The credibility of one’s argument depends on the credibility of its sources. Therefore, we are extremely careful about picking up sources that we use in our stories.
The focus is on reaching out for the primary source from where the information might have originated. It is important to evaluate if the source is directly related to the story that we are investigating. The idea is to find out if the person sharing the information is also the original author of the content.
To our maximum extent, we try to track down the people who are either the author or eyewitnesses to the original audio/video clip. We also look for people who are in a position to have access to credible information. Often, we use India Today reporters in various districts of the country for cross-verification. Not completely relying on just a single source, we corroborate statements with evidences that we gather.
Primary sources: Reaching out directly to the person concerned is the basic of fact-checking. To verify the authenticity of a statement, we directly approach the persons concerned. We also scan their social media accounts to verify their public statements.
Official sources: Local authorities and police remain conventional yet an important source. We share the information or claim that we are investigating with the authorities to get the official reaction on it. The documents on the official websites of Parliament, state assemblies and various ministries are a huge source of validated information that we frequently use.
Scholarly journals & newspapers: We rely on non-partisan and government agencies for expertise, analysis and official reports. We also use academic books and reputed websites for authoritative information on a subject. Apart from reputed newspapers and magazines, we often refer to websites of well-known organisations and company publications.
Transparency about sources: We clearly specify our sources in a story. We describe in reasonable detail about the process and evidences on the basis of which we arrive at a conclusion. We provide hyperlinks in most of the stories so that readers could replicate the fact check process and go back to the primary source for cross-verification.
Additional layer of verification: India Today has a huge pools of reporters and stringers active on the ground. When required, we utilise this network spread across the country and abroad to cross-verify facts. Occasionally, we come across stories where the persons concerned don’t have social media presence. In that case, our on-ground reporters act as an additional layer of cross-verification.