A checklist of red flags for fact-checkers during breaking news

During breaking news situations, unverified information, rumors, fake photos and outright lies are unfortunately part of the process in social media. As a fact-checker, you don’t want to spread false information or spend time chasing a rumor. But how can you tell?

Here’s a “red flag” checklist to consult during a breaking news event:

  • “Answers” given too soon
  • Anonymous sources
  • News sources cite other news sources
  • Language like “We are getting reports…” or “We are seeking confirmation…”
  • Talk of “second shooter” or other speculation
  • Verify suspicious images or photos using reverse image searches or other photo-checking techniques

Taken from Fact-checking: How to Improve Your Skills in Accountability Journalism, a self-directed course by Alexios Mantzarlis and Jane Elizabeth at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.


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