Newspapers should have regularly-updated lists of agreed-on facts


There’s fairly broad agreement that quoting public figures saying something wrong about Subject X in a news story, and then correcting the record on Subject X only in a follow-up fact-checking piece, is a lousy practice. After all, everyone reads the A1 story, but very few people read the A17 fact check. The current system just doesn’t work.

And yet, if you insist on real-time fact checking being done in news stories, then you have to do exactly what John suggests. Every news organization needs some kind of “fact manual” that provides the agreed-on facts for every conceivable assertion. The copy desk then has to ensure that these stylized facts are included in any story in which a public figure says something different.

Mother Jones is taking suggestions. 

Also, creating a “fact manual” piece of software would be a fun project. 

(Also, update my universe:  I was aware of Kevin Drum back in Ye Olde as a distinctly conservative blogger…yet now he’s with Mother Jones?  Am I confusing him with someone else, or did he have a Road to Damascus conversion, or is it one of those things liberals do of including conservatives for fairness even when conservative outlets don’t do the same?)  

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Lisa Williams

Founder of | Winner of Knight News Challenge | Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab | Cambridge, MA | @lisawilliams on Twitter | lisawilliams on Github