Andy Carvin of NPR Shares Wisdom On Reddit

From Media Bistro:

The rapid rise of the online social community Reddit has born out a phenomenon that has captured a large swath of the Internet: the “Ask Me Anything” or AmA. Everyone from Icelandic indie band Sigur Ros to President Barack Obama has hopped onto Reddit to answer user questions about their lives, their dreams and their goals. It’s a growing medium for communities to connect to a heretofore unreachable public figure, and every once in a while it creates a major teaching moment.

That happened today when NPR’s Andy Carvin —  a senior strategist and reporter whose work on the Arab Spring, primarily through his Twitter account @acarvin, led the Washington Post to call him a “one-man Twitter news Bureau” — dispensed helpful advice about digital journalism and production on stories that occur thousands of miles away. His hour-long AMA gave great insights into his own reporting style, and the toll of covering the Arab Spring.

Here’s a roundup of some of the highlights.

On Authenticating Video

The most import thing to do is look for context. Is there something visible in the background that can be IDed, like a building or other landmark? If people are speaking, what kind of accents do they have? If there are weapons involved, what kinds are they? Does the timestamp of the video match the weather forecast, or the location of the sun and shadows? Etc, etc. Fortunately, I have a lot of Twitter followers who love this type of detective work.

On Mixing Personal Social Media with News on Twitter

My very first tweet was about eating pita and hummus – not exactly breaking news. Over the years, the account began to include more and more news-related tweets – and my followers seemed to like the mix. Also, I think it’s healthy to remind people that I’m not a bot – I’m just another guy on Twitter, hanging out with everyone else, trying to figure out what’s going on in the world.

On Verifying Twitter Sources

Whenever possible, I try to start with someone I already know and trust. I then look at their account and see who they’re following, and how long they’ve followed them. The longer they’ve been doing it, the more likely they know each other. I then repeat the process with some of those people. Once I’ve done that, I watch their accounts carefully to see what they’re doing. Are they uploading new footage with new timetamps [sic] or geotagging? Do they clumsily throw around words like “BREAKING” or “CONFIRMED” in all caps, in every tweet? Are they followed by people I know, who I can ask to vouch for them? And so on.

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