How to Verify the Validity of Visuals for Reporting

By Chaveli Guzman

One of the most important roles of a journalist is to effectively inform the community around you, or, in some cases, the world.

With this comes a great deal of responsibility.

Any information that is reported and released for the world to digest – regardless of its medium – influences and shapes the way others consider events or people. Through this, it’s crucial that any information published by journalists is truthful and accurate. If not, any false element of a written article, audio clip, video or photo, could both strip a publication from its credibility and falsely alter the mindset of its readers, viewers or listeners.

Therefore, ensuring that all published information is the truth comes through religiously following a verification process when developing any story. Through a verification process, journalists must closely analyze specific elements within writing, videography, photography or audio and detecting what may or may not be false, and taking measures to correct or add to the information.

By meticulously following the verification process of a story to prove or disprove the validity, all journalists, regardless of platform, are able to fulfill their commitment to the truth and to the trust of their audience and avoid the spread of “fake news.”

Verifying Photos and Videos

Outside of print publications, social media platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, are some of the most popular ways to share photos and videos, especially during national events or breaking news.

In times of crisis or celebration, both photos, and videos help us submerge into an event and understand it better by being able to visualize what its like.

Social media often serves as an outlet to gaining multiple perspectives of an event through photos and video straight from a smartphone. While this form of sharing the news is effective, informative and delivered fast, the negative side lies in how easy it fake news is shared and how it can be misconceived as real news.

Therefore, before a news outlet shares a photo or video found on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or even Snap Chat, they must make an extra effort to verify that the content is true. Gratefully, there are some efficient online tools to help determine the validity of the content.

To verify photos, one of the quickest ways to determine if the photographs correctly correlate to the event you are reporting on, or simply aren’t even real, TinEye Reverse Image Search is a simple way to do so.

Here is a simple step-by-step on how to use it:

  1. Directly drop or download the image you want to verify into the search bar of the home page
  2. Once your image has loaded, report results of where else the image has been used on the internet will appear on the far left side of the screen.
  3. Click through some of the links to verify the date when the image was used and the events it was used for.

That’s it!

If the image was shared for a date or from a location different than the one you are reporting on, most likely, it’s a falsely shared image.

To verify the video, the process is similar to finding the validity of photos, only “Amnesty International’s YouTube Dataviewer” is used for video.

Here is a simple step-by-step on how to use it:

  1. Copy and paste the YouTube URL to the search bar on the home screen
  2. Shortly after, the results, including the image thumbnails and the upload date and time, will appear for the viewer to judge.

That’s it!