The Verificado 2018 newsroom in Mexico City.

Innovation through iteration

How Pop-Up Newsroom’s workflows are being applied to Verificado 2018 — Mexico’s collaborative election initiative

Verificado 2018 is a large-scale journalistic collaboration between more than 90 media partners, working together to debunk misinformation, fact check claims, and verify media ahead of the biggest elections in Mexico’s history. Pop-Up Newsroom is one of three lead partners (along with AJ+ Español and Animal Político), and helped launch the initiative in March with a four day workshop of training and co-design.

Large multi-stakeholder collaborations with complex information flows and multiple verification processes require careful and robust workflow design, taking into account a range of technologies, types of content, roles and functions. The Pop-Up Newsroom methodology for designing this type of process is iterative, and collaborative — we work with the various stakeholders to ensure that processes are flexible and serve observed needs, and build on the collective expertise and experience of the project partners.

Mapping it out

Verificado’s Workflow

We start any Pop-Up Newsroom project with training and framing sessions. This is designed to get everyone on the same page but we are ultimately working towards devising a workflow that everyone can buy into and work to. The workflow above is the result of many iterations and there are still many more to come as we head into election day. The starting point is a generic workflow that we have used for previous Pop-Ups (see below).

The starting point for Pop-Up Newsroom workflows

Working with technologists

Technology is an important element of the newsroom processes and we’ve integrated technology and technologists wherever possible.

Throughout the day, journalists will be adding images, videos, links and claims to Meedan’s open source collaborative verification platform Check. Check provides a shared verification process for different types of content (videos and WhatsApp chains, for example may require different verification steps), and a way to assign reports and tasks to specific members of the Verificado team.

CrowdTangle in the Verificado Newsroom

The Facebook partnerships team have hooked the newsroom up with CrowdTangle. It is on permanent display next to our production desk meaning that we can see what output is performing well — both our own and from others.

Tweetdeck is an essential tool for those working on our newsgathering team. Structured monitoring is essential for small teams and it ensures that journalists aren’t doubling up but can also cast their nets wider and get more than just the low hanging fruit.

We’re also working with AI through Krzana’s newsroom tool that allows us to enter hundreds of key words, phrases and politicians in order to surface content from thousands of sources.

Left: Krzana’s Quin Murray beaming in from London to the Mexico City newsroom. Right: A screenshot of Verificado’s “channels” in Krzana.

How is it going?

It is impossible to tell how much impact the workflow is having but we are telling good stories and we are able to do it fast. We are stopping blockages in the process because we are able to both identify the problems and solutions quickly — and most importantly communicate them out to the teams.

Here’s a few examples of the things that have come out of the Verificado newsroom since we all moved into one place:

“No, 36% of INE polling station workers in Mexico State haven’t resigned, as was published in various news sites. Roberto Heycher, INE’s Executive Director of Electoral Training and Civic Education sent this clarification to @VerificadoMX.”
“It’s false that @BelindaPOP (Mexican pop star) earned 42M Pesos for appearing at the event marking the end of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador; the supposed invoices circulating on social networks are fake.”
“An edited video circulating on social networks shows Ricardo Anaya speaking with PAN members in Guanajuato. This has been taken out of context to suggest that the candidate has accepted defeat in the election. Don’t be fooled! @VerificadoMX shares the unedited video without cuts.

Follow Verificado 2018 online, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tom Trewinnard contributed (a lot) to this post.