Stephan Glass — Photo Courtesy of Google Images
While our media today has an obvious opinion slant, most of the information that is reported is factual. Most news has statistics, events, and a corresponding reaction that is hard to fudge in any way. Editors are responsible for fact-checking, or checking for the truth and accuracy of the information presented in their writer’s piece. Failing to do so, or publishing, reporting, or posting of false information as true can ruin the reputation and credibility of the publisher. A prime example of this would be the actions and stories of Stephan Glass at the New Republic. Once a very credible political magazine now struggles it’s way back to the ranks of the political news elite because of Glass’ incredibly realistic yet fabricated tales of what went on behind the scenes during political conferences and other high profile events.
Facts should always be true — Photo Courtesy of Google Images
According to a blog contributed by several high profile editors, editing for grammar is just as important as editing for facts. The author of the post, a fiction editor, Beth Hill states that while grammar can tie a writer in knots, it is the framework of a story and keeps it from being words just slopped together. She also states that it is important for a writer to be at least proficient in using grammar and punctation in order for his or her pieces to makes sense and be clear to a public. Hill goes on to note that once should treat grammar like a craftsman treats his tools, keeping them in mint and updated condition.
The American Press Institute states that fact-checking is the very root in which journalism is based. In their article, they talk to Angie Drobnic Holan from PolitiFact, the home of the Truth-O-Meter. This meter, developed in 2007 was pushed through their organization because there was overwhelming belief that there was not enough fact checking in journalism to begin with. In order to cover the 2008 election in a new way, the Truth-O-Meter was born.
The Truth-O-Meter — Photo Courtesy of Google Images
The Truth-O-Meter takes soundbites or quotes from politicians, leaders, and even talking heads for certain organizations and checks the overall accuracy and relevancy of the statement and is posted online. The ratings consist of true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false, and the damning “pants of fire” ratings for a statement that is completely bogus. The fact checkers brought the 2008 election into a whole new light with their meter, enlightening to the public to the talking game and rumor mill that politics could really be.
trust.org, the webpage that is sponsored by the Thomas Reuters Foundation, posted an actable as well about the importance of fact-checking in journalism. The author, David Brewer notes that journalism, as he defines it, is about collecting facts, interrupting their importance, and sharing that information with an audience. He also notes that any fact collected should be put against the “two reliable source” test. This is defined as the idea that the fact you have collected, maybe from an interview or from a press conference must be backed up against another source with the same information. This means notes, the wire, a direct quote from the interviewee, anything that proves your fact as true and accurate. The only time in which this rule can be broken, is for breaking news that needs to be published or announced in time that will not allow for a through fact check. For the story following the announcement of the breaking news, all facts and information must be verified.
Everyday is Grammar Day — Photo Courtesy of Google Images
There are many different ways to fact check and many articles on the possible controversy of fact-checking and what crossesoutlets the line between real and entertainment. All and all, one can note that fact-checking has now become just as important as editing for clarity, conciseness, and grammatical correctness. Grammar has been taught to many of us all our lives, in every institution we step foot in. Fact-checking could almost be considered an art or a science today with the many and resources that are available for information. Every writer must remember the consequences of fabricating information, because the credibility of your publisher is not worth the price of a good story. Just ask Stephan Glass.