How can I be sure
In a world that’s constantly changing?
— The Young Rascals
That’s a good question, especially in our modern digital world – how exactly can you be sure? You can increase your chances by learning how to think critically about online sources, and one title that can help is a new publication from the European Journalism Centre called the Verification Handbook: An Ultimate Guideline on Digital Age Sourcing for Emergency Coverage. Remember the adage: trust, but verify? The attitude here is much more in the vein of verify, then trust. Here’s the link for a free PDF download:
This title is intended for journalists and aid responders who need to quickly find out whether something is real or not. But while the rest of us might not want to go so far as to directly contact the person who first uploaded the questioned content to social media, there’s a lot that non-journalists can learn from it, too. It’s divided into ten short chapters on things like ‘3: Verifying User-Generated Content’ (UGC is an acronym to remember when reading this book – it’s everywhere!), ‘4: Verifying Images,’ and ‘5: Verifying Video.’ There are a number of interesting case studies that are like short detective stories; for instance, there’s one on a giant beach ball on a city street and another on sharks swimming in a suburb after Hurricane Sandy. The book concentrates on news events, so other case studies include things like the Boston Marathon bombing and the 2011 Japanese earthquake.
The last chapter, ‘Verification Tools,’ lists several pages of useful internet tools and is worth browsing all by itself. If you’d like more, you can also download two related free books from that same link, one of additional materials and more case studies, and another focusing on investigative reporting.