It’s shocking to learn 52 journalists have lost their lives covering the war in Syria. Few foreign reporters are even allowed allowed into the country, where the dictatorial government rules the media with an iron fist, making impartial news-gathering all but impossible. To fill the void, established global news organizations have to a surprising degree turned to social media, raising its own set of challenges.
The Dublin-based company Storyful has stepped in to fill a newly important role – verifying the authenticity of user-generated content.
Storyful sorts out, among other things, whether a video is shot in real time or old, has been manipulated using Photoshop or other means, and its source of origin. Founded in 2010 by TV journalist Mark Little, the company has been funded to the tune of about $4 million by angel investors.
“Storyful is inspired by the belief that journalism is entering a golden age. The problem is that newsrooms aren’t equipped for it yet,” says Little on the company’s website, storyful.com. “We help newsrooms find the most valuable content on the social web.”
Clients include ABC News, Reuters, The New York Times and Al Jazeera, and included among its “case studies” is Hurricane Sandy, the F-18 U.S. Navy jet crash in April and ongoing coverage of the Syrian war. Storyful does no primary newsgathering.
“The embattled Syrian government has been very stingy when it comes to granting visas to journalists,” says an article in the Sept. 6 edition of USA Today. Helping to sort the authentic citizen journalism from the propaganda is a service that is likely to become increasingly critical, particularly among major news organizations.
Read the full USA Today story here.