Remember fact-checking?

In the late 1970s I co-authored an article for Psychology Today magazine that was rigorously fact-checked by someone at the publication. Every person I had interviewed was called, the spelling of their names confirmed, and their ages and other identifying information verified. Dates and sequences of events (we were writing about the aftermath of the war in Vietnam) were checked as well.

Print magazines are still known for their rigorous fact-checking, or at least some spot-checking; most require writers to submit contact information on all sources. Webzines, by contrast, follow the newspaper tradition of minimal fact-checking. As this Slate article explains the system, “writers are responsible for the accuracy of their pieces, editors do their best to backstop them, and more often than anybody will admit, copy editors save all of us from embarrassment with their last-second interventions.”

Slate, however, has a self-appointed fact-checker who’s been sending in corrections to the website since 2000. I’m proud to say that the fact-checker, profiled by Slate last week, is my cousin RM “Auros” Harman.