos
  8. Breaking NewsCrowdsourcing•Say what you know•Say what you don’t know•Say what you want/need to know•Don’t spread rumors•Vet sources & information•Ask questions as you gather info•RT with context, note if its verified
  9. Search.Twitter.Com/advanced Search by keywords, location, time Search quickly - before the stream is taken over by reaction
  10. When You Find Leads• Connect with eyewitnesses, get contact info• Have them wait for a reporter on scene• Verify!
  11. • Search venues on• “Mayor” is great source for info about a business or venue (employee or regular customer)
  12. Crowdsourcing Everyday
  13. Crowdsourced map: Google Maps
  14. Ask Everywhere• Print callouts (Tell Us Your Story)• Social media promotion (reporter and papers’ accounts)• Embeds into online stories• Word-of-mouth, IRL on the beat
  15. Crowdsourcing Ideas• Ask for archival photos/stories from community anniversaries• Is it raining/snowing/earthquaking near you?• Build a source database for recurring themes (foreclosures, veterans, lost jobs, etc.)
  16. Beware B.S.
  17. Check the persons credibility• Check when account was created.• How frequent are updates?• Do they have a photo?• Do they have friends/followers? Do they follow?• Check bio, links• Check Klout score• Google name and scam, spammer• Contact & interview
  18. Follow up on the tip• Ask for a phone number and call the person.• Ask if they witnessed first-hand or heard about it.• Ask exactly what they witnessed, how they saw it and when.• Ask who else may have the same info.
  19. Check credibility of the info• Check earlier tweets/updates: Anything leading up to the tip that makes sense?• Do follow up tweets/updates make sense in context?• Does it read authentically? Misspellings, bad grammar, typos can also be a sign of a real person.• Corroborate the info
  20. Evaluate your options• How urgent is this information?• How important is the tip to the overall story? Is there a story without it?• Is it worth the risk if it is wrong?
  21. B.S. Images
  22. Photoshop Debunked by Reddit
  23. East River Flooding! (Nope) Scanned and tweeted photo from an older storm
  24. Verifying Images• Check exif info:• Check for edits to photos:• Reference locations against maps and existing images from the area.• Examine weather reports and shadows to confirm that the conditions shown fit with the claimed date and time.• Check clothes/buildings/language/license plates/vehicles etc. to see if they support what the image claims to be.
  25. THANKS! Mandy @mjenkins Blog: These slides & more at