So now we get to the 2nd question out of the big 3: How does the Journalistic Process of Verification work?
Verification is a process that takes newsworthy information (think news drivers) and checks its credibility and reliability before it is published or broadcast as news.
A key to becoming a smarter news consumer is to understand the process of verification of each day’s facts and decide for yourself if a story is solid or not.
Just because some Producer or Editor decides to run a story doesn’t mean you should blindly accept their judgment.
The Journalist's Process of Verification should follow these rules:
- Gather, assess, and weigh information & evidence
- Place new facts in the big picture to give you context by which to form an accurate impression of what has happened.
- Explain how they know what they know – and what they don’t know: which translates as transparency.
When we look at the types of evidence that journalists must gather, it's important to think about the types of evidence that the journalist may find and use in a story.
There is DIRECT EVIDENCE: evidence that is captured from the source, such as from someone that is directly related to a story, or an eyewitness to the events involved in a story.
And there is INDIRECT EVIDENCE: evidence that comes second hand, from someone who is "knowledgeable" on the subject or story, but not directly involved, or another type of evidence that is "arms-length" from the story or event.
Used to support an inference, arm’s length evidence stands up in a logical world…but many events and people aren’t logical, which is why we say arm’s length or indirect evidence is less reliable than direct evidence.
As a news consumer, you need to pay attention to which is which when you are deciding for yourself if a story stands up.