Brooke Borel—The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, Second Edition

Cover of the book The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, Second Edition by Brooke Borel, with the title words and author’s name in black and markings in red, fushia, and blue simulating copy-editing highlights on a white background.

Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, 2nd Ed

Brooke Borel
University of Chicago Press, May 23, 2023
Paperback, $18, eBook, $17.99
ISBN-13: 978-0226817897, eBook ASIN: B0BTWC2QQG

Borel reports:

The first edition of The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking was published in October 2016, just before that year's presidential election. Well, as we all know, a lot has happened since then.

Climate change and the pandemic, for example, have been fertile ground for the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. Falsehoods have shifted in ways that I certainly didn’t predict five years ago.

Portrait photo of Brooke Borel

Brooke Borel
Photo by Roxanne Khamsi

Although the original book generally has held up well and has a lot of useful material, some aspects of it were beginning to feel pretty outdated. The University of Chicago Press—rightly, I think—decided the book needed a refresh. And so we embarked on the second edition.

In addition to an entirely new introduction and conclusion, the book covers the evolving media landscape and provides new guidance on checking audio and video sources, polling data, and covering sensitive subjects such as trauma and abuse.

Some outlets use the magazine model, essentially independent fact-checking. Others use the newspaper model, where verification is mainly the responsibility of the journalist. Still others use a hybrid model, applying the magazine approach to long, complex, or legally sensitive pieces and reserving the quicker, newspaper approach for breaking news or short items.

Fact checkers work not only with newspapers and magazines but also increasingly in other media, including podcasts, documentaries, and nonfiction books. Some book authors hire fact-checkers on their own, a wise decision. I think the task is truly better off in the hands of a third party whenever possible.

I expanded the sections on working with writers, editors, and producers and added advice on getting fact-checking gigs. The book also addresses the looming challenges posed by artificial intelligence and other technologies.

I also included two exercises to test your skills, along with answers and discussion and an appendix with suggested reading and listening.

Who knows what the coming years will bring and whether we’ll need a third edition (or more)? For aspiring book authors out there: Don’t be afraid of the fact-checking process. It can be done. Please do it!

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Banner image adapted from original photo by Brooke Borel.

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