Checking in on Fact Checking

Friday, February 15, 2013


This election season, fact checking has become a story in itself. But what do we really know about how different media outlets fact-check their stories, and what could they be doing better? In a piece that ran in September of 2012, Brooke speaks with "This American Life" host Ira Glass, The New Yorker's Peter Canby,"All Things Considered" producer Chris Turpin and Poynter's Craig Silverman about the process of trying to get things right.



Peter Canby, Ira Glass, Craig Silverman and Chris Turpin

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [3]

Jillian Galloway

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy they had a fact checked exactly like you describe. I'm sure you've read the story. If you haven't, it's truly awesome!

Feb. 17 2013 08:09 PM
Jim from Brooklyn

I am constantly amazed by NPR's backhanded compliments for itself while deprecating other sources. So the Post screwed up and will not admit it-- is this news? No. But NPR cleverly turns this into a self congratulatory, better than thou moment by highlighting Glass's Immense pooch screwing on his Chinese Iphone coverage. It's really enough torture to have to listen to Glass's nasal whining in every story, but to find out this was such a mess is punishment doubled.
NPR makes gaffs all day long and even after listeners writing in continuously to correct them, nothing is done. An example among many: I have been listening to NPR personalities for YEARS stating over and over problems with citizens and criminals alike having access to "high powered" "military" "automatic" weapons. The AR-15's these fact ignorant NPR personalities constantly speak of day in and day out, year in and year out are not "military" or "automatic" nor is a .223 round anything but "high powered"-- it is in fact an intentionally low powered round designed that way to inflict maximum battlefield injuries, not deaths so other soldiers will be neutralized while carrying the soldier wounded with the relatively low power round. Almost all US states outlaw the .223 round for deer hunting because it is too low powered to humanely kill a 90 pound deer. And yes, the .223 is a valid and widely used small game and varmint round employed in scores of bolt action and single shot hunting purposed rifles. And I am no gun expert, but you'll find my facts correct.
This is just one example of hundreds I have heard repeated all day long by NPR's urbane radio personalities who think it well outside their prevue to actually learn whereof they speak. The NPR listener (I listen many hours a day for want of something better) can even feel the NPR host physically cringe in voice he or she is so repelled by anything gun related. This is just extremely unprofessional and listeners can not expect proper and accurate coverage of topics like gun control reporters and hired voices find so repellent as to not fact check. I think the inherent problem is that these personalities, in NYC feel it would embarrass them to have an honest grasp on a subject as anathema as guns. That's just sad.
I think it's shameful when NPR harps on other news agency's mistakes. In one way or another all news organizations are hacks, just be gentlemanly enough to not eat your own-- I think there's a saying about Glass houses..............

Feb. 17 2013 11:02 AM
Susanna from Boston

Fact checking in the media has become a deprecated feature of today's media. I will never forget when the New York Times discontinued it's standard errata on the inside page [p.2]. I wrote to them in true protest, not least because it was the sometimes the most interesting part of the paper, and certainly a key portion of the "newspaper of record". Digital media has made much of this moot, in the sense that there is little record that a digital organization does not wish to maintain. I pity future historians who will witness a current culture which is so unwilling to be human in it's accounts and recognize the inevitability of human error. QA and Editing can never make things perfect. Without the acceptance of errata, how can we freely go forward without being cripled with fear of being incorrect, or worse ... indifferent.

Feb. 16 2013 01:42 PM

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