A Word On “Fake News”
We wanted to address some of the issues surrounding the current controversy of fake news.
Over the last year we have worked hard to verify our news stories. Because of the large number of false stories we have repeatedly run into false or inaccurate stories when researching article topics. In some cases we have taken what was true and written stories based on that. In other cases where the fiction outweighed the fact we choose to not write an article at all. (Our email boxes have countless exchanges looking at the accuracy of story topics we were researching). Over time we have dropped news sources that we felt continually resulted in us running down story topics that tended to have inaccurate information. Our estimates are that 25% of the stories on some of these sites were fundamentally false (the story didn’t contain a few inaccurate details but the story was not based on real events).
Occasionally, like many news organizations and websites, our vetting process didn’t catch an issue with a story. These stories are not complete fabrications but have important details wrong. And when we discover these stories we take corrective action. A typical example is a story on a teacher that stopped a kidnapping. This was a feel good story that was widely reported on local news channels. But one important detail that was missing from these reports and our story was that the abductor was the child’s estranged father. He is currently facing 25 years. While what we reported was not false but this is a significant detail that alters the nature of the story. When our readers notified us of this we issued a correction.
Sometimes our editors find these errors and sometimes our readers find these errors. (To our site visitors: At the bottom of every story is a link to report a story for inaccuracies or other errors. We take those reports seriously and look to correct even small errors. We want to thank our readers that have used this form to send us corrections.)
Operating in a environment with multiple false stories floating around is difficult if you care about the truth as we do. We applaud facebook for their efforts to crack down on fake news and hope it will make our jobs easier. We will of course continue to fact check but we hope we will be running down less false leads.
That said we are apprehensive. Many people feel the recent attack on online media is an attempt to censor conservative news. And we have seen some push the false narrative that all non-mainstream news is fake. We will have to see what happens next.
(As a side note we have been looking through the list of false stories that have come out. It’s been nice to look through the lists and think “yep we vetted that story as false when it came out, vep we vetted that story as false as well.”)