Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Getting the Facts Straight; the New Yorker and Reader's Digest Offer Guidelines

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Getting the Facts Straight; the New Yorker and Reader's Digest Offer Guidelines

Article excerpt

Getting the facts straight

New York City--Even with nine full-time fact checkers, The New Yorker has been known for a few gaffes--but just a few. Once in a profile, for example, a chef was quoted as saying that he thought a piece of fish he ordered at Lutece, the New York restaurant, was frozen. "In the world of Lutece, this was an indescribable error," noted Martin Baron, head of the checking department. "Lutece would never dream of serving frozen fish." The New Yorker, humbled, published a retraction.

Although few magazines can afford the fact-checking staff of The New Yorker, most can benefit from guidelines offered by Baron and by Susan Wanner, assistant managing editor, chief of research, Reader's Digest.

* Get the facts right. Remember that writers are often hired for their literary, not reportorial, talent. sometimes the fact checker must re-report an entire article.

* Update titles and other transitory information in any articles that do not run immediately.

* Watch for possible libelous or defamatory passages. No one, said Baron, has ever recovered from a lawsuit against The New Yorker.

Correct that quote

* Citing the lesson learned from the fish story, Baron stated that "We cannot let someone say something in The New Yorker that is factually incorrect." Factual misstatements are particularly risky in articles quoting someone on historical or other information.

* Try to check the spelling of a person's name with the person--or with someone as close to that person as possible. …

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