Massive, country-wide protests are planned and it would be impossible to have correspondents placed at each demonstration.
Like many newsrooms these days, you plan to comb social media for photo and video evidence that can provide a national picture of what’s going on.
But how can you make sure the images you’re seeing are truly from the place and time they say?
Learning how to verify content from online sources is more important each day, especially as the amount of false content on the internet grows.
The new massive open online course (MOOC) from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and First Draft’s Claire Wardle will arm you with the tools and skills necessary to verify online content and use it ethically in professional, published reports.
Register now for the four-week course “Navigating Misinformation: How to identify and verify what you see on the web,” which runs from March 25 to April 21.
“Every person working with published information who wants to be authoritative and not write a correction, should know how to verify the authenticity of content sourced online,” Wardle said. “It’s not enough to say ‘this photo or video cannot be independently verified’ any longer. The public deserves to know the origin of any item included in a report or press release. Because public figures have adopted social media to such a high degree, even traditional reporters and editors need to know verification basics and have the ethics of incorporating this content into reporting sorted in their newsroom policies.”
Not knowing how to detect problems that come with content from the social web could bring threats to both you and your newsroom.
“Journalists are under attack by coordinated online efforts designed to fool and undermine them,” Wardle said. “Journalists need to be attuned to these types of campaigns, by understanding how online information is exchanged and to understand the basic checks involved to verify an online source.”
To help you prepare, the course is divided into four weekly modules that will each cover a specific part of verification.
- Week one will teach about the discovery of problematic content, including the use of free monitoring platforms
- Week two covers the basic verification of online sources, including using reverse image searches and examining digital footprints
- Week three reviews advanced verification of online sources, including geo-location of photos and videos
- Week four covers ethical considerations and challenges, like how to defend yourself on the dark web
Instructor Claire Wardle leads the strategic direction and research for First Draft, which is dedicated to supporting journalists, academics and technologists as they address challenges related to trust and truth. Wardle also is co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub and a TED fellow. She is an expert on user-generated content (UGC) and has researched how it is used by news organizations. She previously worked as research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and was head of social media for the UN Refugee Agency and director of news services for Storyful.
Wardle will be assisted by Aimee Rinehart, who directs partnerships and development for First Draft. Rinehart managed Comprova, a fact-checking project set up for the Brazilian elections in 2018. She was a digital originator at The New York Times and an editor at the Wall Street Journal Europe. She also worked in the communications departments at the American Civil Liberties Union, the Overseas Press Club of America and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
In addition to Wardle and Rinehart, guest speakers working in the verification space will discuss how they approach their work.
“This is another course the Knight Center offers to the community of journalists in the United States and around the world that addresses an important and urgent need. We are lucky to count on one of the best experts in the field on online content verification. Dr. Wardle’s work has been proven effective and is recognized internationally,” said professor Rosental Alves, Knight Center founder and director. “We are also lucky to count on Aimee Rinehart, who has just had relevant experience in the field, and the amazing guest speakers.”
The MOOC will consist of video lectures, video interviews, readings and handouts/exercises, participation in discussion forums and quizzes.
The course is open to journalists and conscientious digital citizens alike. If you’re already involved in the verification and discovery of problematic content and research, you’re invited to join to add your point of view and insight.
Students will be required to have internet access and are encouraged to have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Like all Knight Center courses, the MOOC is asynchronous, meaning you can complete the activities during the days and times that are most convenient for you. However, there are suggested deadlines so you don’t fall behind.
The course is free, thanks to a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that has helped the Knight Center offer journalism training for journalists from around the world. However, students who successfully complete course requirements have the option of paying an administrative fee of U.S. $30 to receive a certificate of completion in PDF format. No formal college credit is associated with the certificate.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots that invests in journalism, the arts and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Its goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which it believes are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.
About the Knight Center
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas was created in 2002 by Professor Rosental Alves, Knight Chair of Journalism at the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas, thanks to the generous donations of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Center’s distance learning program began in 2003 and is funded in part by the Knight Foundation. Over the past six years, the Knight Center MOOCs have reached more than 170,000 people in 200 countries and territories.