Industry Issues Blog Three

Defending Rights

Protection is a key part of journalism. The need for protection takes shape in several ways. At times, what needs protecting is the public. Other times, a journalist must protect him or herself from an outsider trying to destroy his or her credibility with the click of a mouse. A pair of articles demonstrates how journalist are staying on the cutting edge of technology in the fight to provide the public with the truth and protect themselves from fraud.

Live Lying

Media Shift’s Michael Cervieri recently wrote an article about Truth Teller, a new software in development that could soon be used to show inaccuracies in politician’s speech. It will pull information from the Washington Post’s reporting database to determine if what is being said may be incorrect.

This system may struggle to make a determination regarding intent of the speaker. In other words, it is a machine, and machines cannot determine motive. The program will not be able to tell if a politician is lying. It will however be able to flag areas of statistical or historical inaccuracy so a human being can examine the circumstances and make such a determination.

The program is supposed to make journalist’s jobs easier in the future. It is modeled after the music recognition, Shazam. It would record speech audio live and use an algorithm to match what it is taking in with what it knows. Then in real-time it shows what is correct and what isn’t.

The prototype that is available for public use at the “Truth Teller” link above is not perfect yet, but it shows the basic abilities of the program.

Truth Teller Criticisms

There are still issues that need to be resolved before Truth Teller can be used as a tool for future journalists. The most prevalent criticism is that the Washington Post database is not large enough to serve as a fact checking base. The post does a tremendous amount of political reporting, but one paper simply is not enough to maximize the true potential of Truth Teller. Resources from multiple media outlets and other groups must be combined to best serve the needs of Truth Teller.

Should Truth Teller reach its full potential the journalism profession. This is bad, because people are needed to frame the importance of an event such as a speech. People would know if someone was lying if they use the program, but without reporting before and after, the context might not be clear.

Two Is Better Than One

While Truth Teller is helping journalism protect the public, two-step verification is helping protect journalist.

Lauren Hockenson reinforced how important it is for journalists to protect their social media and email accounts in a recent article she penned for Media Bistro.

Two-step verification makes it nearly impossible for hackers to access other’s accounts. After a password is entered, a case specific code is sent to a device, such as a cell phone. That code must be entered to unlock the account.

Journalists of the future need to start using two-step verification now to protect themselves. Without it, hackers are a password away from controlling a journalist’s online identity.


About brettmcmillan

Believer. Broadcaster. Story Teller.

Posted on March 27, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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