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Archive for January 18th, 2013

For a reporter seeking information about someone who died, the lack of an obituary, or even a death notice, should be a red flag.

But sometimes (clearly a small percentage of deaths) the red flag doesn’t mean the person wasn’t real; it’s an indication of how the newspaper business has changed.

This blog post isn’t much at all about Manti Te’o, though it grew from the post I wrote yesterday about linking and its role in the journalists’ falling for the dead-girlfriend hoax. I said that journalists should provide relevant links in their stories, and the lack of an obituary to link to should have alerted reporters parroting the story of Lennay Kekua’s death that more research was needed.

“Who dies without an obituary?” I asked. (more…)

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This is a guest post by Jeff Edelstein, columnist at the Trentonian (who’s appeared in this blog before), prompted by these tweets and an email exchange following my blog post about linking and the Manti Te-0 story:

I asked him if he’d like to write a guest post about his fact-checking experience. Here it is (links added by me):

Jeff Edelstein

Jeff Edelstein

It was my first job in journalism. Fact checker for New Jersey Monthly Magazine. I was 19. (Yes, yes, this is about Manti Te’o. Bear with me.)

So yeah. A fact checker. The job was exactly what it sounded like. I checked facts. An article would be assigned, the writer would write, it would go through at least two edits, and then it would land in my hands. Sometimes the author was kind enough to provide phone numbers and relevant materials, other times I had to call the author and beg them for phone numbers and relevant materials.

Fact checkers are not universally loved. (more…)

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