First Draft on Getting it Right From the Source

Two interesting pieces published by First Draft on Medium. Firstly a detailed account of how journalists Derek Bowler and Rachael Kennedy from Storyful tracked and verified the social media accounts of Dylann Roof the man charged with the murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Roof appears to have published a hate filled manifesto on a website entitled “The Last Rhodesian”, and his Facebook page shows pictures of himself with a gun that matches the one used to carry out the murders. Whilst Roof seems to have made no attempt to hide his beliefs and motivation, the story of tracking down and verifying related digital material is nevertheless an interesting account of investigative reporting in the digital age.

First Draft also publishes an essay by Josh Stearns (of the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation) on participatory journalism, and training news communities in the art of ‘verification, news literacy and eyewitness media’.

Bringing communities into the news process is a powerful way to spread journalistic values, train residents on reporting processes and foster user generated content that is more useful for newsrooms. Newsrooms are well positioned to become participatory journalism laboratories, helping more people navigate, verify and create powerful stories online and via social media.

Stearns points readers towards On The Media’sBreaking News Consumers Handbook - Bearing Witness Edition’ which provides simple but intelligent advice to the citizen journalist filming ‘police action as a bystander’.