Macleay Loves a Challenge!

The Verification Challenge is a competition administered by The Walkley Foundation for Journalism, which manages the Google News Initiative Training Network in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. 

Journalists and journalism students from these areas can enter the competition solo or in a team of up to 5 members. It runs for 12 weeks, started on the 14th of June, and we are just about to enter our last week. 

Every week we receive a puzzle, that usually consists of a picture and a question. The puzzles are made to grow our skills in open-source intelligence (OSINT), fact-checking and verification.

What are the rules? 

We have to use our journalism and investigation skills to solve the puzzles and send the answer back in one week. Only one answer per question can be submitted. 

For a correct answer we receive 5 points, for an incorrect answer we lose 5 points, and if we fail to send an answer, we get 0 points. So, every week we work hard to get our answers right! 

At the end of the challenge, whoever has the most points wins. Hopefully, that will be our team! While I’m writing this we are tied in the first position with 65 points to the A B See team. 

What could you win? 

All they are offering us so far is the fun to be in the competition and upgrade our skills. The Walkley Foundation dropped a hint that there might be a surprise for the winner, let’s wait and see. If we win, I’ll be glad to receive whatever they have for us. 

How did you become involved in the Macleay Melbourne team? 

On the last day of Multiplatform Writing class on Term 2, our teacher Tim Young sold us the idea of entering the competition. I must say he was great at it and convinced me right away. He kept saying it would be fun, and a great thing to add to our resumes, so I couldn’t miss it. 

I am actually studying a Bachelor of Digital Media, but since I have some journalism classes the Melbourne team accepted me with open arms. 

What do you think contributes to the success of your team? 

Definitely teamwork. There are three students in the group, me, Zathia Bazeer, and Jack Murray. Sue Stephenson from the Journalism Program is our mentor and a great help. I’m truly grateful for being part of such an amazing team that never shies away from collaborating. 

What are your favourite parts of this competition? 

I’d say the variety of completely crazy and random things we have to do to solve the puzzles. From searching for planes in the desert of California on Google Earth to getting in touch with people in Ukraine to confirm the launching place of a drone. It’s always a surprise and the puzzles are full of tricks. 

What are your least favourite parts of this competition? 

Honestly, as I’m thinking about this answer, I don’t believe there’s a downside to it. It’s fun, and we work as a team, pulling the threads of each other, searching for clues and answers. Maybe the fact that there are no big prizes, but who knows? We might be surprised! I have my fingers crossed. 

What do you hope to do with your career in the future?

I’d love to make a career in copywriting. My ultimate dream is to do some scriptwriting and work in the movies industry. On a shorter-term plan, get out of lockdown, finally mingle with students and teachers at Macleay College and do some networking. I’ve been working hard on my assessments, studying and learning lots, so I can’t wait to put all this knowledge to practice on my next job. At least now after this challenge, I can rest assured that if everything goes wrong, I can pursue a career as an investigator!

By Amelia De Oliveira Rodrigues

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