A little over a year ago, I suggested to colleagues at Poynter that I write an e-book about verification.
It seemed to me an essential project, but also a reflection of the shift I've experienced in my focus for Regret the Error. When I first launched this blog as a standalone site in 2004, I was primarily finding and publishing corrections. Over time, I began to look at errors — their cause, prevalence and effect.
In the past three years, perhaps in part due to the spread of social media, smartphones and viral news, I've found myself more and more focused on verification.
With so much misinformation flowing fast and freely, and the ability for anyone to easily shoot, share and/or manipulate images and video, the skills of verification have never been more important. Yet it's not taught on an ongoing basis in most newsrooms. And it's not just journalists who need the skills and knowledge to sift real from fake — this is a basic, essential skill of news literacy. We all need it. It's about cultivating a mindset to question and scratch away at the surface of what we see, hear and read.
Today, I'm proud to announce the publication of the free Verification Handbook. It provides news organizations and others with detailed and valuable guidance for verifying information. It's live today as a website and we will soon release the handbook as a PDF and Kindle book, along with an Arabic translation. (More languages will follow, along with a print edition.) Sign up at the website to be notified when the other versions are released.