When journalists are portrayed on TV and movies, you typically get taken into the juicy interviews, the big discoveries, the wall of post-its and photos connecting key characters, and the furious writing of a masterpiece.

The true-story depictions glaze over a less glamorous but critical step: checking the facts.

We’re all human, even the superstar journalists breaking national and international stories at renowned news outlets. In most cases, they have teams of people helping to ensure details within the stories are accurate.

At PublicSource, we think it’s just as important to take such care in our stories about people and happenings in the Pittsburgh region. 

Though it’s been no easy feat for a news outlet our size, we’ve been fact-checking our stories for more than a decade. 

We add time to the publication process — from hours to days — to put every story we produce and publish through a fact check.

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We employ three levels of fact-checking based on details of the story, like timeliness and sensitivity. At minimum, a story is fact-checked by the reporter(s) and editors. 

In most cases, our reporters are providing source material to editors and/or an independent fact-checker to verify many or all of the facts in a story.

The basic recipe of fact-checking at PublicSource is to :

  • Show sourcing that helps to answer a simple, but powerful, question: “How do I know this?”
  • Have someone other than the reporter comb through all of it and interrogate it.

We check basic facts like spellings and math as well as more complex matters, like interpretations of source comments or research.

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It doesn’t mean we’ll always be perfect despite striving to be. That’s why we have a proactive and transparent practice on corrections and clarifications, and you can find contact information for every person on staff here.

Reporters, editors, interns and freelance fact-checkers all play a part in fact-checking. It takes diligence, time and money to produce in-depth and investigative journalism and even more to get it fact-checked.

But in a world of mis/disinformation and lagging trust in media, we take great lengths to get it right for you and the region as a whole.

If you have any questions about fact-checking at PublicSource, please reach out to Editor-in-Chief Halle Stockton at halle@publicsource.org or Managing Editor Rich Lord at rich@publicsource.org.

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Halle is executive director, editor-in-chief of PublicSource. She has served as editor-in-chief since May 2022 after seven years as managing editor during which PublicSource won two consecutive international...