Grady Partners with First Draft News; Clinch Lecture Kicks Off Relationship Sponsored by Cox Institute

David Clinch

David Clinch, Storyful

A prominent news editor challenged Grady’s journalism students to take fact verification seriously as a journalistic skill.

David Clinch, the Global News Editor at Storyful, said news organizations are hiring journalists with the necessary blend of social media savvy, journalism training and business skills as they seek to maximize the value of verified content.

“You must take the approach that you are learning a skill set that is incredibly valuable and increasingly in demand,” said Clinch, who spoke January 19 to a class on information gathering. His lecture kicked off Grady’s new formal partnership with First Draft News, an organization dedicated to fostering fact-checking and content verification.

Professor Barry Hollander initiated Grady’s relationship with First Draft. His students in a special topics course on the election participated in First Draft’s Electionland project during the Fall 2016 semester.

“Accuracy must be at the forefront of journalism training, and that includes understanding the importance of providing context and rooting out fake news,” said Hollander. “Collaborating with First Draft is one way we can bring additional resources into the classroom to help teach these vital skills.”

The ongoing partnership with First Draft will be sponsored by the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership, which is a training and outreach unit of Grady’s Journalism Department. Programs within the partnership will be coordinated by Keith Herndon, the Cox Institute’s director.

“We’re really pleased to have the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication join the First Draft Partner Network. We worked alongside some very talented students from the university as part of the Electionland project in the fall and we’re excited to continue the relationship,” said Claire Wardle, research director and leader of First Draft’s partner network. “As the journalism industry tackles the misinformation ecosystem, teaching advanced verification skills is more important than ever. We look forward to supporting more initiatives like this one, bringing together students and industry practitioners.”

Storyful is one of First Drafts’ founding partners and Clinch emphasized the importance of its mission in his lecture. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that fake news is an issue that we must confront,” he said, adding that collaborations through First Draft are important because members of the industry must learn from each other.

“The challenge of verifying is a complicated forensic process,” Clinch said, encouraging the students “to get out of their own bubble” and read news from a variety of sources and to read more than one version of a story. “Do your own checking.”