“A column by Glenn Garvin on Dec. 20 stated that the National Science Foundation ‘funded a study on Jell-O wrestling at the South Pole.’ That is incorrect. The event took place during off-duty hours without NSF permission and did not involve taxpayer funds.”
Corrections such as this one from the Miami Herald have become a familiar sight for readers, especially as news cycles demand faster and faster publication. While some factual errors can be humorous, they nonetheless erode the credibility of the writer and the organization. And the pressure for accuracy and accountability is increasing at the same time as in-house resources for fact-checking are dwindling. Anyone who needs or wants to learn how to verify names, numbers, quotations, and facts is largely on their own.
Enter The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, an accessible, one-stop guide to the why, what, and how of contemporary fact-checking. Brooke Borel, an experienced fact-checker, draws on the expertise of more than 200 writers, editors, and fellow checkers representing the New Yorker, Popular Science, This American Life, Vogue, and many other outlets. She covers best practices for fact-checking in a variety of media—from magazine articles, both print and online, to books and documentaries—and from the perspective of both in-house and freelance checkers. She also offers advice on navigating relationships with writers, editors, and sources; considers the realities of fact-checking on a budget and checking one’s own work; and reflects on the place of fact-checking in today’s media landscape.
“If journalism is a cornerstone of democracy, then fact-checking is its building inspector,” Borel writes. The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking is the practical—and thoroughly vetted—guide that writers, editors, and publishers need to maintain their credibility and solidify their readers’ trust.
About the Author
Brooke Borel is a contributing editor to Popular Science and a freelance science journalist. She teaches fact-checking at the Brooklyn Brainery. Borel is the author of Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World, also from the University of Chicago Press.
“Every journalist, editor, and nonfiction book writer should have a familiarity with best practices of fact-checking. This is an exhaustive yet highly readable guide by a knowledgeable author.”
— David Zweig, author of Invisibles and former Condé Nast fact-checker
“Few aspects of journalism are as complicated as fact checking. Brooke Borel’s mantra is ‘Think like a fact checker.’ This useful book will help you navigate the shoals.”
— Peter Canby, author of The Heart of the Sky: Travels Among the Maya and New Yorker fact-checking director
“The volume of publishing is so overwhelming—and the quality often questionable—that readers easily give up on an author’s piece as soon as they hit a little bump and go find something else to read. Borel’s guide builds a strong argument for including fact-checking in the publishing process and then teaches you the full process.”
“Many of the tips she offers here are useful not just to fact-checkers, but also to reporters and researchers, particularly the chapter on checking different kinds of facts. . . . She's especially good at explaining the different levels of attribution, which many journalists don't completely understand, and how scientific studies and statistics can be misunderstood and manipulated. She reiterates one piece of advice so often it almost
seems like a mantra: When in doubt, ask an expert.”
— Chicago Reader
“For writers, both professional and amateur, Borel’s Guide should be considered essential. . . . And lest it may be thought by some ‘I’m not a writer; such a book doesn’t really pertain to me,’ if you gain nothing more from reading it than an improved ability to rationally and systematically assess the veracity of what you read or hear reported via whatever medium though which you gather your news of the world, your time spent reading it will be most certainly well spent indeed.”
— Well-Read Naturalist
“Students, teachers, journalists, professional fact-checkers, bloggers, librarians and consumers of media in general all stand to gain valuable knowledge and insights from this book.”
— Reference Reviews
“An indispensable resource in the age of ‘fake news,’ this slim but informative title offers writers, researchers, and journalists best practices for fact-checking in a wide variety of media.”
— Best Reference Titles of 2016