Monday, November 25, 2013

Hey, guys - we made the Times!

NY Times examines controversy amid rampant tech gentrification in San Francisco.

Here's the part I particularly agree with:

“There has to be some kind of public support to make sure you don’t just have a city of the very wealthy, but people to make the city run ... A city needs restaurant workers, a city needs schoolteachers, a city needs taxi drivers.”

Saturday, November 23, 2013

For anyone who thinks we live in a post-racial society …

Fourth SJSU student charged in alleged hate crime case

For the record, I grew up in San Jose. It’s definitely a “minority-majority” town. Asians, Latinos, Indians, African-Americans, and European immigrants all abide. But San Jose doesn’t celebrate its stunning cultural diversity – it actually takes it for granted.

I would argue that diversity in the newsroom is generally a good thing, but it’s obvious that the presence of other races doesn’t necessarily prevent racism. (White students only account for a quarter of SJSU’s population.) The media has presented a multitude of perspectives on minority cultures, and while these articles are often applauded, they are also met with angry comments made by (presumably) white men. (Read the bottom of the SJSU article if you don’t believe me. Or don’t. Spare yourself the aneurysm.) White men are tired of narratives where minorities are presented as the victim. It’s infuriating that they have the audacity to feel “excluded” at all (they are not, and never will be, a marginalized group of people), but it’s possible that these types of articles simply point too many fingers.

P.S. – Yeah, I know, I’m blowing up the blog. Sorry, guys. It’s easier than writing a research paper.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Press Law in Canada: Ways in Which Muzzling the Press Does Harm

Susan raised the question of how restrictions on the press in Canada differ from those in the U.S. Wandering around I came across the following in which lies a nice summary (which I boldfaced) of why some news that some might find prejudicial to a pending case should be allowed to be published.

In 1994, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a landmark ruling on publication bans and news media in the case of Dagenais versus Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The ruling dealt with limitations on the scope of bans and it named factors that courts must consider before issuing bans that might infringe on freedom of the press. In a 6-3 ruling, the court ruled that the freedom of the press can be of equal or greater importance as the right to a fair trial.

The Dagenais case arose from a cross-Canada publication ban against the broadcast of a fictional drama, “The Boys of St. Vincent,” set in Newfoundland, which portrayed child sexual and physical abuse in a Roman Catholic orphanage. The ban was issued by a lower-court judge after hearing an application by lawyers for four members of a Catholic order in Ontario charged with the sexual and physical abuse of young boys in Catholic training schools. 

The judge reasoned that since the men would face trial soon in Ontario, the TV drama could jeopardize their fair trial rights. The judge ruled that the drama could not go to air until after the four trials, and he also agreed to ban any publicity about the application for the ban. The CBC appealed, but the appeal court agreed with the lower-court decision. However, the appeal court did limit the ban to Ontario and Montreal and it did away with the ban on publicizing the original ban.

The Supreme Court ruled that in “post-Charter Canadian society” the common law principle of protecting against a fair trial “does not provide sufficient protection for freedom of expression.” The court laid down a “modified rule” that a ban should be issued only when:

• Such a ban is necessary in order to prevent a real and substantial risk to the fairness of the trial, because reasonably available alternative measures will not prevent the risk; and
• The salutary effects of the public ban outweigh the deleterious effects of the free expression of those affected by the ban.

The court said the issue is which constitutional right is more important at the time of application. The party, Crown or accused who wants a ban bear the burden of justifying this limitation on freedom of expression. Also, the judge issuing a ban must keep it as limited in scope as possible.

The court noted that judges need to consider seriously alternate measures to bans, such as changing trial venues, sequestering jurors, allowing challenges and voire dires during jury selection, and providing strong direction to juries. 

