In the era of smartphones and social networks, it’s essential that journalists and aid responders have the skills and knowledge to rapidly and reliably verify information in the wake of a disaster.
Disasters, by definition, are fast moving and chaotic. Rumors and false reports abound, especially in the early hours. People’s lives depend on timely, fact-based information so they can take action, and humanitarian aid can be provided to the areas that need it most.
In these critical moments, social networks are often overloaded with situational updates, calls for relief, reports of new developments and rescue information. While some of them will be true and important, a significant amount will be false, especially when natural disasters, violent riots and conflicts occur.
When a crisis breaks, trusted sources such as news and aid organisations must sift through and verify the mass of updates and report back to the public with accurate, fact-checked information.
The big question is: How can we put this into practise?
Authored by leading journalists from the BBC, Storyful, ABC, Digital First Media and other verification experts, the Verification Handbook is a groundbreaking new resource for journalists and aid providers, offering step-by-step guidelines on how to deal with user-generated content (UGC) during emergencies. The handbook provides actionable advice to facilitate disaster preparedness in newsrooms, and a better understanding of how to best validate and use information, photos and videos shared by the crowd.
The Handbook will be freely available to anyone interested in brushing up their verification skills. While the online version is planned for release on Tuesday 28 January 2014, the print version will be available to order soon thereafter.
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).
Twitter hashtag: #emjo
Madolyn Smith (Press), European Journalism Centre
Rina Tsubaki (Project Manager), European Journalism Centre
+31 43 325 40 30 www.emergencyjournalism.net