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Professor Dianne Heimer from the Sacramento City College Journalism Department spoke about the simple steps that can be taken to make sure that you are getting the right information in stories at Tuesday's researching and fact-checking workshop held at The Sacramento Press.
This important topic focused on helping writers learn how to recognize a reliable source and when to second-guess their facts. Heimer stressed the importance of the accuracy of facts and credibility, saying, "Factual inaccuracy in your writing can discredit your reputation and your publication's reputation."
She was able to talk about this further by demonstrating the importance of getting primary sources, such as an interview with someone directly involved, to enhance accuracy. Secondary sources are also good for getting information, but with the Internet so easily accessible, it is necessary to look at where the information is coming from.
"An easy trick is to look at the tail end of a web address' URL," she said. "Sites ending in .edu, .org and .gov are more credible."
Heimer stressed that while secondary sources can be a great asset, it is important to fact-check and still get firsthand accounts when possible.
The workshop went on to focus on the importance of fact-checking. She said the best way to ensure accuracy is to double-check names, phone numbers, addresses, URL's, dates and times, any numbers and your primary and secondary sources against themselves. It is simple mistakes in these areas that can easily discredit your paper.
Her key point of the night was, "When in doubt, fact-check it out."
Audience members, many of whom came to the workshop to improve their writing, actively participated, helping bring many of the more complicated issues with fact accuracy to light.
She also made sure to point out that a great way to find helpful information for articles is through the Internet Public Library 2 at www.ipl.org.
Overall, the night was full of constructive information on how to improve researching techniques.
This workshop is only one of many that The Sacramento Press puts on each month to help local community members who are interested in writing community-based content gain knowledge.
Those interested in attending future workshops should sign up as a user on the site. Users are sent e-mail invitations for upcoming workshops.
Photos by Colleen Belcher