The supreme court listed reasons as to why publication bans are not healthy for the justice system as a whole, because not ordering a ban may:
• Prompt persons with relevant information to come forward
• Prevent perjury by placing witness under public scrutiny
• Prevent state or court wrongdoing by putting the justice system under scrutiny
• Promote public discussion of important issues.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Diversity Statistics from the American Society of Newspaper Editors

The percentage of ethnic minorities in American newsrooms has stagnated at between 12 and 13 percent for more than a decade, according to the annual census released today by the American Society of News Editors. 
The census includes responses from nearly 1,000 out of almost 1,400 daily U.S. newspapers and was conducted with the Center for Advanced Social Research. It finds that ethnic minorities make up 12.37 percent of newsrooms in 2013, down from a high of 13.73 percent in 2006.
That trendline is of great concern to the nonprofit professional organization. If it continues, ASNE will fall well short of their goal of having the percentage of ethnic minorities working in newsrooms nationwide reflect their representation in the overall population by 2025, when it is predicted to reach 42.39 percent.
"It's terribly disappointing to learn that diversity in newsrooms remains stagnant despite the rapidly changing landscape of America," said Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news at the Democrat and Chronicle Media Group, Rochester, and co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee, in a press release announcing the census' results. "If we are to accurately reflect and authentically cover the communities we serve, we must do much better as an industry or we risk becoming irrelevant to news consumers of the future."Newsroom minority chart
The moribund growth of the minority population in newsrooms is mirrored in the lack of diversity in cable news.A Media Matters study of evening cable news shows found that white men were hosted 58 percent of the time in April 2013, a figure nearly unchanged from a similar study we conducted in May 2008.
Other lowlights of the ASNE census include:

Ethnic Minorities Make Up Only 10 Percent Of Newsroom Supervisors

People of color are slightly underrepresented in the editorial ranks compared to their percentage in newsrooms overall.Supervisors by race

Percentage Of Ethnic Minorities In Newsroom Internships Has Fallen

Many aspiring journalists get their first taste of a professional newsroom as interns. Ethnic minorities made up 26 percent of newsroom interns in 2013, down from 27.2 percent in 2012 and a significant underrepresentation relative to minorities' 37 percent share of the general population. Moreover, the large and consistent gap between the percentage of ethnic minorities who are newsroom interns and their share of newsroom jobs suggests a disconnect in the hiring process.
Even worse, the percentage of minorities in internships has fallen significantly from their nearly 40 percent share in the early 1990s.Internships

Percentage Of Women In Newsrooms Has Never Exceeded 38 Percent

While ASNE's press release focuses on the worthy goal of ethnic minorities reaching parity in newsrooms, the census also shows the percentage of women in newsrooms has gone virtually unchanged for 14 years, never exceeding 38 percent.Women in newsrooms

Women Also Underrepresented As Newsroom Supervisors

Women are 34.6 percent of newsroom supervisors in 2013. That figure peaked at 35.6 percent in 2006.Women supervisors
Charts by Oliver Willis.

From Oakland's Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

Media Programs for Journalists of Color

Send by emailThe Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (MIJE) is the leading organization dedicated to training journalists of color and to helping the nation's news media reflect the nation's diversity in staffing, content and business operations.

MIJE began as the volunteer project of nine working journalists who believed the nation's news media could never fulfill its obligation to society with its entrenched segregation. Over the years the Institute has literally changed the face of journalism by designing programs that meet industry needs.
Today, those programs reach a broad group of journalists and fulfill the training needs of hundreds of news organizations. Each is open to participants of all ethnic and racial groups.

The Caldwell Journals: Nearly 40 years ago, a young black man took a job at his hometown daily newspaper in rural Pennsylvania. It was a rare occurrence for that generation.
Earl Caldwell, then 22 years old, could not grasp the significance of that event, nor could he forecast the tempestuous decades that would sweep him and hundreds of other journalists of color into the thunderous fold of civil rights history.

The Chauncey Bailey Project: Renewed Investigation in the Death of a Black Leader

New America Media and the Maynard Institute have convened an array of Bay Area journalists, as well as highly respected media organizations and local university journalism departments to form an investigative team to honor and continue the work of journalist Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr., and answer questions regarding his death. Bailey, the editor of the weekly Oakland Post, was murdered on Aug. 2, 2007 while reporting on a story regarding the suspicious activities of the Your Black Muslim Bakery.

Health and the Media: Helping reporters do a better job covering health issues for men and boys of color.

In his book Whistling Vivaldi, Columbia University Provost Claude Steele recounts how New York Times editorial writer Brent Staples whistled Vivaldi when he walked down city streets in an attempt to reassure white pedestrians that they had nothing to fear from the tall black male.

