I’ve had several occasions in recent months where I have appreciated the professional courtesy and practice of researchers, authors and journalists who have interviewed me on the subject of enterprise social networks. The simple but vital thing they have done following an interview is to send me in advance what they intend to publish, allowing me the opportunity to verify or edit the content before publication. The practice has kept them from making several mistakes that would otherwise have happened if they went straight from interview to publication.
As a blogger, the practice is important to me because we independent, unpaid bloggers have enough of a hard time being accepted by so-called “professional” journalists as it is; the last thing we need to do is to give them examples of practices that fail to live up to professional journalistic standards. Verifying quotes, ideas and meaning with those referenced is critical as we strive to do our best and be taken seriously.
A related practice that we suffer the consequences of daily – especially in this political season – is one claim after another by political candidates or one accusation after another of what the other candidate did or said at some point. Almost never is the full context of the quote or circumstance given. It takes someone doing an all-too-rare fact check on the statements to bring the real truth to light. By then the speech or the commercial has had its impact and the candidate is on to other statements yet to be fact checked.
Integrity demands that these processes be flipped around. Just as it is unwise and unfair for me as a blogger to quote someone without allowing the person to chance to verify it before publication, so it serves no good purpose to allow candidates (or coworkers or those in other organizations to which we belong) to make unverified claims and to allow them to go unchallenged.
Checking facts takes time. It isn’t exciting work. But we must do more of it in the name of integrity and with the desire to speak only the truth, avoiding misunderstandings.
Leap year lesson #195 is Check your facts and verify your sources.