Feeling Anxious About the News? Don’t Worry, VERIFY Creates Brand Trust Among Local & National Audiences 

For TEGNA, public trust, truth, and transparency have enormous value, and initiatives like VERIFY help extend the news-trust halo to brand advertisers by helping the public distinguish between true and false information. VERIFY’s Jonathan Forsythe, Managing Editor of VERIFY, is here to explain how the VERIFY team gains the trust of local audiences around the country.  

Meredith Cunningham Published: March 25, 2022

By Jonathan Forsythe, Managing Editor of VERIFY 

Misinformation is false or inaccurate information. Disinformation is false information that is intended to mislead.  How big a problem is mis/disinformation? Dictionary.com chose ‘misinformation’ as its word of the year in 2018 – due to the proliferation of falsehoods that governments, businesses, and the public grappled with how to contain across platforms.  And that was two years before the COVID-19 pandemic and three years before ‘The Big Lie’ and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.  More recently disinformation was used by Russian president Vladimir Putin to justify the invasion of Ukraine.   

VERIFY is Tegna’s commitment to truth and transparency. Originally conceived at a 2015 innovation summit as a way to better gain the trust of our local viewers, VERIFY has grown into a national brand and is available across linear, digital, and social platforms and products to help the public distinguish between true and false information.   

Public trust, truth, and transparency have enormous value, and initiatives like VERIFY help cultivate a feeling of confidence for audiences, extending the news-trust halo to brand advertisers, which describes the brand lift marketers see when advertising in the news. The more trusted the news source, the more influential the halo. 

The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, researches claims that need verification or clarification and provides trustworthy, credible information to prove or disprove them.  Sources are always provided at the top of each story, allowing the audience transparency into the process. 

Each VERIFY story includes a clear claim or question at the top, along with the sources, to clearly delineate to our audience where our information comes from.   

The national VERIFY staff is dispersed across all four time zones in the U.S. and come together to discuss the day’s plans and assignments in daily editorial video conferences.  From there, stories are pitched, assigned, and slotted into a schedule to publish across digital, linear, and social platforms. 

Fielding and answering questions is a priority so the team engages with our audience daily across email, social and via our text product.   

Misinformation is ubiquitous online and across mediums.  As such, VERIFY has taken an intentional approach to produce fact-based stories debunking or verifying claims on multiple platforms. The stories that publish to verifythis.com also appear across social accounts and our daily email newsletter – which delivers an audience ‘Question of the Day’ and three ‘Fast Facts’ to your inbox each weekday morning.  Most stories are also produced into videos and shared with our TEGNA stations to run in local news broadcasts and get published to VERIFY’s YouTube and OTT channels and natively to Twitter and Facebook. VERIFY also produces vertical videos for its popular Snapchat Discover channel, Instagram and TikTok.  

To extend our reach even further in the upcoming months, VERIFY will translate into Spanish-language content, expand into long-form shows for OTT, and debut a new documentary-style in the field.  

With initiatives like VERIFY, and a mission statement to serve our local communities’ greater good, TEGNA is fully committed to creating credible, accurate, transparent, and trustworthy content. According to a 2021 study, audiences in the US are more likely to trust local news than national news, and VERIFY is a testament to that. We effectively extend that news-trust halo to our advertisers by helping audiences separate fact from fiction and preserve their trust.  

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