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Fact Checking for Journalists and how to make a FOIA request Presented in June 2005 at the Allied Media Conference by Librarians of Radical Reference www.radicalreference.info.

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Presentation on theme: "Fact Checking for Journalists and how to make a FOIA request Presented in June 2005 at the Allied Media Conference by Librarians of Radical Reference www.radicalreference.info."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fact Checking for Journalists and how to make a FOIA request Presented in June 2005 at the Allied Media Conference by Librarians of Radical Reference and Free Government InformationFree Government Information

2 2 fact checking 101* Someone other than the reporter filing the story verifies all factual material prior to publication so that: The work cant be dismissed as propaganda or rumor Legal risks associated with printing inaccuracies can be avoided An even more interesting story might be discovered Sources are kept happy Embarrassmentor worsecan be avoided Determine and highlight all facts in a story Go beyond spelling and dateslook for causal links, attributions, reporter assumptions, facts contained within quotes, and memories Evaluate sources used by the reporter Confirm everything, using multiple sources for controversial facts *Much of this information can be found in an easy to read book, The Fact Checker's Bible, by Sarah Harrison Smith. Random House 2004.

3 3 before meeting with your fact-checker Organize sources used to write the story –Contact info for interviewees –Website addresses –Copies of documentation Highlight potential areas of concern

4 4 meeting with the fact-checker Discuss sources and potential areas of concern Identify which sources were used for which part of the story Keep copies of your documentation for yourself Quoteschecked or not? Remain available to your fact-checker

5 5 post-check Discuss the story a final time. The fact checker will be concerned with accuracy. Suggestions about reworking the story will relate solely to factual issues. Unless the editorial policy dictates otherwise, it's your name on the story, and your final call.

6 6 research tips Use the telephone Search engine tips & tricks: advanced search. Google isn't the only one out there: –Librarians Internet IndexLibrarians Internet Index –DogpileDogpile –AmazonAmazon –Yahoo (the results will differ from Google's)Yahoo –Teoma (the results will differ from Google's)Teoma Websites –Advocacy (FAIR, Prison Activist Resource Center)FAIRPrison Activist Resource Center –Business (Monsanto, The New York Times Company)MonsantoThe New York Times Company –News (IndyMedia, Fox News)IndyMediaFox News –Informational (American Heritage Dictionary, Critical Mass)American Heritage DictionaryCritical Mass –Personal (Makezine, Street Librarian)MakezineStreet Librarian Databases –Subscription Commercial (Academic Universe, MasterFILE Premier) Lots available from your local public library. Scholarly (PAIS International, Alternative Press Index) –Free(ish) Commercial (New York Times, the Guardian)New York Timesthe Guardian Government (American Factfinder, Library of Congress American Memory)American FactfinderAmerican Memory

7 7 bonus: how to make a FOIA request

8 8 free expensive databases from your public library Commercial subscription databases are freely available and accessible from home to NYPL card holders and at branch and research libraries to anyone who walks in Access government and legal information, newspapers and magazine, statistical and business information, and alternative indexes

9 9 accessing the databases Arranged alphabetically, by subject, and by document type (e.g., full-text) Icons indicate from where databases can be accessed Check other area libraries and their database collections: Ask a reference librarian

10 10 evaluation criteria Authority (auspices) Accuracy Objectivity (perspective, bias) Currency (time, not money) Coverage (scope, mission) Much of the evaluation section was inspired by or taken directly from Evaluating Web Resources by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate which can be found at Library/webevaluation/webeval.htmJan Alexander Library/webevaluation/webeval.htm

11 11 radical reference --Ask a reference question --Links to radical information sources --Search archive of questions Handout Presentation

12 12 contact us this presentation on the web: Look for us in the streets during demonstrations. Well be wearing stuff with the Radical Reference logo.


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