Friday, January 18, 2013

Call Me Joe Friday





"Just the facts, ma'am."*

I got the position as a fact-checker. And I completed my first assignment yesterday.

(I should explain that it's a freelance position, and thus will provide intermittent income, so if any of you were praying for me to get a full-time gig someplace, you needn't stop sending good thoughts skyward.)

The work I'm doing is for a national magazine. I won't give the name yet. I don't know how they'd feel about that, so I have no intention of queering the deal immediately just to satisfy my ego and your curiosity. I'll tell you that it was launched in the early 1980's and currently has a monthly circulation above 500,000. If you're willing to do a little fact-checking research of your own, you might be able to guess it.

(Don't make any guesses in the comments, OK? If you do, I will neither confirm or deny. I will ignore.)

So, fact-checking is an interesting job. The basic deal is this: I receive an article due for publication in the coming months. I read it. I mark up the piece, deciding which things will need to be checked for accuracy (quotes, for example). Then I either verify the marked up sections via research (internet, library) or by contacting a person mentioned in the article and/or given as a source by the author. I may also search out other sources for verification, if the original sources can't be reached by deadline.

The piece I was fact-checking ran about 2,300 words. I put in roughly ten hours checking it. I had to contact nine different sources, via telephone, and take notes on the conversations we had. I also had to do some research on the internet, to make sure a few figures given by the writer were accurate. I also proofread the piece for spelling errors and other slips of the typing fingers. It is fairly taxing work mentally, but a good challenge. It combines aspects of reporting and editing, so it's good training for a writer.

It is also educational. For instance, I learned the following during the course of the fact-checking I did:

*Honeybees use headbutting as a means of communication.

*Football fields are 53 1/3 yards wide.

*60 milligrams = approximately 2/1000 of an ounce.

*Termites are capable of building nests (mounds) reaching a height of 40 feet.

It is a haphazard sort of an education. However, if I find myself on Jeopardy someday, and one of the categories is "Minutiae Concerning Athletic Fields And Insects", I'll probably ace it.

Needless to say, I'm grateful for the work. I'd give a big shout-out to the person who helped me get it, but he or she would rather remain anonymous. Considering that it's me that he or she would be associated with, that's understandable. Also, if my new employers found out how often I fabricate things here, they might become somewhat skeptical concerning my qualifications, so I'd better keep it on the down low.**

Soon, with more better stuff.


*I realize the reference is too outdated for some and too American for others. Tough. I'm American and outdated.

** No, not that down low.


45 comments:

haphazardlife said...

Cool. Sounds like something I'd like to do.

Jeni said...

So good to hear that you got some kind of work doing something that can and will showcase your talents! Even if it is freelance, it's still better to do something that provides some challenge in the doing the job than some mindless full-time but minimum wage position! Not that there's anything wrong with doing that work if it's all a person can find to have some type of income but...so much better to be doing something that is interesting, challenging and even educational too. Think of it as training ground for Jeopardy.

Ami said...

Hey Joe, that's great news! Glad you're utilizing your talents. And still hoping for you that you find a good, full time job very soon. That pays a TON. Of money. And prestige.

Speaking of money... last paycheck bounced. Will be about a week until I send you some socks. :)

GreenJello said...

The only problem I'd have with this job is that I'd get sidetracked by researching related things to facts I'm checking in an article, and then 20 hours down the road, I will have accomplished checking maybe one fact.

Glad you have work!

Uncle Skip, said...

Do you get to work from home?
Is that a positive... or a negative aspect?

Honeybees, termites and football fields... hmmmm!

Michelle H. said...

Great to hear you find the work challenging and fun. Even though it's freelance work, it's something you can build on and grow. Fingers crossed that life moves onward and upward from here.

Kat said...

Woohoo!!! That is awesome. It does sound exhausting, but also very interesting. And who doesn't love random trivia?
Congratulations!!!!

Bill Yates said...

Jim, I have a feeling you are one of those people who have the innate ability to take the worst things that happen to them and turn them into the best things that happen to them. That is strength, my friend.

lime said...

congratulations! that's great news and does sound like kind of a fun sort of freelance work for someone who enjoys learning oddball facts. great practice for being a reference librarian, or cliff clavin. hehehehe continuing best wishes for enough work to keep the bill collectors at bay but so happy to hear of this first step in that direction.

Maggie May said...

Brilliant news. It will keep you busy and hopefully more work will come your way too.
Well done finding that position and being accepted.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Who Needs a Job? said...

Way to go Jimmy! I'm glad you found something interesting to do while you look for a permanent gig!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

I was going to say you could probably appear on Jeopardy, but you beat me to it. Sounds like a very interesting gig, one that will keep your mind sharp. Hope it pays well, though I'd imagine it's not steady. Keep your chin up, something will open up for you.

OldAFSarge said...

Congratulations! This sounds pretty interesting Suldog. I love the Joe Friday reference, brilliant.

I know you cautioned us against asking, speculating and guessing for which esteemed publication this is, but...

