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The Fact Checker's Bible: A Guide to Getting It Right Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0385721066 ISBN-10: 0385721064

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (August 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385721064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385721066
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How do those incomparable fact-checkers at the New Yorker do it? Smith used to be one of them (she’s now head fact-checker for the New York Times Magazine), and in this tidy little volume, she shares the secrets of her craft. And even for those don’t aspire to be a journalist or researcher, Smith’s tips are useful: in an information-logged world, we all ought to be able to determine the reliability of what we read. She opens with an excellent lesson in the art of skeptical reading ("do you find the article credible and persuasive?…. Occasionally, flat writing can be a tip-off that an author is parroting someone else’s ideas"), and she offers a useful discussion of fact-checking procedures at some top newspapers and magazines and helpful (though not comprehensive) lists of reliable resources in subjects ranging from films to wine. Much of the book, however, is for professionals, and the journalists, fact-checkers, researchers and editors at whom this is aimed should find it nearly indispensable.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The indispensable guide to the field. Smith’s abundant common sense, her relentless zeal for the truth, not to mention her exquisite sense of fairness, make her book a godsend for researchers and writers alike” –-Jeffrey Toobin

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Warren Keith Wright on October 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Fittingly, the descriptions of THE FACT CHECKER'S BIBLE given in the blurbs above exactly match Sarah Harrison Smith's book. Despite an enviable résumé, something in Smith's tone suggests youthful excitement---inasmuch as she still finds it exciting to track down the ten thousand details that a writer has already dug up in order to ensure that she or he has got them all right. (In literary studies, those people are called critics and biographers.) But considering the number of scandals concerning plagiarism, fabrication, and sheer audacity in American journalism during recent years, this demanding task is a necessary one---even though it is surrounded by so many legal pitfalls that it sounds like Hell, Inc.

(Her chapter on fact-checking poetry and fiction comes off as a little comic, albeit unintentionally, and suggests it is likely that she writes neither: when creating imaginative literature, accuracy is swell but plausibility is paramount.)

Far from being addressed only to colleagues in the profession, this brisk handbook will educate anyone who writes anything, and readers who wish to become better judges of everything they read---in the news, in their own area of expertise, or for pleasure. Smith maintains the fine line where skepticism does not sour into cynicism, and makes better critics of us all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mascia on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I needed to learn the basics of fact-checking rather quickly, and Smith's book taught me everything I needed to know. A must-read for anyone in media or publishing.
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By Robert C. Tovar on August 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Purchased the electronic version. Series of good advice for someone in the business of writing, editing or just for background information
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ohioan on September 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
While I enjoyed reading this book and learning about what it is exactly that fact checkers do, and how they do it, I was also made a bit nervous by the amount of detail that fact checkers must check. That's my problem, of course, not theirs: apparently fact checkers love checking facts.

The one weakness this book has is that nowhere is the reader given any idea of how long it might take to fact check, say, a 5,000 word article. After reading this book I have no idea whether a fact checker working on an article needs one day, three, four weeks, or more to check an article. Does a fact checker work on several articles at once? It would have been very good for the author to reproduce a double-spaced typed manuscript with a fact checker's notations on each page: this would give the reader a very clear idea of how things work.
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6 of 112 people found the following review helpful By J. Gabrielson on January 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
[...] If someone knew nothing about the publication the author worked for, the New Yorker or the others she discussed, like the NYT, the book would seem to be informative.

In reality the book itself is [...]. It would be like a book on safety published by the former manager of the Chernobyl Power plant.

If you want to get quickly to the heart of the deception(and get a good laugh); skip to the back of the book and read the parts about fact checking for TV news programs.

If you have made a serious effort to study and research the truth, the facts about current events and contemporary political debate; then you know that the New Yorker constantly lies and deceives its readers. It is little more that a trade publication for the New York left.

To put it another way.; A lawyer pleads with a Judge to be lenient with his client who has just been convicted of a double homicide, on the basis that his client is an orphan.

The authors idea of fact checking is to confirm the fact, by proper research into government records, that indeed both of the defendants parents are dead.

The fact that the reason they are dead is that the defendant, their son, murdered them is conveniently overlooked.
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