Building news savvy: Best practices
Verify Road Trip
WHAT IS IT?
Verify Road Trip is a Dallas television program that asks community members to submit questions, then takes one of them on a video adventure in search of answers. The weekly segment shows how information is verified using good journalism practices. Topics can be serious (reporting on a proposed border wall accompanied by a Trump supporter) or light (asking whether barbeque or chili should be the Texas state food).
WHO’S BEHIND IT?
WFAA, an ABC affiliate and Tegna station in Dallas, pioneered this approach starting in 2015. Verify Road Trip falls under the umbrella of Verify, a fact-checking initiative that was a brainchild of an Innovation Summit organized by Tegna, which has television stations in 38 markets. Tegna stations in other markets also broadcast WFAA’s Verify Road Trip segments and operate their own fact checking projects based on viewer queries.
DOES IT WORK?
David Schechter, WFAA senior reporter and the host of Verify Road Trip, said a segment on how hormones in milk do not cause early puberty in girls drew 1.2 million views. The segment’s Facebook page grew from 2,000 followers to 22,000 in one year. Schechter says the question-askers all report learning about newsgathering. Tegna VP of news Ellen Crooke said Verify segments had attracted 5.8 million page views as of June.
HOW TO DO IT
Set up a Facebook page to gather questions. Once you pick a question, ask for volunteers to appear on camera. A short survey about interest and motivation can help you choose a guest. Staffing models may vary, but Verify Road Trip host David Schechter and photographer Chance Horner work full-time on the segment. Finding high-caliber experts is critical. Scheduling reporter, expert and volunteer can be challenging. More on the process here.