As online news progresses towards speed over accuracy, and clicks over content, a career fact-checker describes and reflects.
“Fact checking has made me more careful, skeptical, and rigorous in my reporting. Mostly, though, it’s made me more afraid, as I stare down the barrel of a career that will likely soon land me working for outlets with small budgets and no fact checkers. But when I’m writing without the safety net of a checker (or even with), I have an arsenal of things to watch out for. I know what’s easy to get wrong — names, dates, and all the rest. I’m quick to pick up the phone when I’m feeling unsure about a detail. But mostly, I know how easy it is to make a mistake, because I have seen so many of them.”