Thursday, July 19, 2012
Do You Blog The Facts?
Numbers and facts can be thrown around by the news media, politicians, authors, bloggers, and others but how often are those facts and numbers confirmed to be true? Do you communicate accurate information in your books, press releases, tweets, or blog posts?
Common errors made by writers include:
1. Not double-checking the accuracy of something presented as fact.
2. Not considering something could have been accurate at one point but no longer is.
3. A fact may have been misstated, misrepresented, or stated incompletely.
4. The fact is based on a misquoted source.
5. The source of the fact is unreliable.
6. You lack two independent, legitimate sources and verify their information.
7. The numbers were presented in a distorted way, even if technically accurate (context is important).
8. Transcribing errors are made when one source quotes a source that quotes a source.
Writers have an obligation to be accurate and not manipulate the truth. They must speak a language of reality, fairness, accuracy, and precision. Ask yourself:
· Did so and so actually say the quote attributed to him or her?
· Was anything misspelled?
· Are the numbers accurate and reflective of the facts?
· Are you relying on your memory or a better source?
· Are you presenting rumor, opinion, or allegation as fact?
· Did you verify dates, times, places?
How can you avoid mistakes?
1. Don’t rush, especially if under a deadline.
2. Don’t be lazy.
3. Avoid being willfully ignorant.
4. Don’t assume a source to be reliable unless proven to be.
5. Research and double-check things.
6. If something doesn’t sound right, question it.
Before you retweet something, pen a guest-blog post, or quickly write your next Facebook entry, question the ‘facts’ and make sure they are accurate. Otherwise, not only do you tarnish your reputation and contribute to the disseminating of false or misleading information, you make the Internet less trustworthy.
Blog the facts, only the facts… and a good strong opinion – just label it as such!
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.