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REVEAL | September 30, 2023

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Automating Verification? IJF 2016

Automating Verification? IJF 2016
Jochen Spangenberg

From 6-10 April 2016, the 10th edition of the International Journalism Festival took place in Perugia, Italy. REVEAL was represented by Ruben Bouwmeester and Jochen Spangenberg of the DW Innovation team. Here’s a short recap.

A great event

To start with, it has to be stated that we found the International Journalism Festival 2016 (#IJF16) to be an excellent event that brought together amazing people from around the world, discussing a great variety of aspects concerning the current state and future of journalism. Location and perfect logistics added to making this a prefect outing. The focus of our presence, obviously, revolved around various aspects of verification.

Apart from attending numerous conference sessions we used the opportunity to talk to “movers and shakers” in the area of user-generated content verification and eyewitness media. We discussed differing verification approaches, current developments, tools and technologies, best practices as well as future cooperation opportunities.

REVEAL on stage

In addition to all the networking and conference attendance, we participated in the panel session “Automating Verification: how far can we go?”. It had been scheduled for Thursday, 7 April, and was attended by about 60 people, most of them journalists and media managers.

On the panel with Jochen were: Douglas Arellanes, co-founder of Sourcefabric; Sam Dubberley, co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub; and Mark Stencel, co-director at Duke Reporters’ Lab. The session was moderated by Jenni Sargent, managing director of First Draft News.

As the title implies, we primarily talked about a variety of aspects concerning verification of eyewitness media. The focus was on how much the process of verification can be automated and supported by technology, and which activities and initiatives already exist in the field – one of them being REVEAL (as well as its “sister project” InVID, in which some REVEAL project partners are involved). Hence an ideal opportunity to present these two EU co-funded research projects that deal with verification of user-generated content.

One consensus that was reached in the session was the following: while automatisation and technology can tremendously aid in the verification of user-generated content, there will always be – at least in the near future – a human element in it.

This will be the case for both legal and ethical reasons, as well as because of accountability. Another reason is that technology simply is not (yet) capable of doing a fully reliable verification job, and numerous challenges still need to be overcome (e.g. dealing with context, bias, propaganda, etc.). All this implies that there is still a role for journalist to play in the future. What changes and has changed, however, is the profession and role of journalism itself. Journalists need to acquire new skill sets, working practices and approaches, including the knowledge and mastering of supporting tools and technologies.

More viewing and reading material

Instead of going into detail about what else was discussed and showcased: let the panellists speak for themselves. Below, you can find the video of the entire session entitled “Automating Verification: how far can we go?”. Additionally, we list further resources that raise other aspects concerning the verification of user-generated content and the use of eywitness media for newsgathering and reporting. also wrote a good summary of our session. It is entitled “What would an automated future look like for verification in the newsroom?”

Other IJF16 sessions that discussed related topics (full session videos)

Making secondary trauma a primary issue

The responsibility of reporting graphic imagery: ideas for protecting yourself and your audience

Effective tools and techniques for verifying social content

The growth of fact-checking in a world of Pinocchios

Developing your social discovery skills for more effective newsgathering

Content curation tools, news aggregators and social media: new implications for copyright

Undertaking open source investigations

Should we forget the ‘right to be forgotten’?

What does it mean to protect an eyewitness in the social media age?

The complexities of copyright and eyewitness media

The above are just a snapshot and selection. There were numerous other sessions that dealt with related issues, ranging from effective search techniques to methods of investigation – many of which also apply to handling and dealing with user-generated content.

The interested reader is referred to the full IJF16 programme, where all session titles can be found. Respective session’s descriptions have the corresponding video embedded. Happy viewing!