Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thrown In At The Deep End: Fact-Checking 101

Hey there Edsters!

Good news: I have survived my first day of work at the Regional Mag. And nothing really went wrong! Well, not really…

After stressing over what to wear—my editor had given me a cryptic “business casual” guideline—I decided on a skirt, sweater and black heels, something I regretted on the rather long walk from my parking to the Mag’s offices. I was walking, trying to keep my head held high as I gave myself little pep talks, when I looked over to a woman handing out flyers on the street corner. As soon as I turned, my heel went straight into a crack on the ground.
With a little wobble, I soon regained my composure and ignored the laugh from the lady with the flyers. Crisis averted, I made a mental note to wear flats next time.

I met the other new intern on the way into the building, and we chatted as we took the elevator up to the offices near the top of the high-rise. It turns out there will be three of us working at one time, with rotating schedules, meaning there are six interns total. The other new girl and I were both pretty nervous and glad that the third intern had been working at the Mag for a few months now. Our desks are all right next to each other, so it was great to have someone to chat with while we worked. Not to mention, we probably have the best panoramic view of the city out of everyone in the office.

Training took most of the day. Our editor sat us down in the conference room and explained our duties while we furiously scribbled notes. We will be spending the majority of our time fact-checking; basically using official internet sources or PR contacts to verify that the facts in each story in the Mag are true. After reading through a story, we come up with a list of yes/no questions to send to a contact related to the article, whether that be a publicist or the actual person being written about. It’s pretty time-consuming, and can be a little confusing at times. After our training was over, I was given my first story to fact-check. I received e-mail responses from the publicist, so keep your fingers crossed I did it right, Edsters!

Another thing we’ll be doing is proofreading key-lines, which is what a story looks like after it’s been fact-checked and laid-out on the page. For this task, we basically make sure there are no typos, and that all the fact-checking corrections made it on to the page. I thought this was pretty cool because we got to see what the page will actually look like in the magazine, complete with layouts and photos.

Though our daily tasks seem like they’ll be somewhat tedious, I think I’m really going to learn a lot from my days at the Mag. The staff is relatively small, so they’ll really be relying on us to catch mistakes. They all seem pretty nice and, honestly, pretty glad that we’re there to help out. I was super excited, maybe disproportionately excited, to find a misspelling of a person’s name on a key-line my first day. It’s those small victories that will get me through the more boring stuff.

So, Edsters, how was your first day? What do you do to conquer your nerves and stay positive?

‘Til next Thu,
Regional Mag Intern

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