Numbers: Pay attention to any numbers you cite. Triple-check your math, the database or your sources.
Highlight each proper noun.
Highlight each fact. If I have realities from several sources, I like to use various colors of pens for each. Ill use a red pen to underline truths from Source 1, a green pen to underline facts from Source 2 and a blue pen to underline truths from Source 3.
Circle every number. (Numbers always trip me up, so I like to triple-check these!).
Superlatives: If someone states something is the “initially,” “only” or “top,” that need to set off your fact-checking alarm bells. Unless you can definitely confirm this claim, use softer language (e.g. “a well-known restaurant”) or associate the claim to its source (e.g. “The owner, Earl, says this is the very first restaurant of its kind.”).
Ages: If youre consisting of somebodys age, ask if they have a birthday turning up. It might be theyre 32 now, however in 2 weeks, before your short article is released, theyll turn 33.
Fact-checking has actually constantly been an important part of the reporting, writing and publishing process, but with so much misinformation floating around, its more crucial now than ever to submit and release accurate info.
Unfortunately, a lot of us full-time and independent bloggers and authors do not have the high-end of working with a personal fact-checker. Even newsrooms, publications and digital publications have been required to cut spending plans, ejecting devoted fact-checkers and researchers.
That leaves us, the authors, to fact-check our own work. This can be difficult– stepping away from your own work and scrutinizing every detail from a new viewpoint– but its possible.
How to fact-check a short article you composed: a 5-step guide
I spent an excellent portion of my life fact-checking when I was in grad school studying journalism. At that time, it felt taxing and tedious.
Now I understand the value of fact-checking, and having the skill has actually pushed me to end up being a much better press reporter and author in not only my full-time function, but likewise my freelance tasks and side blogging task.
Now, do I do a thorough fact-check of every single thing I publish to the web? Not always. I wont go through this entire process if Im writing a listicle for my blog about things I do to sleep better. Nevertheless, if Im submitting a post for a widely known publication on a fairly dissentious or made complex topic, Ill definitely sink time into fact-checking.
In an effort to get rid of misinformation, angry commenters and embarrassing correction notes, here are some actions you can take to fact-check your own work before submitting it to an editor or clicking “publish.”.
1. Step far from the keyboard.
Fact-checking is a lot like self-editing. When youre so engrossed in a piece of content, its often challenging to step back and spot errors and disparities. Youre too near to the work.
Thats why, if you arent working under a tight due date, its ideal to put a long time in between writing and fact-checking. Im talking about physically stepping away from your computer.
Go consume lunch, view an episode of your favorite TV program or, even better, get a good night of sleep. Putting that space in between you and your material will help you approach it through the lens of a fact-checker– not a writer.
2. Ctrl+ P your short article and grab your most vibrant pens.
If you have access to a printer, print your article before yanking on your fact-checking hat.
This might sound a little old-school (its definitely something I discovered from paper and publication veterans), but viewing your overcome a various medium– AKA not your screen– will assist you take a look at it from a different perspective.
Get some highlighters and vibrant pens because its time to get hectic as soon as youve got a tough copy in hand. Heres what I do:.
Chances are, your short article will quickly end up being covered in colorful highlights, circles around and highlights. Thats ideal. Now its time to actually dive in.
P.S. Its not completion of the world if you do not have a printer. You can still underline and highlight text in a Word or Google doc– you simply may need to somewhat customize. This is everything about discovering your own system, so do what works best for you!
3. Validate claims and facts.
When fact-checking, it might feel most natural to simply begin at the leading and work your way down. If Ive talked to or mentioned multiple sources for an article, in some cases I will fact-check by source.
For a sources name, Ill ask them to spell it for me. For other appropriate nouns Ill verify the spelling through respectable online sources.
Then, Ill dive into the numbers and realities.
Simply a fast sidebar: In the reporting and writing procedure, youll wish to ensure youre citing details from genuine professional sources. For example, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a helpful tool, but you may not always find the most competent or objective sources. Truly research your sources and pointed out materials upfront, so you can make certain you do not need to go back to the drawing board during the fact-checking procedure.
If youre fact-checking information from someone youve talked to, follow up with an e-mail or a phone call. To confirm their declarations, ask open-ended concerns like, “How do you understand that?” or “How did you come to that conclusion?” You can also ask them questions to confirm specific details like, “Can you explain the car again?” or “Do you mind describing the procedure one more time?” You can also refer back to the interview recording or transcript, if you have it.
If youre fact-checking details you got online, confirm those sources to ensure what you write is accurate which the site is reliable. Keep in mind: its essential to get as near to the original source as possible. If a website pointed out The New York Times, thats fantastic, but its finest to find the initial post.
4. Keep a close eye on ….
As you fact-check your work, here are a few things youll desire to pay very close attention to:.
Conclusions: If youre making any sort of conclusion ask yourself: How did I arrive? Ensure you didnt make any dives. As an author, when youre deep in a story, its easy to make assumptions, however as a fact-checker, its your job to connect all the pieces and ensure theyre accurate.
5. Do a gut check.
At the end of the day, if youre having a hard time to verify a claim, do a gut check. Does something feel off?
I generally play by the guideline, “When in doubt, toss it out.” If you absolutely cant verify something, its better to get rid of it– no matter how fascinating or “clicky” it is– than to run the risk of publishing inaccurate details.
You can also constantly go back to the drawing board. Its not ideal, but you can ask your sources who else you ought to consult with and get third and 2nd opinions. Sure, itll take some time, but fact-checking your own work will make you a better, more credible author, freelancer and blogger– and your editors will love you.
Got your own fact-checking techniques? Share them in the comments listed below!
Photo by means of Andrey_Popov/ Shutterstock.
If Im submitting a short article for a popular publication on a fairly divisive or made complex topic, Ill absolutely sink time into fact-checking.
Ill use a red pen to underline truths from Source 1, a green pen to highlight truths from Source 2 and a blue pen to highlight realities from Source 3.
When fact-checking, it might feel most natural to just start at the leading and work your method down. Actually research your sources and pointed out products upfront, so you can make sure you do not have to go back to the drawing board during the fact-checking procedure.
If youre fact-checking information you got online, verify those sources to ensure what you compose is accurate and that the website is trusted.