Fact-Checking on a Budget
It’s risky to cut corners, but many publications simply can’t afford the time and money required for a thorough fact-check.
If you are (1) a journalist, editor, copy editor, or filling any other relevant role at an outlet that doesn’t have fact-checkers (2) a freelancer writing for an outlet that doesn’t have fact-checkers or (3) writing without the safety net of any editor or fact-checker, here are some tips:
- Prioritize potential liabilities: If you don’t have airtight sourcing to back up big claims, don’t publish them.
- Check facts that are easy to find but also easy to mess up, such as spelling, titles, and dates.
- Rely less on people and more on printed or digital sources, such as reports, academic papers, and official websites.
- Use multiple reliable secondary sources instead of primary sources.
- Build in time in your deadline so you have a break in between writing and fact-checking a draft, whether it’s a day or a few hours or even a five-minute walk around the block.
- Read the story with fresh eyes: Change the font, print it out, and move to a new room.
- Plug the troll holes: Read from the perspective of your biggest critic and consider adding sourcing or clarification to preemptively shut down their arguments.