The Oakbook: Oakland Voices is on hiatus while we wait for our new class. In the meantime, we are offering a live feed from The Oakbook. Get updates on Oakland issues and events from a unique perspective.

Oakland Voices: Oakland Voices is The Oakland Tribune’s 9-month program that trains East Bay residents to tell the stories of their neighborhoods. The Tribune created Oakland Voices  as a vehicle for community members to become multimedia storytellers, and to be new voices directly shaping the coverage of this region.

Jackson Voices: Jackson Voices is a project of The Clarion-Ledger and The Maynard Institute, which supports diversity in American journalism. The nine-month program was created to put the power of storytelling in the hands of Jackson residents with the goal of elevating voices not often heard, particularly within the African-American community. The Clarion-Ledger wants the community correspondents to be new voices in coverage of Jackson. The program will enable people from the community to report on what they think is most important. Ten community correspondents will report, write and take photos.

Reality Checks:  Reality Checks is a Web-based diagnostic tool that allows news organizations to quickly and easily assess the diversity of its sources and the completeness of its coverage.

Plug in the information of the demographics, placement and story type for each article, and the Reality Checks software crunches the numbers and generates the reports.

Media Center on Structural Inequity: The media has made great strides since the days when mainstream newsrooms were mostly male, almost exclusively white and often declined to report on communities of color. Yet even today people of color too often find themselves over represented in stories about crime, sports and entertainment and too infrequently in stories about business, lifestyle and everyday life. The problem is compounded by the fact that news stories still rely on the personal narrative, often ignoring the structures and policies in place that go a long way toward defining our lives. With support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Maynard Media Center on Structural inequity is providing coverage analysis, a research library, reporting tips and a daily analysis that looks at coverage of people of color in the digital space. It is our hope that this  will help journalists provide comprehensive reporting on the complex issues that create structural inequities in our society.

Maynard Institute Webinars: In 2011, we produced our first webinar through a grant provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In the coming months we will expand our online library. While we encourage people to participate on the day of broadcast to engage with presenters and ask questions, we make these webinars available on our site indefinitely for viewing at your convenience.

Media Academy: This program prepares individuals for promotions to entry level management roles on both the editorial and business sides of newspapers. This innovative year-long training experience is run by Maynard in partnership with the Newspaper Association of America.

Editing Program: An immersion program that hones participants' professional copy-editing skills.

Fault Lines: An innovative framework that allows journalists to analyze and discuss their coverage in the context of the communities they serve.

Oral History Project: An ongoing effort to document and preserve an untold era of American journalism by chronicling the contributions of a generation of black journalists who changed general circulation news coverage. Highlights include an online serial, "The Caldwell Journals," a personal account of the black journalist movement written by legendary reporter and columnist Earl Caldwell and a unique oral/video collection of journalists' stories.

Native American Journalists Recommend Thanksgiving Stories

Six tips, including:

When referencing Native Americans in Thanksgiving coverage, do not refer to us as figures from the past. One unfortunate case of this happening came this year when The Reporter newspaper in Landsdale, Pa., published this headline: “Walton farms fifth graders bring Native American tribes to life.” ( ). Tribes have living cultures that are vibrant and evolving today.

Report: Batkid Wish Cost S.F. $105,000

As the city comes down from the high of the year, The Chronicle's City Hall watchdog duo Matier & Ross have dug into what Miles' wish cost the city of San Francisco. According to their sources the price tag on the event totaled a cool $105,000.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Speaking of SNL ...

I really enjoyed their spoof of 60 Minutes featuring Rob Ford:

The media’s been having a lot of fun at his expense lately. I’m not gonna lie – I’ve been enjoying it myself.

But if we’re talking about ethics (and I know that we are!), I should raise questions about the way the press broke the story of his notorious scandal.

Back in May, the website Gawker started a “Crackstarter” campaign (yes, really) in order to purchase footage (from his drug dealers!) of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack-cocaine. The deal fell through, but a Gawker editor saw it and ran something anyway. This gave the Toronto Star license to talk about it in their own paper, which they later attempted to claim as an exclusive story. (A war between the two outlets ensued, but that’s beside the point.)