My guess is that you are NOT working for Pravda. Based on two things: the width of an (obviously) American football field would be of little interest to a Russian and the assumption that a publication titled "Truth" (Правда) would have no need of something like a fact-checker. No need to answer old buddy, a wink's as good as a nod. (Nudge, nudge, know what I mean?)

Eddie Bluelights said...

Great news Jim and the job sounds interesting - but I have not given up on praying for a lucrative full time job for you, utilizing your many talents.
"Nil desperandum" which means "Do't let the buggers get you down!"

joeh said...

Good news, hope it leads to some more better stuff!

Mad Magazine?...no that was earlier..hmmm

Daryl said...

oh good .. i am so glad that Mother Jones finally hired a fact checker ... ;)

Hilary said...

So good to hear. it sounds like something you'd enjoy.. at least until that great full time job presents itself. Good thing you have your internet connection at home, now. :)

Buck Pennington said...

The piece I was fact-checking ran about 2,300 words. I put in roughly ten hours checking it.

That sounds like serious WORK.. Cue up Maynard G!

I'll not hazard a guess as to your employer, but they kinda sound like NatGeo Lite, based upon the facts you were checking.

Stephen Hayes said...

Now that you have this job I feel a whole lot better. I wasn't aware that anyone cared about facts anymore.

Tabor said...

Sounds like you are enjoying this interim while still looking for more permanent employment. This current job may very well be one of you most important and maybe even save a life someday.

Karen said...

Phew, that does sound mentally taxing, but glad you have some work.

messymimi said...

Well, i'm glad you have something coming in, but i won't stop praying.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Sounds like fun, actually. And think of the fun you could have "fixing" the facts, especially if no one is checking YOU. Football fields are 3/4 mile wide. Honeybees communicate by iPhone. Or bPhone. How fun would THAT be?

Barbara Shallue said...

They are lucky to get you for this - you're perfect for it! But I can see where it could get tedious, so I'm still praying!

HIS WIFE said...

Yes, but he's unsharpening it every night by watching 6 hours of ME TV!

Babs said...

Cool man

Jackie said...

So happy to hear the news, Jim.
I'm guessing it's not "The National Enquirer"...and I do appreciate the fact that you've checked me out as factual.
Continued blessings to you and Your Wife.
I look forward to each blog post you write.
Hugs,
Jackie

Lowandslow said...

As good as the news is that you're now gainfully employed, it's even better to hear you seem to LIKE it! Nothing like having a job you enjoy! :)

S

SueAnn Lommler said...

Well you have a job...that is cool and sounds very interesting! But I will definitely keep the prayers a going!! You take care of yourself...important now more than ever!
Hugs
SueAnn

Shammickite said...

So you're getting an education and some pay at the same time, nothing wrong with that! Do you get paid by the hour, or by the fact?

Carolina said...

Good news! Sounds like an interesting job. Congratulations :-D
Also interesting... I followed the link. I've learned a lot today.

Lora said...

Great news! Still praying something more consistent turns up for you, but have fun with your Jeopardy-prep education!

The Geezers said...

Fact checking is certainly a lost art in publishing these days, so I'm happy you're on the job. Good luck with your job search.

Jenny Woolf said...

Glad they still have fact checkers. I remember submitting an article once to an American magazine in which I said I had passed a big Victorian house on some isolated path. The fact checker wanted to know how I knew it was Victorian. Does that make sense to you, as an American fact checker? I knew it was Victorian because it looked pretty well like this http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/images/people-faces/womens-history/visible-in-stone/bb89_00463.jpg (without the Victorian guy sitting in the foreground)

Juli said...

This would be a dream job for me. Do you know how much useless knowledge I could acquire for parties and otherwise making myself appear far superior to my husband?

Awesome.

Joan said...

I will still be sending good thoughts, but... I am smiling for what you also have now.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Congrats on the freelance gig and I'll still sending prayers for a great, full-time, super cushy, extremely high paying, job for you.
Cheers, jj

sandyland said...

keep sending more to the Boston Herald about sports etc. I bet you get a following Just as long as you are busy and out of your wife's hair- and what happened to helping me catch up from being sick just kidding.love Sandy

sandyland said...

PS I happen to like that lovely periodical

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

What an interesting position, didn't even know that existed I always thought editors did all that stuff. So excited for you that you've been able to find something though, work is work and like you said it wil help you develop your own critical eye and reporting skills. Congrats but I'll keep sending out the happy vibes for whatever it is that will best fit your long term needs (lots of freelance gigs, full time, etc).

Md Rajon said...

ccccccccccccc

JudisJems said...

I can see where you may get lots of fodder for future posts with all the little bits you'll be learning now. Congrats on the job!
Peace, Judi

CiCi said...

So you are sort of a snopes.com for the magazine? Hope you like the work, at least now I know you and the Mrs will be eating again.

Kat said...

By the way, thanks to you there are now 4 more Three Stooges fans. My kids LOVED the movie. Thanks for recommending it. Hilarious! Now I have to find some of the original Three Stooges shows to show my kiddos. :)

notactuallygod said...

I did FC for a long defunct mag called American Film back in the late 80's. It was fun for a while but I moved on to smaller and lesser things...