Editing for Facts

Facts are the most important part of the story, so they should be correct at all times. The most frequent errors found in articles are names, dates, locations, and descriptions of past events. Reference books are very beneficial in helping to fact-check for stories. Journalists should be cautious of every source they use in their stories, especially on the internet. When searching around for facts, journalists can turn to publishers of reference works. They are reliable because they have established reputations, even in online forms. Journalists can employ search engines, metasearch engines and directories to help them sift through the internet for sources.

To help assess which sources are more trustworthy than others, a journalist just needs to know internet domains, and recognize the purposes for individual web pages. The URL helps determine the domain. Information found in sites with .gov or .edu rank higher in reliability than those that do not. A web page’s purpose also helps a journalist figure out the trustworthiness of the source. A web page can be used for advocacy, marketing and news. It could also be a personal page, or simply informational. Extreme caution should be used with all web sources, and some should be avoided completely, like blogs that contain wrong information and opinionated work. Social networks can also be used as sources, but they should also be used carefully.

Source: “Creative Editing” by Dorothy A. Bowles and Diane L. Borden