A publication of the World Editors Forum


Fri - 24.11.2017

NPR's Andy Carvin: how to verify information on Twitter

NPR's Andy Carvin: how to verify information on Twitter

Craig Silverman of RegretTheError.com on the Columbia Journalism Review reported on his talk with NPR Andy Carvin about the real-time verification system underlying his Twitter account.

Senior strategist at the National Public Radio, Andy Carvin became the "man who tweeted the revolution" and "the go-to source of information on Twitter during the recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya", as the Guardian described him.

"Although Carvin had a network of blogger contacts in the region whom he used to check information being tweeted, what marks him out is his willingness to retweet unverified material and ask his followers for help to establish its accuracy", the Guardian's article said.

Silverman on CJR underlined that there are few established rules or journalistic policies for what he does. The main point is how to validate the onslaught of information he collects, how to validate news and sources and establish accuracy. No matter what name one decides to give to his work, what he does it's "somewhere between reporting and collaborative network journalism, and George Plimpton-like oral history, except that I'm doing it in real time in 140 characters", the Guardian reported him as saying.

"Just as Carvin is breaking ground in curation and crowdsourced verification, he is at the same time encountering new ethical conundrums that must be managed, as with everything else, in real-time", Silverman wrote.

Carvin counts on the collaboration of network of sources, asking for confirmations,

or simply reporting that news is unconfirmed...
"Some of these folks are working to actively overthrow their local regimes. I just have to be aware of that at all times. Perhaps the answer is transparency, so a certain person might be giving me good information but I should never forget that they are part of the opposition", he said to Silverman.

Carvin's followers are the engine that drives his reporting - Silverman noted. They help him translate, triangulate, and track down key information. They enable remarkable acts of crowdsourced verification, such as when they helped Carvin debunk reports about Israeli munitions in Libya. But they are by definition a slice of the population, an inexact (though curated) collection. They are people he has come to respect and admire; but he must always tell himself to check and challenge what he is told.

Someone calls what Carvin does "aggregation" or "curation", but whatever the name, it's still journalism.

As Laurent Haug noted on his blog (via OWNI.eu), "from a world whose problem was to add information, we now enter a world where the problem is to find which one can be ignored, hidden, or deleted."

"From a world of quantity, we now live in a world of quality. The key is not to have a lot of signals, but to have the right ones", he concluded.

Sources: CJR, Guardian, OWNI
Carvin tweets snapshots are taken from CJR's article
Photo source: Photograph Anna Gordon for the G



Federica Cherubini


2011-04-11 18:46

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

© 2015 WAN-IFRA - World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Footer Navigation