February 10, 2009
I love the New Yorker, one reason why I do is that they always get their facts right.
To do this they employ a stringent fact checking department.
There is an excellent article by John Mc Phee on this very subject in their latest issue.
He tells about a piece he wrote about a canoing trip in which he wrote the following sentence;
"Penn's daughter Margaret fished in the Delaware".
The question the fact checker wanted answered was whether or not there should be commas around Margaret.
The presence or absence of commas would, in effect, indicate whether Penn had one daughter or more than one.
Therefore the commas in this instance became facts.
(You may, like me have to read this sentence aloud with, and without the commas to verify this)
These fact checkers are determined to move heaven and earth to insure that every word is accurate , one of the most dilligent of the New Yorkers fact checkers was one Sara Lippincott.
She told a delightful story to John Mc Phee about a time when the magazine made one of its rare errors in fact: A reader who was in a nursing home and alive was very irate to see himself referred to as "the late".
He wrote demanding a correction. The New Yorker in its next issue of course complied, inadvertently doubling the error, because the reader died over the weekend while the magazine was being printed.