Whatever You Call It -- Open Journalism, Social Media Journalism, Open-Source Intelligence -- It's Going Mainstream
from the first-draft-of-first-draft dept
We've written a couple of times about the use of publicly-available information, typically posted on social networks, to verify developing stories where traditional sources are scarce or unreliable. This new field doesn't seem to have a fixed name yet -- open journalism, social media journalism, open-source intelligence are all used -- but whatever it is, it's clearly going mainstream, as this announcement on the YouTube blog of The First Draft Coalition makes clear:
You could say that user-generated news video is today’s "first draft" of capturing an event that took place. But when it comes to incorporating this content into the reporting of a news event, verification is a critical step for any newsroom -- and not every journalist knows where to start. So we're bringing together a group of thought leaders and pioneers in social media journalism to create educational resources on how to verify eyewitness media, and how to consider the ethics of using it in news reporting. This new group, called The First Draft Coalition, will consist of experts from Eyewitness Media Hub, Storyful, Bellingcat, First Look Media's Reported.ly, Meedan, Emergent, SAM Desk, and Verification Junkie. The Coalition will develop and program a new site for verification and ethics training, tools, research, and, most importantly, case studies around the biggest news stories of the moment.
As the post explains, The First Draft Coalition will be launching its own site later this year, but you can get a taste of the kind of thing it will be doing from examples on Medium. There's an article there by Eliot Higgins from Bellingcat, whom we wrote about last year, and who is widely regarded as one of the leading exponents of the art. His post is well-worth reading, since, as he writes:
When working on open source and social media investigation there's occasional images that at first seem as if they would be impossible to verify.
He posts one of those images, found by the Twitter user surpher:
Of course, Higgins then goes on to pinpoint the exact position in Russia of the military convoy shown there, using not just the image's co-ordinates (which anyway need to be verified) but tiny signs in the photo, including road markings, half-visible posts and cracks in the road that most of us would miss completely. It's an amazing performance, and demonstrates well the incredible potential of this field. Whatever it's called.