I’ve been posting fact-checking tools to Journalist’s Toolbox for more than a quarter of a century. Verification is at the core of what we do as journalists, and having good resources at our fingertips.
Here are a few of my “quick-and-dirty” tools I’ve been using to fact-check stories, photos and video:
The Google Fact Check Explorer tracks if a story has been fact-checked by an independent source. You can search by name or topic, or look up the most recent fact checks regardless of topics. This tool is invaluable for a social media desk and for any reporter thinking of linking to another story out of their piece.
Google Earth is more than just a tool for looking at satellite imagery. Zoom in to get a closer look at a location, or drag the Street View icon from the lower left into any blue line that appears in the interface to get a 360 view of an area. This is helpful when you are fact-checking images or video in a location you’re not familiar with.
If reverse image search doesn’t get the job done, you can study a photo’s metadata and layers in FotoForensics to see if the image has been doctored. Watch the short tutorial linked off the site before using it.
Deep-fake videos are a big issue for media outlets. WatchFrameByFrame.com helps you identify them by breaking down each frame in a video to spot green screen, misplaced shadows and other effects on doctored “news” videos created by pranksters. This tool won’t catch all deep fakes, but it will catch a lot of them.
The YouTube Dataviewer from Amnesty International tracks where and when a video was first posted to the web. It uses Google Reverse Image Search to search individual frames in the video to locate where and when the video appeared. This is good for fact-checking user-generated content or any video shared from a source you’re unfamiliar with.
You can find many more fact-checking tools, tips and tricks on First Draft News and in the free Verification Handbook. The handbook has excellent case studies on fact-checking breaking news, photos and videos.
Quick tip: Journalists are under a tremendous amount of stress with long work hours, deadlines and covering tragic events. If you need help, seek it. Journalist’s Toolbox has a page full of resources for journalists needing mental health assistance as well as resources to cover mental health issues.
Find more resources on JournalistsToolbox.org. Subscribe to our free, twice-monthly newsletter full of tips, tricks and tools. And subscribe to our free YouTube channel with more than 60 training videos. Follow Mike on Twitter @journtoolbox.