Telum Talks To… Meeko Angela Camba, Reporter / Editor at VERA Files

Telum Talks To… Meeko Angela Camba, Reporter / Editor at VERA Files
George Putong

We speak with Meeko on the types of pitches that would be relevant for VERA Files, while getting a glimpse behind the organisation’s mission to combat disinformation.

Can you tell us a little more about VERA Files and its mission?
VERA Files is a 13-year-old independent media non-profit founded by veteran women journalists that undertakes in-depth reporting on relevant issues. Apart from covering social and political developments in the country, VERA Files aims to shed light on underreported issues, including road safety, the environment, and those concerning persons with disabilities, among others.

Since 2016, VERA Files has been combating misinformation and disinformation by fact-checking falsehoods, flip-flops, and misleading claims spread by public figures, as well as dubious and inaccurate content that goes viral online.

What kind of news content can readers expect from VERA Files?
A lot of our readers know VERA Files for its fact-checks. In this age of disinformation, our team seeks to provide a steady stream of factual and timely stories about issues that concern the public.

We also provide learning resources on fact-checking and online verification that are free and accessible to the public. Just go to our “Learning Corner” on our website for DIY guides, video tutorials, and more.

But as I have mentioned, VERA Files also produces content beyond fact-checking, including commentaries and in-depth stories on specialised issues.

There’s a lot to get done. Can you tell us what you do at VERA Files and what a typical workday looks like?
That’s true, there’s really a lot to get done especially as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic leading up to another election. For VERA Files’ fact-check team, a typical workday would involve a lot of monitoring for claims that need to be verified. This means checking for dubious pieces of content that are widely circulating on social media or other online platforms, and going over press statements, briefings, and interviews of public personalities.

Once we’ve selected claims that need to be prioritised for fact-checking (we have a criteria for this), our reporters would draft the stories, which would then go through a stringent editing process before being published.

What makes VERA Files stand out from other news organisations?
I would say VERA Files always strives to produce stories that take a deeper look on the issues that Filipinos are facing. It does not try to compete with other media organisations in breaking the news, but rather aims to help the public understand it in a more comprehensive way.

What are some upcoming plans for VERA Files?
We’ve recently launched a newsletter and a verified Viber community that readers can join. If you’d like to be updated on new stories or activities, such as fact-check workshops, do sign up and join here and here (they’re free!).

We’re also planning to launch a new misinformation tip line on Viber soon so it would be easier for people to send in their fact-check requests.

VERA Files is independent and nonpartisan. However, is the team open to receiving story pitches or leads from other news orgs and PRs? What stories will catch your attention?
VERA Files welcomes leads from the public, including other news organisations or PR firms, for potential stories and fact-checks. If you encounter any statement or post that you’d want us to verify, we’d love to hear from you (see here for more information).

We’d also be interested in pitches or leads concerning public health (including COVID-19 matters), the tobacco industry, road safety, the environment, and issues and rights of persons with disabilities.

With all the work you do, how do you take care of yourself? Any advice for the stressed writer?
I know with everything going on, it can sometimes feel like we can’t afford to stop. But I’ve learned the hard way that it does not help to wait until you run out of gas before taking a break.

One thing that has worked for me is setting aside at least an hour or two every day that I can spend for myself. Or, if it’s a really busy day, squeezing in even just 20 minutes of peace and quiet can make a big difference.

Telum Media gives journalists a platform to share their experiences in the newsroom and out in the field. If you would like to share your story or nominate someone to be featured, email us at philippinesalert@telummedia.com​​

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