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How inewsource shows its work to build trust with community

Transparify has changed how inewsource journalists think about reporting and writing stories.

If there’s one lesson you can still take from seventh-grade math, it’s the value of showing your work.

That’s what the journalists at the San Diego nonprofit investigative site inewsource were reminded of when a college challenged one of its investigations and demanded a retraction.

The newsroom did not back down, however. In an article in Solution Set, Joseph Lichterman detailed the newsroom’s response:

inewsource, however, was able to show quickly that everything in the story was accurate and backed up by documents. In addition to publishing a typical version of its investigations, the site created a tool, called Transparify, which is a second version of the story that includes a link to every single primary document used as part of the reporting.

“Every fact in the initial story was linked to a primary document verifying the reporting. To be fully transparent, inewsource shared that version of the story and all of the documents on its website,” the site’s lawyer wrote in a letter to the college.

Lichterman’s post explores the fact-checking process and how inewsource uses Transparify, as well as its plans for the future. He also underscores the lessons the newsroom has learned through this process—and what others should take away from it:

  • Put trust at the center
  • Make it easy for reporters
  • Give readers options