polidigitalaffairs asked: Hi FJP, I'm interested in polishing my fact-checking and research skills. What tools and/or websites would you recommend? Since I do not have any formal fact-checking or research experience outside of academia and cannot afford an unpaid internship, how can build a portfolio to demonstrate those skills? Thank you in advance!

Hi there,

Serendipity’s a beautiful thing. I say this because I was on a train this morning thinking about this question when I started listening to a Radiolab program that tackles this very issue.

So I’d start there. In particular, the segment about Errol Morris’ obsession with a famous Crimean War photograph that Morris first wrote about at the New York Times. Morris later turned this three-part, 25,000 word musing into a book called Believing is Seeing. The book explores how we perceive truth in documentary photography.

Next, I’d check out Nieman Reports. This summer they released “Truth in the Age of Social Media,” a look at how “the BBC, the AP, CNN, and other news organizations are addressing questions of truth and verification.”

And then I’d check out the FJP’s Fact Checking Tag which has a number of ideas about — and links to — fact checking issues and resources.

How to build a portfolio without an internship or some other entry into the field?

Just start doing it. Pick an event and start fact checking it. It’s high political season so there are plenty of things to choose from. I’ve written before about how we need to make our own opportunities by spending the time and effort to build our portfolios. So start a fact checking blog and show the world what you can do.

And remember to show us too. — Michael

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  1. clarissaliu said: is there any chance you could make a rebloggable version of this post? some really great tips here!
  2. ub14 said: serendipity IS a beautiful thing - spent some time thinking about this after discussing katherine boo’s behind the beautiful forevers in my book club (nonfiction, reads like fiction, reader can’t help but wonder if it’s all true and how she did it).