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

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Primary Target Country
Publishing Organisation The European Journalism Centre
Language English
Year Published 2013
Target Audience Civil Society, Media, Practitioners
Status Published
Disaster Management Phase After, Before, During
Covers Thematic Content creation, Crowdsourcing, Technologies, Verification
Audience Experience Level Intermediate, Starter
Source Website
Abstract 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

Please note: Access to the following links is currently only available for project partners

Key facts: Verification process

Detailed verification process

Verification tools (ICT)

Is Archived No
Covers platforms Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube

Extremely detailed step-by-step guide on how to verify information. The Handbook prescribes best practice advice on how to verify and use this information provided by the crowd, as well as actionable advice to facilitate disaster preparedness in newsrooms.