Misinformation is everywhere. As a writer for online publications, it’s never been more important to ensure that your writing is accurate, reliable, and credible. Read how to make sure you’re not peddling fake news.
BY MARGOT RIEDER
Just like the shoes you’re wearing were quality controlled before they hit the shop floor, a piece of writing needs to be proofread and fact-checked before being published.
With this in mind, writers must master the habit of researching and fact-checking. This is not only to prevent feeding their audience with inaccurate information, but to avoid driving their readers away and losing their trust. Plus, there’s nothing a keyboard warrior loves more than to point out mistakes and comment on misinformation.
Keep the internet trolls and embarrassing comments at bay with these four tips to keep you on the right track.
1. Use Credible Websites as Sources
We can no longer assume that everything we read online is correct. Anyone armed with a laptop and an opinion can publish an article, leaving it up to the audience to decide if they believe the content or not.
There are a few red flags to keep an eye out for when searching for information. Be wary of hyperlinks leading to unverified sources, satirical news sites, and unsecured domains.
Do your utmost to find the primary source that will back up what you’re writing. Doing this will not only give you peace of mind, it will also enhance your knowledge of the subject.
Cite Your Research
You don’t need to look far to find examples of ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories online. A recent study carried out by three MIT scholars revealed that false news travels faster than true stories on social media.
If you can properly verify your research then you can build your audience’s trust. According to a report from Colorado State University, the lead researcher states, ‘Without credibility, a writer’s ideas are easily dismissed.’
CSU also stated that providing reputable sources in your writing indicates that your opinions are based on more than a surface knowledge of the subject. Properly citing your work means you can guarantee that your article is based on hard facts.
Fact-checking is vital to protecting your reputation as a writer.
When investigating, use your judgment to decide whether or not a source is credible. If you find yourself doubting the information in front of you, Snopes is a great fact-checking resource to use.
Including at least two sources that can be verified will back up your article and help to establish trust with your audience.
Trust Your Gut
If something feels off, it probably is.
In an article for The Write Life, Carson Kohler said, ‘if you absolutely can’t verify something, it’s better to get rid of it – no matter how enthralling or ‘clicky’ it is – than to risk publishing inaccurate information.’
Building a credible body of writing isn’t easy. Earning your audiences’ trust takes time and hard work. But to be a good journalist, it’s well worth the effort.
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. You’d want to read something truthful, right?
- Fact-Checking – An Important Part Of Journalism
- 7 Reasons Why Journalists Should Use Data Journalism
- Give The Reader What They Came For – 3 Important Aspects Of Magazine Journalism
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Margot Rieder has worked across various corners of the fashion industry for almost ten years. Her background in fashion buying, retail, visual merchandising and makeup artistry has left her with a wealth of knowledge about this fast-paced industry. When she isn’t working with clothes, you’ll find her writing, drawing, or drooling over the new arrivals on her favourite online stores.