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Published on January 1st, 2013 | by EJC


Google & Storyful: Talking Journalism, Social Media And Verification

Despite a brief outage dubbed the “G-pocalypse”, Storyful and Google held a successful online hangout in December 2012 to discuss “the continued challenges faced by journalists trying to verify content in real-time, and the possibilities offered by technology during a big news event.”

The panel covering this issue was made up of journalists, editors and social media experts from both sides of the Atlantic. Hosted in front of a live audience at Google’s Dublin HQ it was also joined by journalism students from Ireland and the US.

Public engagement and inter-organisational cooperation were two of the key ideas discussed and together, the panellists came up with some promising ideas for news outlets dealing with future disasters, covering internal policy, social media strategy and how to get the public interested.

Although it is always been a part of a journalists job, verification, which once took place in semi-secret because of the importance of getting a scoop, is now creating interest among online audiences. The challenge now is how to teach people to do it themselves.

According to ‘Mr Verification’ Craig Silverman, editor of’s Regret the Error, “verification skills are skills that everyone needs.” Making the process captivating would go some way towards getting the public involved, he believes.

From Tom Phillips’s point of view there already seems to be a certain amount of interest in verification. The creator of istwitterwrong, who was in London during the storm doing rolling coverage of images appearing on the social web, said it “quickly gained a life of its own” driven by interest in the idea of being able to say whether something is authentic or not. Of the public’s reaction to his posts calling out fakes he said

“The feedback was really great. There was a strong sense I thought, that there was a need for people to be doing things like that […]”

There is also an opportunity for cooperation in verification believes Silverman, since debunking falsehoods in these situations is in the interest of all. The media should follow the model established by government organisations for cooperation during disasters, he believes.

Adam Blenford, the BBC’s online news editor for the US, proposed that news organisations should work together to crowdsource the verification of images posted online, using existing online tools suck as Google images and TinEye.

There is the danger, however, that by trying the set the record straight people may nevertheless misinterpret the content as real and actually spread it further. When you do repeat it you run the risk of someone stripping it of the verification, said Silverman.

The focus on verification in recent times, greatly assisted by the growing number of freely available verification tools (link to ‘verification tools page), may have had the effect of making online audiences highly suspicious. So much so that images taken by professional photographers are often questioned when they are posted on Facebook said Liz Herron, social media director at the Wall Street Journal. Thus, while is important to make it clear when something is unverified, it is equally important to be clear when content is authentic.


At the PICNIC event in 2012, David Clinch, the Editorial Director, gave a comprehensive overview about Storyful (the below video at 00:20:00)


 Photo: Ophelia Noor

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2 Responses to Google & Storyful: Talking Journalism, Social Media And Verification

  1. PhilaniNcube says:

    hi Sir
    we are a community radio initiative based in Bulawayo Zimbabwe that focuses on youth issues,asking for training on the issues you mentioned as we are approaching upcoming referendum and elections there is a lot of violence perpetrated by ZANU pf but remain unnoticed as there is no body covering what is happening on the ground.

  2. Pingback: Journalism, Social Media and Verification | SHAUN MILNE | progressive journalism

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