Fact Checking for Librarians Presented by Librarians of Radical Reference www.radicalreference.info January 2005 Slide 2 2 fact checking 101 Someone other than the reporter filing the story verifies all factual material prior to publication so that: The work cant be dismissed as propaganda or rumor Legal risks associated with printing inaccuracies can be avoided An even more interesting story might be discovered Sources are kept happy Embarrassmentor worsecan be avoided Determine and highlight all facts in a story Go beyond spelling and dateslook for causal links, attributions, reporter assumptions, facts contained within quotes, and memories Evaluate sources used by the reporter Confirm everything, using multiple sources for controversial facts Slide 3 3 getting started Read through the story once to get a sense of the content Read the story again, using a highlighter to indicate all facts that must be checked Names Dates Attributions Causal links Facts within quotes Reporter assumptions Memories Slide 4 4 meeting with the journalist Discuss sources and potential areas of concern Identify which sources were used for which part of the story Go fact by fact through the story, using additional sources when possible Quoteschecked or not? Note changes so that they're easily identifiable Slide 5 5 post-check Discuss the story a final time. Pay particular attention to substantive changes You are concerned with accuracy. Suggestions about reworking the story will relate solely to factual issues. Unless the editorial policy dictates otherwise, it's the reporter's name on the story, and his/her final call. Save a copy of the article and source materials. Slide 6 6 Critical thinking: evaluating different types of resources Books Serials magazines (Newsweek, the Nation, World Press Review) [scholarly] journals (Third World Journal, American Political Science Review) trade publications (Library Journal, Pig International) Newspapers (The New York Times, the Daily News) Websites Advocacy (FAIR, Prison Activist Resource Center) Business (Monsanto, The New York Times Company)MonsantoThe New York Times Company News (IndyMedia, Fox News)IndyMediaFox News Informational (American Heritage Dictionary, Critical Mass)American Heritage Dictionary Personal (Makezine, Street Librarian) Databases Subscription Commercial (Academic Universe, MasterFILE PremierUse NYPL for local access nypl.org/databasesMasterFILE Premier Scholarly (PAIS International, Alternative Press Index) Free(ish) Commercial (New York Times, the Guardian)New York Times Government (American Factfinder, Library of Congress American Memory)American Memory Slide 7 7 evaluation criteria Authority (auspices) Accuracy Objectivity (perspective, bias) Currency (time, not money) Coverage (scope, mission) Much of the evaluation section was inspired by or taken directly from Evaluating Web Resources by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate which can be found at http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial- Library/webevaluation/webeval.htmJan Alexander http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial- Library/webevaluation/webeval.htm Slide 8 8 alternative resources Commercial subscription databases are freely available and accessible from home to many public library card holders and at branch and research libraries to anyone who walks in Access government and legal information, newspapers and magazine, statistical and business information, and alternative indexes Use materials that will be provided in the next two skill shares: 1:30-2 Alternative Resources. Presented by the world renowned Jessamyn West.Jessamyn West 2-2:30 Alternative Libraries and Infoshops. Presented by Shinjoung Yeo. Slide 9 9 accessing the databases Arranged alphabetically, by subject, and by document type (e.g., full-text) Icons indicate from where databases can be accessed Check other area public libraries and their database collections: www.brooklynpubliclibrary.orgwww.brooklynpubliclibrary.org www.queenspublic.orgwww.queenspublic.org Ask a reference librarian Slide 10 10 radical reference www.radicalreference.info --Ask a reference question --Links to radical information sources --Search archive of questions fact_IMC.ppt, factchk.doc on Radical Reference site under files on the left of the page. Slide 11 11 Integrating fact checking into your production schedule While investigatingpost research queries to Radical Reference, but try to give us enough time to come up with a quality response. Follow up, if necessary. Rout stories to fact checking or "research" during the editorial process. Arrange to have one or more librarians in- house or offsite, but dedicated to the project during production. Slide 12 12 contact us firstname.lastname@example.org this presentation on the web: http://radicalreference.info/node/479 Look for us in the streets during demonstrations. Well be wearing hats with the Radical Reference logo.