The Checklist: Daily Mail Double Debunk Edition

GitHub for journalists, peer-reviewed journal scams, tackling rumors in Nepal, and more

The Checklist is a weekly newsletter of links, case studies and research around verification and user-generated content, brought to you by the Checkdesk team. Sign up to have your own free copy delivered direct to your inbox every Tuesday.

1. Can you stop a rumor? In Nepal, a band of local volunteers are trying — with SMS, radio, the Internet, and old fashioned door-to-door reporting.

When people have little reliable information available to them, rumors, myths and misunderstanding spread rapidly, adding greatly to the stress and anxiety of already traumatized people. Volunteers, working with Accountability Lab, Internews, Local Interventions Group and other local partners have launched Open Mic Nepal, a systematic information loop that tracks, investigates, and reports back to local communities on damaging rumors.

2. GitHub tutorials and resources for journalists

Last year, Clay Shirky used GitHub as a way to report on Occupy Hong Kong. The platform allowed others on the scene to collaborate with Shirky as he reported his piece. What I admire about this approach is that it gave anyone the ability to clone and then modify Shirky’s document — but Shirky had final approval over whether to integrate those changes into the master document. At the time, I remember thinking “Oh wow, this is an amazing way to report on breaking news using both the combined power of a massive audience as well as the editorial eyes and ears of a reporter.” (Though Shirky isn’t a reporter, the piece was well-reported.)

3. Social media accounts closed for Tianjin blast rumormongering

Following the blast, certain accounts on microblogging site Sina Weibo and the instant messaging service WeChat began posting rumors like “toxic gas blown to Beijing”, “malls and markets looted”, and “no one survived within one kilometers of the blast site”.

4. Event watch: First speakers announced for news:rewired ‘in focus’ event on newsgathering and verification

Delegates are invited to attend a networking lunch, from 1pm until 2pm, before a keynote speech from eyewitness media expert Fergus Bell, co-founder of the Online News Association’s UGC Ethics Initiative and member of the First Draft Coalition. The opening panel will debate the ‘Wild West’ of social media, where there are no set guidelines for how journalists and news organisations find news.

5. Major publisher retracts 64 scientific papers in fake peer review outbreak

Made-up identities assigned to fake e-mail addresses. Real identities stolen for fraudulent reviews. Study authors who write glowing reviews of their own research, then pass them off as an independent report. These are the tactics of peer review manipulators, an apparently growing problem in the world of academic publishing.

6. Starting from scratch — Twitter lists expose the heart of a story

State and national US reporters descended on Chattanooga; Twitter hashtags emerged — #Chattanooga, #ChattanoogaShooting and #PrayForChatt. These helped to follow the story from afar, but national news can be sparing and sometimes miss the local context, whilst hashtags can be overwhelmingly noisy. Local reporters, officials, residents and civil society leaders are the people best equipped and best connected to get beneath the story, put it in context, and treat it with the sensibilities it warrants. Having all of these people on a single Twitter list is often the best way to stay on the pulse of the story.

7. Double Debunk of the Week: Daily Mail on Dubai drowning and MH370

Daily Mail, (and others) debunked by The Guardian

Credits: 1. Internews 2. Poynter (via @mkramer) 3. ICrossChina 4. Journalism.co.uk 5.Washington Post 6. First Draft News (via @malachybrowne) 7. The Guardian & Metabunk