Freelance Writers Be like Santa Claus and Check the Facts Twice

The journalists at the The NY Times are revered as some of the best journalists in the world. However, in a recent article about a ‘whiteout’ at the Academy Awards, it’s believed they misrepresented how many African Americans won an Oscar. Barbara Walters brought this up on the February 14, 2011 episode of The View because Whoopi Goldberg won the Oscar for Ghost and wasn’t mentioned in the article. Whoopi said, “I’ve been told that I’m apart of the 12 that have the EGOT (Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony award). It hurt because it’s apart of my legacy. It’s not hidden information. People in China know. These two critics, the head critics of The NY Times should know better.” A spokeswoman for The NY Times said, “Readers’ need to read the story correctly.” Whoopi and the spokeswoman are both right.

If the two head critics of The NY Times didn’t check the facts, why should freelance writers check the facts? It’s important to get the facts right because you won’t be taken seriously as a writer and or journalist if you don’t. Writing and printing sloppy work is unacceptable. Omitting information that’s readily available doesn’t make sense. You will be called out for it.

Tip: Freelance writers, you could offer a ‘fact checking’ service to magazines, newspapers, and other publications.

Freelance writers, if you don’t get your facts straight, you could potentially report erroneous information. Why would people read your articles if you can’t get the ‘basic’ information right? Whoopi’s correct in saying, “The NY Times isn’t some bozo newspaper from hoochie-coochie land.” Although, it gives hope to beginning freelance writers if ‘seasoned’ writers are sloppy. This can be your angle when you pitch articles to magazines and newspapers. You’ll get the facts correct and write an article that readers understand the first time they read it.

Sloppy journalism is unacceptable. If you want credibility, report the correct facts. Check them over and over again until you’re satisfied. Hopefully, the editor or hired ‘fact checker’ will check that facts as well. Someone needs to make sure the information being reported is accurate.

Freelance writers, read and reread your work. Make sure you captured and reported factual information before you turn in work to an editor or client. Remember that everyone has an ego and it can be delicate. How would you feel if someone wrote an article about you or your business that wasn’t totally accurate? You probably wouldn’t appreciate it. Be like Santa Claus — check your list (of facts) twice!


How well do you research and get the facts? Share.