Fact checker

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A fact checker is the person who checks factual assertions in non-fictional text, usually intended for publication in a periodical, to determine their veracity and correctness. The job requires general knowledge and the ability to conduct quick and accurate research.

The resources and time needed for fact-checking means that this work is not done at most newspapers, where reporters' timely ability to correct and verify their own data and information is chief among their qualifications. Publications issued on weekly, monthly, or infrequent bases are more likely to employ fact-checkers.

Fact-checking, known as "research" at many publications, is most critical for those publishing material written by authors who are not trained reporters — such writers being more likely to make professional, ethical, or mere factual mistakes. Fact-checking methods vary; some publications have neither the staff nor the budget needed for verifying every claim in a given article. Others will attempt just that, going so far as communicating with the authors' sources to review the content of quotations.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, German weekly Der Spiegel runs "most likely the world’s largest fact checking operation", employing the equivalent of eighty full-time fact checkers as of 2010.[1]

Typically, fact-checking is an entry-level publishing job at major magazines; fact-checker jobs at The New Yorker are considered prestigious and can lead to higher-level positions, usually at other magazines.[citation needed]

Among the benefits of printing only checked copy is that it averts serious, sometimes costly, problems, e.g. lawsuits and discreditation. Fact checkers are primarily useful in catching accidental mistakes; they are not guaranteed safeguards against those who wish to commit journalistic frauds, such as Stephen Glass (who began his journalism career as a fact-checker). The fact checkers at The New Republic and other weeklies never flagged the numerous fictions in Glass's reportage. Michael Kelly, who edited some of Glass's concocted stories, blamed himself, rather than the fact-checkers:

"Any fact-checking system is built on trust. . . . If a reporter is willing to fake notes, it defeats the system. Anyway, the real vetting system is not fact-checking but the editor."[2]

History[edit]

Fact checking began in the early 20th century: "Any bright girl who really applies herself to the handling of the checking problem can have a very pleasant time with it and fill the week with happy moments and memorable occasions" - Ed Kennedy, Time (1920s). By the 1930s a fact checking department became a symbol of establishment among publications.

Modern innovations[edit]

Digital technology opens the doors for new levels of scalability both in terms of fact generation and dissemination. There are even organizations and services such as FactCheck, PolitiFact, and NewsTrust's Truth Squad dedicated entirely to fact checking. Craig Newmark of Craigslist is making major pushes for new fact checking tools and is searching for projects that will provide "information he can trust."

Prominent fact checkers[edit]

Individuals[edit]

Organizations and websites[edit]

United States

European Union

  • FactCheckEU.org:[23] "FactCheckEU is Europe's first crowd-checking platform. It is born out of the belief that as the EU becomes ever more integrated it becomes increasingly essential to develop watchdogs capable of monitoring the political debate." [24] Created January 2014

United Kingdom

  • Full Fact:[25] An independent fact checking organisation based in the UK which aims to "promote accuracy in public debate", launched in 2009.
  • The FactCheck blog:[26] A fact checking blog run by the Channel 4 News organisation.

Latin America

  • Chequeado.com:[27] Argentine fact-checking website.
  • Rete al candidato:[28] Rete al candidato is the first political fact checking digital platform in Central America. It is based in Costa Rica and was launched in 2013 by the weekly newspaper El Financiero to monitor the political debate of the 2014 presidential elections in that country. It is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Other countries

  • Africa Check:[29] a South Africa-based organisation checking claims made by public figures in Africa.
  • Les Décodeurs:[30] French fact-checking blog run by Le Monde.
  • Pagella Politica:[31] an Italian fact-checking website.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Craig Silverman: Inside the World’s Largest Fact Checking Operation. A conversation with two staffers at Der Spiegel, Columbia Journalism Review, April 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Dowd, Ann Reilly (1998). Columbia Journalism Review http://archives.cjr.org/year/98/4/glass.asp |url= missing title (help). [dead link]
  3. ^ http://www.bookmouth.com/choi.html
  4. ^ "William Gaddis (American author) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  5. ^ "CNN.com – Transcripts". Transcripts.cnn.com. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Sean Wilsey – About Sean Wilsey – Penguin Group (USA)". Us.penguingroup.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ [3][dead link]
  10. ^ "News & Features | Rees’s pieces". Bostonphoenix.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  11. ^ "Swarthmore College Bulletin (July 2011)". Swarthmore.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  12. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. The New York Times http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/k/david_d_kirkpatrick/index.html |url= missing title (help). 
  13. ^ Skurnick, Lizzie. "Content". Mediabistro.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  14. ^ "St. Petersburg Times Online". Politifact.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  15. ^ Rucker, Philip. "Fact Checker". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  16. ^ Kessler, Glenn. "About the Fact Checker - Fact Checker". Blog.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  17. ^ "washingtonpost.com Launches "FactChecker"". Findarticles.com. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  18. ^ Rucker, Philip. "Fact Checker". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  19. ^ Kessler, Glenn (2012-07-19). "Welcome to the new Fact Checker". The Washington Post. 
  20. ^ "Bama Fact Check". www.bamafactcheck.com. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  21. ^ "FactCheckED.org". FactCheckED.org. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  22. ^ "About Us". FactCheckED.org. Retrieved 2009-06-07. [dead link]
  23. ^ "FactCheckEU.org". FactCheckEU.org. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  24. ^ "About US". FactCheckEU.org. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  25. ^ "Full Fact". FullFact.org. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  26. ^ "The FactCheck Blog". Channel 4. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  27. ^ "Chequeado.com: Fiel defensor de los hechos". Lanacion.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  28. ^ "El Financiero lanzó aplicación para retar a los candidatos presidenciales". elfinancierocr.com. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  29. ^ Lyman, Rick (2013-07-23). "Nonpartisan Fact-Checking Comes to South Africa". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  30. ^ "Fact-checking blogs turn up heat on French candidates". France 24. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  31. ^ "Italian politics: Pinocchio's heirs". The Economist. 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Columbia Journalism Review on Stephen Glass[dead link]
  • Silverman, Craig. Note: on March 1, 2012, Google's Safe Browsing utility blocked the following website, with a comprehensive secuity warning which read in part: "Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer." The external link referred to for the conference report is at: www.regrettheerror.com/2010/04/09/top-fact-checkers-and-news-accuracy-experts-gather-in-Germany/ "Top fact checkers and news accuracy experts gather in Germany" "Regret the error", April 9, 2010 (Report about a conference on fact checking)