The New York Times Washington D.C. bureau has thrown down the gauntlet to its brethren in the newspaper business by hiring its first-ever fact-checker.
“Given how much copy we’re moving these days, given how intense the atmosphere is, we’re just doubling down on making sure everything is as airtight as it can be,” said Peter Baker, the Times’ chief White House correspondent told Politico. “It’s probably long overdue.”
Politico noted that while fact-checkers are common at magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, they are all but unheard of at newspapers or breaking news sites.
Baker said he had never seen one at a newspaper in his nearly 30-year career.
The fact-checker, Emily Cochrane, was hired as an intern in August to keep up with the Trump-era news crush according to Times Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller, who then decided to keep her on permanently to do”fact-checking on deadline” to help minimize mistakes.
Cochrane won’t be checking every story, but works nightly on the bigs ones and can log into the system and check reporters in real time according to Bumiller.
Baker said that Cochrane is essentially looking over his shoulder electronically while he’s writing a story on deadline and has found mistakes when he has been just a few paragraphs in, which he finds invaluable.
Cochrane’s role has been so successful that Bumiller said that the paper plans for her duties to be extended to the office’s news assistants, of which there’s at least one working every night.