The importance of factchecking in journalism

Before writing on the necessity of fact checking in the mainstream media, it is relevant to state why journalism. One purpose of journalism is to inform people to help them make a conscious opinion. The journalistic task in print, online, and social media is therefore to report the events as if the readers can feel what Clifford Geertz, an anthropologist says of ‘being there’. However, the reality is not always ideal. Journalism is no exception. Any solutions? There could be many, one is fact checking.

With digital freedom, citizen journalism can flourish further. This is much encouraging. Yet, the freedom without responsibility can dilute the purity of news and its sources. The statements coming from the politicians, high level government officials, and newspaper columnists make the public opinions. When unchecked, personal opinion may pass to the public as a fact. For instance, one can argue by saying that a section of society is not immunizing their children. This does not make much sense than saying 13% of children below one year has not received the immunization as per the government schedule. Verifying the assertion against the fact makes them accountable of what they speak or write.

When someone writes anything, there is always a question of how she uses her authority to represent the subject of her choice. This, most of the times, is influenced by power dynamics between the author and the subject. Academic write up requires the author to disclose her personal position and are bound by ethical guidelines. In journalistic writing, such practices are not yet institutionalized at least in our part of the world. Can this be an excuse? Certainly not if we are to be accountable and do people centric journalism. Welcome to the world of fact checking which at least can play its part of game to improve the situation.