Tegna announced a big bet at this week’s Interactive Advertising Bureau NewFronts presentation: expanding its Verify fact-checking franchise to reach across the country. With this week’s announcement, Tegna joins other station groups expanding beyond their owned-and-operated markets to launch national brands, like NBC’s LX and ABC’s Localish. Verify, which grew out of an employee off-site brainstorming session six years ago, combines research and transparent sourcing to respond to timely questions in the news with a simple answer: true or false. The segments are produced by a central team as well as individual stations.
Verify, a six-year-old reporting project within Tegna that presents stories in direct response to viewer queries, is ramping up dramatically with an expanded national team and multiplatform iterations including younger-demo social platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. Adam Ostrow, Tegna’s chief digital officer, and Jonathan Forsythe, Verify’s managing editor, frame out its ambitions. Note: This story is available to TVNewsCheck Premium members only. If you would like to upgrade your free TVNewsCheck membership to Premium now, you can visit your Member Home Page, available when you log in at the very top right corner of the site or in the Stay Connected Box that appears in the right column of virtually every page on the site. If you don’t see Member Home, you will need to click Log In or Subscribe.
The station group taps Jonathan Forsythe as managing editor of its Verify anti-disinformation iniative. He will oversee the daily content production of Verify, including segments for television, web articles, social content and other products. He is also responsible for recruiting and managing Verify’s team of journalists, producers and audience-engagement specialists as well as working with Tegna stations to source story ideas and co-produce content.
The epidemic of misinformation helps Tegna check the box with new audiences. “Our audiences are consuming news and local news in a way that they never have before, where their lives literally depend on it,” says Ellen Crooke, Tegna’s VP of news. “They are desperate to find somebody without an agenda, without spin to take some of the things that are out there and help them be smarter about what’s true and what’s not true.”
The station group will work with First Draft to train its journalists to identify and verify false information online and help audiences spot misinformation. It will also expand its news fact-checking initiative Verify.
Tegna television stations use a segment called Verify to help news consumers discern what’s fact from fiction on social media. This is the second in a series about Tegna’s efforts to improve transparency and trust with viewers through its Verify project.