Handbook on the verification of user-generated content for journalists and aid responders released

The European Journalism Center released a handbook on the verification of digital content, which is freely available online. While it is primarily targeted at journalists and aid responders, it provides valuable advice for anyone researching user-generated content / social media.

The handbook was edited by Craig Silverman, The Poynter Institute, and can be read online at: http://verificationhandbook.com/

Craig Silverman, the handbook’s editor, outlines its content and contributors as follows:

“This handbook offers lots of tools and some technical advice — but the most important pieces are non-technical. It’s about a mindset, about asking questions when others don’t, and maintaining skepticism when something looks true, or is more attractive if true. [...]

Contributors from Amnesty International and Storyful provide advice and example of how to verify video, while journalists from the BBC, Guardian and BuzzFeed offer the same for verifying images.
Tom Trewinnard of Meedan, an NGO, offers a look at how a network of Syrians inside and outside Syria use a Facebook group to verify information coming out of the country. It’s a model of how crowdsourced verification can work, and goes well with a chapter on that topic from GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram.
Internews Ukraine, an NGO, tells the story of how they mobilized 36 journalists, three election monitoring organizations and Ukrainians from all over the country to gather, verify and publish news about the 2012 elections.
Anthony De Rosa of Circa gives something of a master class in how to use social media as a police scanner.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK shares details of their impressive disaster coverage preparedness training and planning. For example, it has “500 robot cameras set up in major cities, in coastal areas and around nuclear power plants in order to be able gather live, verified footage as it happens. The broadcaster will this year “have 15 helicopters stationed in 12 locations around Japan. This will enable us to reach, and broadcast from, any location in the country within an hour.”
Steve Buttry of Digital First Media provides an overview of the fundamental discipline of verification, including the one question that lies at its heart.
Patrick Meier of the Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute provides an overview of how advanced computing is being used to help verify information.
Sarah Knight of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation offers a roadmap for how news organizations can prepare for disaster coverage.” (Craig Silverman, Regret the Error, 28 January 2014)

PDF and Kindle versions will follow, as will a print edition.

The Verification Handbook is an initiative by the European Journalism Centre (EJC) in the Netherlands, and financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, as well as the African Media Initiative (AMI). The project is supported by various international partners including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (from the handbook’s press release)

Thank you, Elisa Mason, for pointing us to the release of this book.

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