I find it entertaining that a news site would go so far as to contact a politician’s drug dealer for footage, let alone offer him money. It doesn’t exactly lend Gawker a lot of journalistic credibility. (But then again, they are a gossip site.) I suppose you could call that “checkbook journalism,” but maybe it’s different if your readers are the ones paying for it. (That’s another thing – is it really okay to solicit your readers in order to pursue a gimmick like this? Seems totally sleazy to me.)

I also noticed that Rob Ford lives in another country. I imagine the Canadian press has their own set of rules and regulations that American reporters may not be subject to. It’s kind of a cheap shot on the part of Gawker. They had no accountability for the story had it turned out to be false. If the Toronto Star had reported it (without evidence), they could have faced a lot of trouble from the Canadian government and the Toronto mayor himself. Rob Ford can’t exactly sue someone in another country – not easily, anyway.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A little reminscing for the class from KQED's Forum

Working Links for Talking about War Reporting


What embeds?

A Scholarly Article Critiquing Embedded Journalism

A Sexually Explicit Cartoon Criticizing Embedding

Geraldo yanked


Embedded 2007

ussr 1


Willie & Joe Pulitzer

The "elephant" in the room.

Two ethical dilemmas here:

1) Word choice. The use of the word “elephant” coupled with his unflattering profile. Coincidence? I think not. The media hasn’t kept quiet on Christie’s sizable figure.

2) Horserace reporting – premature horserace reporting. Why do we need to speculate on the presidential candidates for 2016? Our current one has three years to go.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Existential Code: Let's Start with Film Noir

The detective's "code"from

 When the protagonist is a detective, she or he is presumed to have a set of ethics or moral values. These are called "the detective code," or simply "the code," when discussing the genre. The basics of the code are best summarized by Richard Layman in his discussion of what James Wright of the Pinkerton Detective Agency taught Dashiell Hammett (see Hammett section) To summarize, the detective should be anonymous, eschew publicity, be close-mouthed, and secretive. He or she protects good people from bad people, who do not live by the rules; thus, one may break the rules in dealing with them. The detective ignores rules and conventions of behavior, because the client pays for this. Loyalty to the client is very important, but may be superceded by a personal sense of justice or the rule of law. The detective must keep an emotional distance from the people in the case, retain an objective point of view, and consider all pertinent clues.

Robertson says: All right. Who else does this sound like? A reporter or a reporter's image of herself/himself in the "movie" he/she plays in hir mind.("Hir" is an attempt from some years ago to create a non-gendered third-person singular pronoun.) I do think many of us are characters in our own movie.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A relief from the master narrative of tech reporting.

"Hot New Startup No One Needs"

It's just a tech blog (partnered with Gawker), but I really appreciate how critical this article is of a ridiculous new start-up named “Coin.” They’re working on a device that allows you to upload all of your credit card information to one place. A mind-bafflingly stupid idea, in my opinion. (How is that remotely safe?!)

It’s rare for any media, new or old, to write anything critical of the tech industry. Too often are they commended with phrases like “innovative,” “leading the way,” and “revolutionary.” We still refer to Steve Jobs as a hero, despite his lack of notable philanthropic work and willingness to outsource cheap labor to China. (Not to mention his notorious temper.) Yet we’re always waiting to see who will become the next Apple or Google.

The tech industry is always portrayed as “saving the world.” It’s true that technology has made our lives easier, but it’s also sparked a lot of problems that are inherent to our capitalistic system. I think a lot of people forget that technology is capitalism. It doesn’t necessarily seek to include everybody. There are people who get left behind.

Lester Land Ted Talks

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Boost that Klout Score (You've Seen It, But I Need a Place to Store It

JMR - Klout is an attempt at a metric, but it's a mixed bag.  Here are some observations about why Klout scores rise and fall:

While Klout allows you to tie into multiple social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, etc.), it primarily is driven by Twitter & Facebook.

Scores rise through a combination of # of followers/friends, overall frequency of activity, and how much you engage with other folks, particularly others with high Klout scores.  In the past, it was relatively easy to game Klout simply by posting more, and by engaging a lot with others.  This lead to a lot of blabbermouths getting high rankings.  Klout has modified their algorithm to not support this kind of behavior as much, but it still is a factor. 

