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Dec 21, 2011 Commentary
Science journalism and fact checking

by Maximilian Schäfer

At first glance it all seems so easy – scientists create new knowledge, and through their work they show which statements about the world are true and which are false. Science journalists pass these new discoveries on so that as many people as possible can learn about them and understand them. Prior to publication, it is the job of "fact checkers" to examine the journalists' texts to ensure that all the facts are correctly represented. In reality, however, the relationship between the actors is by far more complicated. Using my experience as fact checker of scientific texts for the news magazine "DER SPIEGEL", I would like to comment in this essay on where I see the main problems of fact checking in scientific journalism to be, and on the changes that have come about through the use of the Internet and the availability of smartphones and tablet computers.

Volume 10 • Issue 04 • 2011