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We Won’t Get Fooled Again

Hurricane Sandy brought devastation to the east coast, and with it, amazing stories and even more amazing images. The problem was, a lot of those images were fake.

In the age of Photoshop, people in general – but especially journalists – should be wary of spectacular images that seem too-good-to-be-true. Because, as the old adage goes, they probably are. Google “Fake Hurricane Sandy” and you’ll get pages of not just the images but stories of the images and how the readers were duped.

That’s where the journalists come in. Regardless of whether it’s in print or online, by the New York Times or a local writer, times like this will earn a publisher the “trusted source” badge by its readers. Sure, some will survive the blunders, like CNN reporting that the New York Stock Exchange was flooding with water, which we later found out that they sourced from a National Weather Service Chat bulletin board, not a verified source. But time will tell as to if that scarred their reputation as a trusted news source.

The hope of today’s publishers is that readers will look to them as that trusted source, making them come back to their publication (website, twitter feed, Tumblr, newspaper, magazine and/or other outlet) time and time again.

So, getting back to those images, and becoming that trusted publisher.

Savvy journalists have a many methods and tools for verifying news stories, and now even some to help them verify the authenticity of images. Media Bistro’s 10,000 Words, a great resource for all journalists. It’s a great story on how the author (Meranda Watlig) used to trace an image they published a year ago. She also used Google Image Search to search by the actual image (URL), not text.

The race is still on for who will capture, and keep the audience traditional news sources have lost in the last years. Being that trusted source will pay off.