Emergency Reporting

Verification: The Basics

by Craig Silverman, Claire Wardle

In the age of the Internet, rumours and hoaxes quickly spread during breaking news situations. As a result, there is an increased need for journalists to sort real, authentic content from the fakes. This course will provide the basics on how to get started with verifying online information.

When a violent protest, mass-scale accident, or natural hazard unfolds, information tends to get jumbled, causing fear and confusion. With the growing use of technology, we have witnessed innumerable false and fake stories being shared on social networks, including photoshopped images, or reuploaded diced videos from unrelated events in the past. With increasing frequency, journalists are required to master the skills and expertise to handle the information that circulates on the Internet and elsewhere.

Complementing our recently launched resource, the Verification Handbook, this course will provide the basic knowledge and techniques of verification in the digital age.

In this course, you will learn:

  1. The mindset, values, and basic approaches of verification in the networked world.
  2. What open verification is, best practices, and some examples of how it’s being done.
  3. The challenges of verifying information during a crisis, with tips for preparation and training.
  4. The key techniques of verifying UGC, such as how to verify provenance, source, date, and location.
  5. Ethical considerations and how to ensure to protect your source.
  6. Appropriate crediting and labelling, including best practices for attributing the UGC you use.

Course overview

Module 1: Verification in a networked world by Craig Silverman

  1. Introduction (01:21)
  2. The Fundamentals (14:50)
  3. Open Verification (20:11)
  4. Verifying During a Crisis (15:27)

Module 2: Using and Verifying User Generated Content by Claire Wardle

  1. Introduction (02:21)
  2. Key techniques (20:34)
  3. Ethics and Protecting your Sources (14:57)
  4. Crediting and Labelling (16:55)
  5. Meet your instructor: Craig Silverman

    Meet your instructor: Claire Wardle

    Course instructors

    Craig Silverman

    BuzzFeed Canada, Editor (CA)


    Claire Wardle

    Eyewitness Media Group, Co-founder (US)


Our other courses

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  • Mapping for Journalists

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    The vast majority of stories published in the news have a geographical dimension: knowing and telling where something happened is part of good journalism.