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Accuracy and Social Media

What we’ve found most intriguing lately about the intersection between journalism and social media is the way it can serve as a microcosm of the critical skills a journalist needs in general.

The knowledge it takes to identify who is behind a particular Twitter account—and whether that person is where he says he is and reporting on something actually happening—is sometimes specific to the social media. But the detective-like skills and approach are applicable anywhere, and when reporters are trained in them, journalism is healthier for it.

In “B.S. Detection,” Interactives editor Mandy Jenkins and media verification junkie Craig Silverman describe some of the verification methods they use for social media. They injected humor, common sense and helpful specifics in the presentation they gave at the Online News Association.

Silverman and Jenkins are not the only journalists who have turned a spotlight on social media verification. NPR’s Andy Carvin became renowned for his work with Twitter during the Arab Spring:

  • For a media industry facing its own ferment, Carvin, who works online for National Public Radio (NPR), offers a glimpse into journalism’s future, using the Web to report the historic events in a fresh and innovative way.

  • Carvin’s Twitter account, @acarvin, is a steady stream of messages from participants in the protests, eye-witnesses, expatriates and observers along with links to news reports and photos and videos (Lefkow, Google News, March 26, 2011)

But even as Carvin is experimenting with crowdsourcing and new ways of reaching sources, he’s most famous for his strict attention to verification and double-checking his sources, as the Columbia Journalism Review reports.

Other helpful websites

Nieman Reports devoted an issue to social media verification.

Josh Stearns has a helpful round-up of guidelines and lists.

–Jennie Dear

#journalism #ethics #video #reporters #criticalskills

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