No one likes to make mistakes. Especially during a crisis and in a digital world like ours when it’s easier to make them and easier to find yourself in serious ethical trouble for it.
There’s finally a guide for all of that. This week, the Emergency Journalism Centre released their Verification Handbook, available for free on the web and soon in downloadable form. The Handbook was edited by Poynter’s ‘Regret the Error’ editor Craig Silverman, and compiled by a team of working journalists and media industry thought leaders, like Steve Buttry, Mathew Ingram, Anthony De Rosa, among many others.
The Handbook is useful for everyone (did you retweet that story about Elan Gale on a plane?). But it’s tailored for journalists reporting on emergencies or disasters, when information flows faster than usual, making it hard to triple check your work and get it posted. Think about the Boston Marathon bombing last year and how we were glued to our Twitter accounts for information. There are chapters on verifying, yes, social media accounts, but also images, video and user generated content. There’re also a ‘Verification Checklist’ for newsrooms and chapters specific to preparing and implementing disaster coverage. My favorite part? The chapter on how to best ‘use the crowd’. Everyone throws ‘crowdsourcing’ around very easily, but it’s a skill and if it’s done improperly, your newsroom will be sorry for it.