A standard accuracy checklist providing guidelines during the story assignment process remains a missing link in many B2B editors fact-checking process. A recent issue of ASBPE’s Ethics News Updates newsletter called attention to best-known checklists examples developed by Craig Silverman and Steve Buttry.
Additional approaches to follow were suggested during fact-checking sessions held during the March 25-27 American Copy Editors Society conference. One highlight was the session — 7 Steps to setting up a new and better fact-checking process — delivered by American Press Institute senior research manager Jane Elizabeth. At one point in her discussion, Elizabeth suggested NPR’s approach as a possible role model:
- Superlatives: If something is said to be the”first,” “last,” “best,” “only,” “oldest,” “youngest” etc., that claim must be verified. If it can’t be, the claim should be deleted or qualified — and clearly attributed.
- Personal Names: Verify them, spell them correctly (for radio and the Web) and confirm pronunciations.
- Ages: Get a person’s date of birth and do the math.
- Titles: President, CEO, professor, etc. They must be accurate.
- Names of businesses, schools and institutions
- Days and dates: Are you sure this happened then?
- Historical ‘facts’: Are you sure this happened that way?
- Locations: Is that where this happened? Is that where this person is from?
- Numbers and calculations: Do the math yourself. Should it be millions, billions or trillions? Is the decimal in the correct place? Is it percent or percentage point?
- Quotes: They must be attributed to the right person.
- Web addresses and telephone numbers: They have to be tested.
- Grammar and spelling: Note: What goes in a radio script may end up on the Web.
While all the above considerations have merit, matters pertaining to SUPERLATIVES and NUMBERS clearly deserve inclusion in any accuracy checklist you devise. Further, your checklist could be incorporated into your in-house editorial ethics policy if such a document exists.
What factors do you believe unique to B2B should be part of an accuracy checklist? Send your suggestions to me: email@example.com. Better yet, list them as a comment to this discussion so other ASBPE LinkedIn group members can get the benefit of your thinking.
P.S. — For further fact-checking guidance from Jane Elizabeth, please read this exclusive interview with her recently appearing in Ethics News Updates.