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Check Sources For Accuracy

Posted by Val Fox on May 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Digital technology and the Internet have made it easy to access information on just about any topic. This saves time and gets stories out to the masses faster than ever before. But how do you know the material in your story is true? Your credibility as a writer depends on accurate, current facts based on evidence and reliable sources.

The following list contains important points that every writer must consider if you want to be taken seriously, especially if writing non-fiction.

 - Credibility is more important than getting the story out faster than the competition. This point was made clear in the movie "The Paper" when an over-zealous editor insisted on running a front-page story that had not yet been thoroughly checked for accuracy. She went head-to-head with a senior reporter who decided to stop the newspaper production (expensive and time-consuming) to wait for the truth. Never compromise accuracy.

 - What is source of your information? How reliable is the source?

 - What is the agenda behind your source? To convince others? To sell something?

 - Look at the word choices used by your source - are they sound or sensational?

 - Do any of your sources contain back-up quotes or testimonials by other credible people?

 - Are there any conspiracy theories behind this information?

 - If you write about the sciences, were true scientific processes involved? Check the research carefully noting who funds the research and what is their mandate? Is there a paper trail that proves claims about the research?

 - What experts were used to back up the info you want to share?

 - Is the source connected directly to the subject? How?

 - Is there other supporting evidence that backs up the point you are trying to make?

 - What qualifications does the source have? You can't be sure unless you check.

 - Have peers reviewed the material you are planning to use in your story?

 - Have you provided links to credible sources that back up your story? Are the links current? Remember to check them carefully.

One last point: If you have published something in error, be up front about it. Don't just correct it and say nothing. Your credibility as a writer depends on your willingness to be open and honest, even when a mistake has been made.

These are some of the items I learned when studying journalism/public relations at Lethbridge College. Our credibility depends on our follow-through skills; even a misspelled name can affect how seriously we are taken as writers. Fiction must be made plausible too, by thorough research and accurate background information.

Check everything out, never assume anything. Your credibility as a writer will be rewarded.

Thanks for stopping by to read today's Insecure Writers Support Group post. The IWSG is a group of writers from around the world that posts on the first Wednesday of each month. Our goal is to share information, ask questions and support other writers. For those of you who may be interested, the link is provided below.

Have a great day!



tags: responsible journalism; writing the truth; don't believe everything you read; 


Categories: Writing/Photography

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1 Comment

Reply Alex J. Cavanaugh
6:04 PM on May 12, 2014 
That's an excellent checklist for writers and anyone who posts information online.


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This is the personal website of writer Val Fox from Alberta, Canada: soon-to-be published author; freelance writer/editor; ghost writer; animal and child advocate; amateur photographer and avid camper.  Welcome!


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