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Nov 22 / King Kaufman

Verifying news from social media: Good advice from the #ows beat

New York police at Occupy Wall Street on Nov. 17.

New York police at Occupy Wall Street on Nov. 17.

Here’s a happy accident: Josh Stearns of the nonprofit media reform organization Free Press has a post on his Groundswell blog that serves as a nifty followup to Copy Chief Dan Bonato’s Bleacher Report Blog post, Verifying sources: A primer and checklist.

Stearns published before Bonato, but we won’t worry about that.

Stearns maintains a Storify called Tracking Journalist Arrests at Occupy Protests Around the Country.

In his post, titled Trust and Verify, Stearns explains how he does it, how he gets the information about who’s been arrested, and how he verifies that the info is true.

It’s a useful piece, not least for the list of resources Stearns includes for anyone who wants to learn about the process of verifying information that appears on social media.

Stearns isn’t talking about sports here, but any B/R writers who doubt that the skills of journalists covering hard news come into play on sports beats sometimes should cast their minds back one week.

I found a comment Stearns left on his own post as useful as anything in the post itself. Asked at what point he decides to include a new name on his Storify, Stearns writes, “In general, I wanted to get the information up and available, but was willing to wait to get it right. After tracking this for a number of weeks I knew this was an ongoing process, not an effort to capture breaking news and be first.”

That’s a good reminder that being first, while desirable, isn’t the primary goal. Being right is.

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Photo by bogieharmond/Flickr Creative Commons