Fact Check Your Mother

“If your mother says she loves you, check it out” -this adage is often repeated in journalism classes around the world to reinforce the importance of fact-checking and verifying information to students. In 2017, 2nd year RMIT Journalism students brought this adage to the digital world by using their research, data-gathering and verification skills to fact-check a family story.

The students were guided through training in using fact checking to not only verify stories, but also to improve and enrich them by adding forgotten or inaccurate details.

The students were trained in how to use digital tools and techniques to verify physical evidences such as photos, think deeply and strategically about paper trails (how records and documents are created and lead to one another) and how to handle incomplete memories and records of an event when putting a story together.
The students then publish these stories online from scratch by using their knowledge of digital story design, HTML5, CSS and various online publishing tools such as TimelineJS and Google Maps to tell engaging stories that are informative as well as entertaining for a wider audience or for their family.

The result is a collection of online stories that explore the complexity of Australian families and history, ranging from a secret love story from the Second Fleet, a legendary tram driver, gruelling boat journeys of those seeking asylum and many others. The students also publish their reflection on producing the stories, allowing them to think about issues of empathy in journalism and how to think about their place in the world when covering stories of migration in the contemporary world.

Below are some of the stories (more to come!).

The Wave

“We could trust the family, but not anyone else, even best friends. You never knew if they would turn on you or report you.”

- Lisa Divissi -

. . .

"At the time, owning a compass was illegal due to the mass exodus of people escaping by boat. They were in high demand and as precious as gold. Chung managed to obtain one off the black market..."

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My Fake Last Name

Jasmine Mee Lee

. . .

"With the influx of people migrating to Australia, the governing bodies had to deal with the complexities of different languages and name structures."

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Robert
the Red

Michael Wastell

. . .

"I'll tell you the story of Jack and the Glory if you don't speak in the middle of it"

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Il Conduttore E La Sarta

Anthony Furci

. . .

"He fluked the English test and got straight to work. He'd often sing songs, becoming well known along the north-western tram lines where he worked."

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0
There are currently
0
people in Australia


The Life of Jane Whippy

"My grandfather was raised on the plantation, and was treated as one of the family– there was only ten years between him and Jane’s youngest sister, Lou. During this time, very little about Grandad’s father was discussed. He had been born out of wedlock, and originally had his father’s surname– he was born Frank Valentine."

- Sarah Krieg -

The Life of Jane Whippy

“No one knew I was coming, back then there were no telephones there… Elijah told the family I had come back home. They were so pleased to see me, I remember Sarah was working in the kitchen. She came running out to see me… we were all laughing and crying to see each other after so long, I was so happy to be back home again with my family.”

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Love in the Time of War and Kilts

Georgia Bell

. . .

"With every action that drew him deeper into war the distance to home grew longer and longer. "

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More than
0 million
of them were born overseas

Barkmeyer: A Family Name

Bonnie Barkmeyer

. . .

"I instantly know that Ted Barkmeyer is a member of my family. We walk inside his house to see a table scattered with documents."

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How Old was Popeye?

"Depending on when you asked him, Francis 'Popeye' Crowley had three birthdays. In his 75 years of life, Frank changed his age twice. Once to make him older, once to make him younger. He lived in two countries and fought in two world wars. He had seven children, one wife, and no luck catching fish."

- Maeve Kerr-Crowley -

. . .

"He enlisted on the 26th of June, 1940. At the time, he was 38 years old, 5 feet 7 inches, missing two joints from his little finger, and was declared fit for service. He would once again fight in a World War, but this time for the Australian Imperial Force.

Frank was deployed to the Middle East and served as a Sapper, a soldier responsible for tasks like building and reparation, or laying and clearing mines. But there’s very little his family knows about his time there. Like a lot of returned servicemen, he never spoke about the places he’d been or things he’d done during the war."

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0

Nave
Neptunia

Kristen Pegoraro

. . .

"In that time, there was only one place where she felt she could get Italian food from and that was a Deli and butcher in Buckley Street."

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John Ensor: The Captain, Crew or Passenger?

Summer Wooley

. . .

"The only known image of John Ensor depicts him wearing what appears to be a Captain’s hat, giving rise to the original family story. It is, however, unlikely he was a Captain."

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A History of the Troughton Family

Alanah Frost

. . .

"As an enthusiastic teenager Frederic landed in Melbourne in the late 1880s and made his way to the rural town of Silverton, South Australia (now New South Wales). Booming from recent expeditions in the Barrier Ranges, Silverton's once-tiny population of 250 residents exploded in the 1880s as mining opportunities arose and a major railway was established."

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Becoming a Ten-Pound Pom

Gracyn Willoughby-McEwan

. . .

"With his wife of five years and two young children to consider, Alistair's sole impetus to leave Scotland came in the form of an advertisement asking for soccer players to join a soccer club in Queensland"

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More to come!