More than half of teens learn about the news from social-media sources and YouTube videos. That’s according to a 2019 Common Sense Media survey. But the information on those sites is not always trustworthy.
“There’s more misinformation out there than ever,” Jordan Mamone says. He works as a fact-checker at TIME for Kids. Mamone believes people should be careful about where they get their news. “It’s really important to learn about your sources and to think about where you’re consuming information,” he says.
Like fact-checkers at other news organizations, Mamone works with writers and editors to make sure people can trust what they read.
Before an issue of TFK is published, Mamone verifies all of the facts included in it. How does he do this? First, he reads each article. He underlines information that can be proven. Examples include numbers, historical details, and the spelling of proper nouns. He then looks for a primary source to confirm the information. A primary source is a firsthand account, such as an official website or autobiography.
If Mamone can’t locate a primary source, he’ll look for three secondary sources to confirm a fact. Secondary source describe or analyze what a primary source says. They include newspaper articles and books. But Mamone can’t rely on every secondary source he finds. He avoids those that are outdated or biased. He also skips sources that might not have been fact-checked, such as personal blogs.
Merrill Fabry is a fact-checker for TIME magazine. She says paying attention to even the smallest details is an important part of the job. “For example, if someone writes ‘a stack of books’ in an article, I need to find out if it’s really a ‘stack’ or if it’s just a couple of books,” Fabry says.
Sifting through multiple sources to verify one fact can sometimes be tough. But the job comes with perks. “I really enjoy getting to work with writers and editors,” Fabry says. “It can be very collaborative.”
Mamone sees another advantage: “The topics that you’re researching are constantly changing,” he says. “Today I’m researching Popeyes chicken sandwiches for an article, and tomorrow it could be hurricanes. So you’re always learning!”