The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.61/No.39           November 10, 1997 
Getting The Facts Right  
As an aid to our worker-correspondents, the Militant is reprinting the following editorial that first appeared in the Nov. 4, 1996 issue.

The masthead of the Militant reads, "A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people." The Militant makes a promise to working people - we tell the truth. We stand behind what we write and have the facts to prove it. This is the paper's political responsibility. We encourage readers to send the Militant articles about political developments and struggles by working people and the oppressed all over the world. The Militant couldn't exist without its worker- correspondents. To help make sure these articles meet our high standards of accuracy, we are taking this opportunity to reaffirm and publish our sourcing policy.

The Militant editorial staff needs to verify the facts in every article that appears in the paper. Sourcing starts with interviews, as well as facts from other newspapers, television, and radio. No article will be considered for publication without source materials.

It's important to get the names of those quoted in the Militant. This paper's policy is not to use anonymous quotes, or just individuals' first names. When a correspondent asks, "May I quote you for an article in the Militant?" they should ask for the full name. It's often useful to find out the person's union affiliation and age as well. Verify that you've written down the correct spelling of the person's name while you've at it. Many people like to see their name in the paper, but only if it's accurately spelled and identified.

When the source is an interview it should be noted in the article submitted. Be prepared to fax your notes to the Militant if there's any question that needs to be verified. Leaflets for the spelling of names and clippings from newspapers for quotations are other examples of source materials. If you use portions of an article previously published in the Militant, be sure to cite that as a source, and when possible include the clipping.

One common mistake is the misspelling of names and places. Be sure to double-check with the person or check a map or dictionary. Other common mistakes are numbers, dates, accents on names, and the exact names of political parties and unions. A source is needed for all of the above mentioned; it's easy to misremember such details.

Judge the sources you are using from a political standpoint. Not every "fact" that appears in a bourgeois newspaper is true. Working-class correspondents need to judge: Who is saying this, why do they say it, and is this accurate? Supposedly neutral descriptions, terms, or wording used by the capitalist press often slip in their own class bias. It's better to report it in your own words.

Each source submitted with an article to the Militant should be labeled with letters, from A to Z. Use numbers to indicate the source in each particular lettered source. For example, take a fact (1) from an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (letter A). The source for that fact would be A1 - and so on. Marking these source references for each paragraph of your article will make it possible for the Militant editors and copy editors to do an accurate job.

Working people want to be armed with the facts. By sticking to these guidelines, all Militant correspondents can help make their paper an effective, powerful weapon in discussing and acting in the political struggles of the international working class.  
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