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SUNY Jefferson

JOU 101 Introduction to Journalism: Fact-Checking

Accuracy in Reporting

You should strive for absolute accuracy in your reporting. This page provides some guidelines and suggestions to help you maintain the quality of the information you provide.

This page is based on the work of:

Barbara Gray, Associate Professor and Chief Librarian at Newmark J-School

Compiled with tips from Dody Tsiantar, Cristina Maldonado, & Joanna Hernandez, Steve Buttry’s Accuracy Checklist which builds on Craig Silverman’s Regret the Error Accuracy Checklist, & books by Brooke Borel & Sarah Smith

Verify your information

What to Check:

  • proper names
  • place names
  • references to time, distance, date, season, addresses, etc.
  • physical descriptions
  • references to the sex of anyone described
  • quotations (and facts within quotes)
  • any argument or narrative that depends on fact

Where to Check?

  • Use primary sources whenever possible - see the Primary Sources tab of this guide for details.
  • Use the JCC Library's databases, books, ebooks, and related resources
  • Contact an expert - but verify their expertise
  • Find a stakeholder - someone who's interested in the same thing you are

Common Errors

Common Errors

  • numbers and statistics (mixing up “billions” & “millions”)
  • names of people, titles, locations
  • ages
  • historical facts
  • superlatives like “only,” “first” and “most”
  • dates

Frequent Sources of Error

  • working from memory
  • making assumptions
  • second-hand sources

Source: Carroll, Brian. Writing and Editing for Digital Media. Routledge: 2014.

When you Verify

Ask yourself these questions when you try to verify information:

  • "Who says?"
  • "How do they know?"
  • "Are they biased?"
  • "What don't I know?"

Your Librarians / Ask for Help

Need help with something? Ask Us for Help!

If you are on-campus you are encouraged to stop by the Library and ask for help, we welcome the opportunity to work with you.

If you are off-campus and we are open your best option is to call the Reference Desk at 315-786-2482 and ask for one of us. You can also contact us via email or if you need immediate assistance and we are not open, you can chat with a librarian online (likely not a JCC librarian, but helpful nonetheless) as outlined on our "Ask for Help" web page.

We look forward to working with you!

John Thomas ( / 315-786-2314)

Beverly Scarpulla ( / 315-786-2224)