This website is an initiative of J-Lab

Principles of Citizen Journalism

Accuracy & fact-checking: How to get it right

navigation thumbnails
Accuracy
navigation thumbnails
Thoroughness
navigation thumbnails
Fairness
navigation thumbnails
Transparency
navigation thumbnails
Independence
navigation thumbnails
Resources

The team behind this project

SECTIONS

Accuracy & fact-checking
How to get it right

Thoroughness
Going the extra yard for information

Fairness
Treating opposing points of view with respect

Transparency
Disclosure a key ingredient in gaining trust

Independence
Following the story wherever it leads

Interviews
Tapping into the wisdom of the community

Resources
Where to find more information

Accuracy
Using fact-checking to get it right

Accuracy is the starting point for all good journalism. Get your facts right, then check them again. Know where to look to verify claims or to separate fact from fiction.

Being factual has many dimensions. For example, on the Web it's especially valuable to say what you don't know, not just what you do -- and to ask readers to fill you in as well. Accuracy means correcting what you get wrong, and doing it promptly.

This section offers advice from publishers and pioneers in citizen media and traditional journalism as well as resources and best practices. See our slide show, where experts offer their advice. Watch the screencast on different ways to make corrections. We have a tip sheet and -- a favorite -- some too-true confessions of mistakes, the kind we all make at least once (and, if we're smart, only once).

Fact-checking in citizen journalism

Slide show: Discussion of how to achieve accuracy in reporting. Interviews with Amy Gahran, Contentious.com; Brooks Jackson, director of Factcheck.org, and Courtney Lowery, managing editor of NewWest.net.

Dan Rather image

How to correct mistakes online

Screencast: How should an online publication handle corrections when it publishes a mistake? This screencast looks at best practices in correcting errors at news sites and blogs.

Accuracy tip sheet

How-to: A one-page tip sheet for citizen journalists to consult before, during and after writing your story.

snake image

My biggest screw-up

Confessional: We asked reporters to tell us their most memorable journalistic gaffes or foul-ups, as a note of warning to citizen journalists about the importance of double-checking your facts. Here are some of their stories.

Howlers

Chuckle: A few notable gaffes by major newspapers when someone fell asleep at the switch.

The unmasking of Lonelygirl15

Citizen sleuthing: An online Q&A with the teenager Matt Foremski, who uncovered the true identity of YouTube's Lonelygirl15.

When a reporter writes about you

Tip sheet: Suggestions for improving the accuracy of news coverage about you. It doesn't hurt to ask to see the article before it runs.

A conversation about accuracy

Audio interview: Content strategist and blogger Amy Gahran talks about quality content, accuracy and transparency in journalism.

Accuracy resources

Online directory: Tips and resources for getting it right, from journalism organizations and independent sites.

Photos across top of page (from left to right) by Rob Milsom, Tom Magliery, Elaine Yeung, Stefan Jansson, Geren W. Mortensen, Jr., John Cumisky