Fact checkers are journalism professionals who verify and confirm the facts in newspaper and magazine articles. To become a fact checker, someone must have a meticulous eye for detail, and some special skills. There are several ways in which people can approach this career path and develop the skills needed to work as a fact checker.
Many fact checkers have journalism or communications degrees, and may start out working as journalists. Before someone can become a fact checker, it is necessary to have journalism skills, and to understand how the journalism world works. Experience as a journalist also provides fact checkers with valuable contacts which they will be able to rely upon when they need sources and lines of pursuit for factual information. Furthermore, it helps a fact checker establish connections which can be used when seeking work.
Fact checkers also need excellent research skills. Someone who wants to become a fact checker may take courses specifically in fact checking or information science, or may develop those skills independently while working as a journalist. Research skills can take time to build, and some fact checkers find work experience with a mentor helpful as they train to become a fact checker. There are also a number of guides which provide people with basic information on being a fact checker, from providing research tips to showing people how to lay out fact checking reports.
Some publications keep a fact checking staff, and can be a good place to start work for someone who wants to become a fact checker. Working in the larger staff, a new fact checker can start out with small tasks under supervision, and eventually take on larger projects such as fact checking articles. Once someone acquires skills and a resume, it is possible to start working as a freelance fact checker. Freelancers may be able to obtain more money for their services, and they can work with a wider variety of materials and people, which can be enjoyable.
Like many careers in the journalism world, the way to become a fact checker can be paved with challenges. It can be a very competitive field, and people may find that it is difficult to get work, especially at the beginning. Would-be fact checkers should remember to keep honing their skills, and to try to set achievable goals which can be reached in steps. Every job should be taken as a learning opportunity, and it pays to treat every person as a potential source and connection; fact checkers who are courteous are in as much demand as fact checkers who are thorough and highly skilled.