When your tweets are getting retweeted frequently, this helps boost Klout score.
Same goes for likes and comments on facebook. 

I guess I wouldn't advise focusing on boosting Klout scores so much as:
Identify the best platform(s) to reach your desired audience (i.e. if you blog about cute kitties, focus on Facebook or Pinterest).  For me, that's Twitter & LinkedIn, so the fact Klout doesn't value LinkedIn as much and does love Facebook makes it less relevant.

Follow and/or connect with the most influential folks in your sector, as well as 2nd and 3rd tier folks.  Don't worry if they don't follow you back, but do engage with them by responding, retweeting, etc.
Regularly post your own content, or good pieces by others.  Others you have been engaging with will begin to follow your content, and retweet/like/share your posts.

Follow back those who follow you and/or accept friend requests.  This is initially important to build an audience.

Post frequently and consistently (i.e. 5-7 days per week)
If you care about scores like Klout, the above behavior will help them rise.


p.s.  A couple of other scores are PeerIndex and Kred.  Both are similar to Klout, but emphasize different things (PeerIndex is twitter specific, and Kred appears to focus on topical expertise

A News Source Aimed at You Guys - to Which I Will Attend Between Semesters

A Platform for the New Generation
Posted: 11/13/2013  |  By: Nu Yang
Do millennials care about the news? According to PolicyMic (, the answer is yes.  

Based in New York City, the website was founded in 2011 by Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz. The two recent college graduates had noticed that mainstream media outlets were not including their demographic in news conversations, so the longtime friends decided to create that platform for young people.  

According to Horowitz, monthly website traffic is at 7.5 million unique visitors with 60,000 registered users. He said the average age of each visitor is 26.  

Whether it’s discussion centered on the conflicts in Syria or the announcement of the new iPhone, Horowitz, who also serves as editor-in-chief, said the idea is to “spark conversation on current events among millennials.”  

To become a writer, PolicyMic implements a Mic system. Users create an account, comment on articles and give Mics to articles and comments they think are thoughtful. Users start as rookies with a 350 character limit and after reaching 100 Mics, they become pundits, which give them a 750 character limit. The more Mics a user receives, the higher they move up the chain to getting published.  
“The Mic system is meant to encourage high quality participation,” Horowitz said. “It gives people an incentive to say something smart.”  

Writers can also apply outside the Mic system by submitting a resume and writing sample. Students have the option to write for university credit. Currently, most of the writers are unpaid, but Horowitz said he and Altchek are experimenting with ways to pay their top writers.   

Currently, PolicyMic publishes between 60 to 100 articles daily, written by some of their 2,000 pundits worldwide. Horowitz said the workflow is a very structured model and the story is looked at by editors and an analytics team before it goes live, ensuring that a writer’s story receives maximum exposure.    

Last month, PolicyMic relaunched with a brand new look and logo. It features new sections such as breaking news and viral. Horowitz said the site will also experiment with video, a new phone app and a newsletter product. The relaunch also saw the end of its banner ads. Horowitz said the revenue model will now focus on sponsored content.  

Looking ahead, Horowitz said PolicyMic will continue to produce high-quality content. “We want to be the New York Times for our generation. A place where 18-to-35-year-olds can read, write and discuss the news.” 

Almost Half of All Newspaper Photographer Jobs Have Disappeared, Census Finds

If you’ve been paying attention to the professional photography industry, you no doubt understand that times are tough and likely to continue getting tougher for newspaper photographers...

Chaffey College student government held second secret meeting, reporters allege

CALIFORNIA — Just weeks after Chaffey College administrators publicly rebuked student government for holding an illegally closed meeting, reporters at the school say rumors abound of another secret meeting held by Associated Students of Chaffey College.
In two closed sessions last month, board members at Rancho Cucamonga’s Chaffey Community College voted to remove student body president Kevin Coduto. Ryan Geluz, a reporter for the school’s student newspaper, The Breeze, was at one of the meetings and protested that its closure violated the Brown Act.

Today on Forum: (Courtesy of Nick and Victor)

Today on Forum: (Courtesy of Nick and Victor)

Seems relevant to our class.

