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Don’t They Fact Check This Stuff?

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The following passage in a recent Salon article stopped me cold:

“Don’t they fact-check this stuff?”

First, that question about fact-checking: four times out of five, the answer to it is “No, they don’t.” Much of the public still believes that “fact-checking” is actually a routine part of news journalism, and most journalists aren’t in any rush to bust the myth, but myth it is.

There are two types of “fact-checking”: One is a formal procedure of the news work-flow, where somebody with the title of “fact checker” actually attempts to verify every single fact in a piece. This is the sort of thing the New Yorker is famous for. It used to be the norm at glossy magazines, but the norm is decaying in this era of media-business meltdown. I did fact-checking work at the start of my career, as many journalists did, and it’s a good discipline, but an increasingly rare one.

Obviously, I can’t speak to what’s the norm at all glossy magazines. But I can certainly assure you that fact-checking is alive and well at 5280 — as can the three editorial staffers who spent the better part of last week holed up in one of our conference rooms wrestling over every detail in an amazing feature that you’ll be seeing soon in our October issue. In fact (pun intended), our team of fact-checkers reviews every piece of copy that appears in the pages of 5280. It’s a laborious, expensive, and frequently thankless task, but we see it as one of the key things that sets us apart from all other Denver media.

P.S. None of which is to say we never make mistakes. We do — and we want you to let us know when it happens. We’ll make it right.

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