- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Anchor (August 10, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385721064
- ISBN-13: 978-0385721066
- Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fact Checker's Bible: A Guide to Getting It Right
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From Publishers Weekly
How do those incomparable fact-checkers at the New Yorker do it? Smith used to be one of them (shes 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 dont aspire to be a journalist or researcher, Smiths 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 elses 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.
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“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
Top customer reviews
Bear in mind, though, that the job of a professional fact checker often differs from that of a copyeditor or proofreader who's checking facts on a manuscript. The former delves deep into the source, its accuracy, veracity, and more. The latter might just need a good online source or two to confirm something the author mentioned in passing. So if you're just interested in which metasearch engine might be best to confirm something, then your emphasis is slightly different (online research). But even so, I think you'll find this a good book and a useful tool. I do, and it's helped my research and fact checking to go quicker and smoother, so it's been well worth it.
(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.
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.