How We Make Moral Decisions

Audio currently not available for this program.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
A human brain on display as part of an exhibit in Bristol, England.
Harvard neuroscientist and philosopher Joshua Greene has brought a new dimension to the study of morality by scanning the brains of people as they struggle with philosophical dilemmas. Greene argues that humans are hardwired with a "tribal" mentality, an "us-versus-them" perspective that leads to clashes over political and social issues like abortion, gay marriage and gun rights. In his book "Moral Tribes," Greene explores how we make moral decisions, whether we put individual rights above the common good, and how this explains many of the social debates between different groups and countries.
Host: Michael Krasny
  • Joshua Greene, neuroscientist at Harvard University's Moral Cognition Lab and author of "Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and The Gap Between Us and Them"
More info:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Photos of the Philippines

I thought CNN made a good call in putting up explicit photos to show the devastation in the Philippines but warning about the nature of the photos before clicking through to the photos of a body. Something that comes with the new digital media that would not have been possible with print - being able to warn about content beforehand so that people are not disturbed, but the people who want to see can access the photos.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Content, context and code: verifying information online

When the telephone first entered the newsroom journalists were sceptical. “How can we be sure that the person at the other end is who they say they are?” The question seems odd now, because we have become so used to phone technology that we barely think of it as technology at all – and there are a range of techniques we use, almost unconsciously, to verify what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, from their tone of voice, to the number they are ringing from, and the information they are providing.
Dealing with online sources is no different. How do you know the source is telling the truth? You’re a journalist, for god’s sake: it’s your job to find out.
In many ways the internet gives us extra tools to verify information – certainly more than the phone ever did. The apparent ‘facelessness’ of the medium is misleading: every piece of information, and every person, leaves a trail of data that you can use to build a picture of its reliability.
The following is a three-level approach to verification: starting with the content itself, moving on to the context surrounding it; and finishing with the technical information underlying it. Most of the techniques outlined take very little time at all but the key thing is to look for warning signs and follow those up.

Level 1: Content

At its most basic level, alarm bells should ring if the information you’re looking at is simply too good to be true. The disgruntled sacked employee who makes lights up the exterior of Harrods with a farewell message fits this category. Ask yourself: would this really happen? And if so, who else would have known about it?
Harrods fuck you
If the information is coming through social media you have to ask: is this bait? Jan Moir’s Twitter ‘apology’ is one good example – lending itself to easy retweeting. Peter Serafinowicz’s ‘deleted’ offensive joke is another. So are various Facebook rumours, such as paedophiles who want you to change your profile picture, or party gatecrashers, and the occasional protesting Facebook group. And forum rumours (sometimes placed intentionally to expose journalists who plagiarise without giving their source). And press releases.
Embarrassing emails that go viral can turn out to be PR tricks. Video diaries can be revealed as new forms of narrative. Spectacular video footage can turn out to be more PR (by the way, read through that thread to see how it is infiltrated by a PR person but their identity is challenged). Check the facts, and see what other people have uncovered. And click on all of these links: the more hoaxes you are familiar with, the more likely alarm bells are going to ring at the right time.
The frequency and recency of information will give you a clue as to its veracity: the more recent the information, the more up to date it is likely to be (although it may be based on out of date information – trace it back to its source). And the more frequently a source is updated (over a long period of time), the less likely it is to come from an opportunistic hoaxer. You can getbrowser bookmarklets that tell you when a webpage was last updated (as well as many other pieces of information).
Finally does the style and personality of the information match the supposed source? Do they write in the same tone? Do they make spelling mistakes?
For images look for cloning and airbrushing. Cloning is the replication and repetition of small areas of a photograph to, for instance, make a crowd look bigger by duplicating faces; make an air attack look more dramatic by adding extra plumes of smoke, or to make an operations room look more active by filling blank screens.
Airbrushing is the removal of details – the Harrods image mentioned above was most likely created in this way, by removing lights so that those remaining spelled out the message. Also worth watching for are composite or staged images, such as the various Google Street View hoaxes.
This article suggests that inconsistent lighting, eye shapes and light reflections within eyes are all good clues to look for as well. And this related infographic allows you to explore how one image has been retouched. This article by Judith Townend goes into more detail about spotting manipulted images.
Level 2: Context
Social media lends itself particularly well to verification because, in our activity in social networks, we effectively verify each other. If your information comes from a social network account, ask yourself some of these questions:
How long has the account existed? If it’s only existed since a relevant story broke (e.g. Jan Moir’s column; an earthquake where someone claims to be a witness) then it’s likely to be opportunistic.
Who did the person first ‘follow’ or ‘friend’? These should be personal contacts, or fit the type of person you’re dealing with. If their first follow is ReadWriteWeb, then it may be that you’re not actually dealing with a Daily Mail columnist.
Who first followed them? Likewise, it should be their friends and colleagues.
Who has spoken to them online? Ditto.
Who has spoken about them? Here you may find friends and colleagues, but also people who have rumbled them. But don’t take anyone else’s word for their existence unless you can verify them too.
Can you correlate this account with others? The Firefox extension Identify is a useful tool here: it suggests related social network accounts which you can then try to cross-reference. For companies the Chrome extension Polaris Insights does something similar for companies.
For Twitter you might also try other tools including PeerIndex and Klout, both of which use algorithms to give extra information on the ‘human-ness’ and content of particular accounts. On Facebook there is the social commenting plugin which attempts to give a credibility score to commenters.
Finally, of course, you should try to speak to the person. Phone their office or their employer and confirm whether they do indeed have the account in question.
For websites the checks are broadly similar. On Google you can use the advanced search facility to look for other pages that link to the one you’re checking. These might include other website that have rumbled the hoax before you – or are bragging about it.
Similarly look what links the webpage contains to other sites: does this fit what you would expect? The browser bookmarklets mentioned above will collate these for you. At this point we’re starting to move onto the third level…

