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Posts Tagged ‘wikipedia’

Everyone’s A Fact Checker Now

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009


Photo: Harvard Magazine

How impressive is Amelia Lester, a 26 year old Australian who has just been appointed managing editor of the New Yorker? Go Australian expats!

She started as a fact checker, a junior but indispensable role behind the scenes at any major magazine. Their job is to verify whatever the writers submit, make sure names and dates are correct, and generally make sure the publication isn’t held up to ridicule once they publish.

The fact checking urge has spread beyond the magazine world.

I was watching a presentation the other day, and the speaker was doing pretty well, making each point with breezy confidence. Then a voice from the back:

“Um… no it isn’t.”

This was the voice of an amateur audience fact checker, armed with an iPhone. He’d checked something, found it to be wrong, and brought it up mid-speech. Not in a “you’re wrong, fool” sort of fashion, but more in an attempt to be helpful.

He wasn’t the only one stroking an iPhone back there, either.

So be warned. Whatever facts you’re planning to present, you’d better check them beforehand, at least to a basic Wikipedia level. Or risk an embarrassing interruption from the iPhone fact vigilantes.