Verification Handbook: An Ultimate Guideline on Digital Age Sourcing for Emergency Coverage

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Quick Facts

Publishing Organisation:
The European Journalism Centre
2013 regularly updated
English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Croatian, Turkish, Arabic
Covers Thematic
  • Technologies Software for interaction with, within or among communities in case of a disaster and for analysis of these interactions
  • Verification Verification is an extra or final bit of proof that establishes something is true.</br>To verify something is to make sure it's correct or true, so verification is an action that establishes the truth of something.</br></br>Source:
  • Target audience
  • Civil Society Civil society is a target group in LINKS which comprises citizens, civil society organizations, educational institutions, vulnerable groups, social movement organizations
  • Media The term media refers to any means of distribution, dissemination or interpersonal, mass or group communication of works, documents, or written, visual, audio or audiovisual messages (such as radio, television, cinema, Internet, press, telecommunications, etc.)</br></br>Entities using multiple communication channels are often called Media
  • Practitioners Practitioners is a target group in LINKS which comprises local, national and European disaster management organizations, civil protection agencies, first responders, NGOs, security networks...
  • Audience experience level
  • Advanced Those who currently use social media to communicate with the public during all phases of an emergency and have developed a clear social media strategy, even if this is not thoroughly documented or communicated across the organisation</br></br>Source:
  • Disaster Management Phase

    Verification Fundamentals:

    • Put a plan and procedures in place for verification before disasters and breaking news occur.
    • Verification is a process. The path to verification can vary with each fact
    • Verify the source and the content they provide.
    • Never parrot or trust sources whether they are witnesses, victims or authorities. Firsthand accounts can be inaccurate or manipulative, fueled by emotion or shaped by faulty memory or limited perspective.
    • Challenge the sources by asking “How do you know that?” and “How else do you know that?”
    • Triangulate what they provide with other credible sources including documentations such as photos and audio/video recordings-
    • Ask yourself,
      • Do I know enough to verify?
      • Are you knowledgeable enough about the topics that require understanding of cultural, ethnical, religious complexities?
    • Collaborate with team members and experts; don’t go it alone.

    Verifying user-generated content (UGC)

    • Start from the assumption that the content is inaccurate or been scraped, sliced, diced, duplicated and/or reposted with different context
    • Follow these steps when verifying UGC:
      • identify and verify the original source and the content (includinglocation, date and approximate time)
        • Provenance. The first step of UGC verification is to identify the original content, be it a tweet, image, video, text message, etc.
        • Source. With the original content identified, gather information about the author/originator of the content. The goal is to confirm whether the person behind the account is a reliable source.
        • Content – Date. Verify the date and approximate time, particularly when dealing with photos/videos
        • Content – Location. A crucial aspect of verification is to identify the location of the content
      • Triangulate and challenge the source
        • When getting in touch with the source, ask direct questions and cross-reference answers to information you get through your own research. Make sure that their answers match up with your findings
      • Obtain permission from the author/originator to use the content
        • Copyright laws vary from country to country, and the terms of conditions differ from service to service. Obtaining permission to use images, video and other content is essential.

    Preparing for verification success in disaster and breaking news situations

    • Build and maintain a network of trusted sources
    • Identify the role you/your organization will play in the moment, and any possible disaster scenarios
    • Train, debrief and support staff and colleagues

    Recommended reading in the document

    • Verification tools (ICT)

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