Level 3: Code

First, look at the website address. If it is purporting to be a governmental website it should end in .gov, etc. Health websites may end in .nhs, police in .police, defence in .mod and so on. Academic websites should end in or .edu but this is no guarantee: less reputable ‘establishments’ have managed to obtain web addresses with these extensions. And of addresses offer no guarantees.
Murray Dick gives more advice on the other elements of a web address, and recommends using an open directory to check your searches, as these are maintained by people, not computers, are less likely to contain hoax websites.
Use a Whois service to find out who the web address is registered to. This isn’t immune to fakery but the hoaxer may not have thought about it, and if the details are hidden you may wonder why. Try variations of the domain – when the viral ‘Labservative’ campaign first began it was not clear who was behind it, and I started by looking at Whois details – the company had kept their details private for the .com address, but they had forgotten to do so for the variation. I then called up the company and tried to call their bluff by asking who was managing the campaign.
If you are asking for emails verifying a story, make sure you are forwarded the original email, and not a screengrab, and follow this process to check the IP address of the email against who it’s supposed to be from.
Archives and caches can be useful to compare the latest version of a webpage with older versions. Conducting a relevant Google search and clicking on ‘cache’ next to the relevant result can show up recent changes. The Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine (recently revamped) can give you snapshots going further back. On Wikipedia and other wiki-based sources, look for ‘history’ and ‘discussion’ links where you can see what changes have been made and the discussions about those.
For images you can check out the EXIF data – this is information about when the image was taken, on which camera, and with what settings. This online tool (there’s a Chrome extension too) allows you to quickly see the EXIF data on any web-based image. This information is best used when speaking to the photographer – ask them when to give you the details that you can verify against the EXIF data. This isn’t a foolproof method but it will screen out most hoaxers.
EXIF data
Some news organisations – such as the BBC, in its UGC hub – have systems that look for Photoshop modification (not necessarily a sign of hoax – a user could simply have cropped or lightened an image). You can also see this yourself by looking under “details” > “origin” > “program name”. JpegSnoop will provide more details on images. Error Level Analysis is another useful tool to detect possible alteration, although it’s not perfect.
Finally, right-click on the page and view the source code. Occasionally hoaxers intentionally leave clues here, but you can also find other clues such as the author, date, location, and technologies used.

Any other techniques?

Those are just the techniques and tools that I can call to mind but I’m sure there are others I’m not aware of. Any you can suggest?
UPDATE: The BBC College of Journalism’s post on verifying content adds some other useful tipson cross-verification with maps, weather reports and other details.