5/01/2018

A guide to figuring out if the article you're reading is true


A couple of years ago, my friend sat me down and demanded to know why I wasn’t more outraged. He had been getting politically active as of late, and by that I mean he’d been posting articles on his Facebook wall with titles like “Hillary Clinton eats Russian cats for breakfast.”

“Why don’t you ever share my posts?” he asked. “You don’t think this stuff is important?” I sighed.

“Alright, let’s do this,” I said. I put on my journalism hat and showed him, line by line, why he shouldn’t trust the articles he’s reading.

Fake news is becoming a huge problem. With so many sites publishing so many articles, it's hard to figure out what's true anymore. My friend is a smart guy. But the truth is, it’s not enough to be a smart or careful or have a nuanced global perspective on cat-related recipes. If you want to separate fact from fiction – especially important when things like climate change are being attacked – you have to become a detective.

That’s why Kirsten Schmitt calls herself “the editorial detective.” Schmitt is a senior research manager at Condé Nast, the media megalords that own publications like Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Wired, Vogue, and over a dozen other huge names. She’s been checking articles for accuracy for more than two decades at some of the most established publications in the world, and is also the founder of Your Best Edit, a writing and editing business.

Schmitt told me that when you want to figure out if the article you're reading is true, you have to …more