posts about or somewhat related to ‘verification’
In a rush to get there first, a number of media outlets reported today that Google purchased WiFi hotspot provider ICOA. Problem is, the story just isn’t true.
Via Ars Technica:
So how did this story get so widely distributed? The answer is media outlets writing about it didn’t contact Google or ICOA before pumping out their stories, relying solely on a press release that wasn’t issued by either company. ICOA’s stock (worth less than a penny) soared on the fake news and then, just as suddenly, fell back down to earth. This leads to the natural assumption: someone must be profiting off this little mess…
…A story in BuzzFeed quotes [ICOA CEO George] Strouthopoulos as saying the source of the hoax is from Aruba. The Securities Exchange Commission has reportedly halted trading on ICOA’s stock at ICOA’s request.
So, current idea is that someone planted the press release on PRWeb to boost ICOA’s stock price.
More importantly though, as Ars Technical writes, “No one’s perfect. But a few minutes of digging, Google searching, e-mailing, and phone calling is usually enough to prevent false news from hitting the wire.”
Put another way, a press release isn’t a verification of fact. Contact your sources, report and then publish.
Bonus Pwnage: Here’s a story from a few months back about a man who offered himself up as an expert in all things. Even though he wasn’t, media outlets took the bait and quoted him extensively about all manner of topics.
Much has been written about how we can verify sources and information in a social media age.
Not so much about how journalists — like most human creatures — are a rather lazy group and say, for instance, might skip a step or three in the process of story assignment to story publication.
Which is what Ryan Holiday took advantage of as he became an expert on pretty much all things reporters happened to need an expert on when reporting their stories.
Using Help A Reporter Out, an online network that connects reporters with expert sources, Holiday responded to pretty much anyone seeking a comment or opinion about pretty much any topic. He even had an assistant help get through his inbox deluge.
Holiday, 25 years old and based in New Orleans, mostly wanted to see if it could be done. He had been getting blogs to write what he wanted for years, and had developed a sense of how stories were put together in the internet age. He thought he could push the envelope a bit further…
…He used Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a free service that puts sources in touch with reporters. Basically, a reporter sends a query, and a slew of people wanting to comment on the story email back. He decided to respond to each and every query he got, whether or not he knew anything about the topic. He didn’t even do it himself — he enlisted an assistant to use his name in order to field as many requests as humanly possible.
He expected it to take a few months of meticulous navigation, but he found himself with more requests than he could handle in a matter of weeks. On Reuters, he became the poster child for “Generation Yikes.” On ABC News, he was one of a new breed of long-suffering insomniacs. At CBS, he made up an embarrassing office story, at MSNBC he pretended someone sneezed on him while working at Burger King. At Manitouboats.com, he offered helpful tips for winterizing your boat. The capstone came in the form of a New York Times piece on vinyl records — naturally, Holiday doesn’t collect vinyl records.
During the course of Holiday’s “experiment” he says he was fact-checked once, by email, to confirm whether he really was Ryan Holiday.
As Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out, tells Forbes, HARO is just a tool. “As a journalist, it’s always been your job to do your research and check the source, whether you find that source on the street, on Craigslist or on HARO,” he says. “If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job however you find the source.”
Craig Silverman, Nieman Reports. A New Age for Truth.
This is all very true and we recommend reading what he has to say.
Unfortunately, we also recommend reading Jay Rosen’s recent article, If Mitt Romney were running a “post-truth” campaign, would the political press report it?
His answer, unsurprisingly, is no, no it wouldn’t.
— Robert Hernandez, professor of new media at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. For journalism’s future, the killer app is credibility.