As part of our educational mandate and commitment to quality journalism, we fact-check all of the original stories we commission both for the print magazine and our website—whether an investigative feature, personal essay, or a book review.
Fact checking at The Walrus involves three main steps:
- Verification: Given a fact and a variety of sources, can it be confirmed that the fact is true?
- Investigation: What do other established sources say about this fact? Is there any kind of nuance or context missing from the original statement?
- Documentation: After the statement is confirmed or corrected, all sources, documents, and methodology are preserved in the fact-checking records of The Walrus.
Fact checkers at The Walrus check all the facts in a given story, not just the ones that look suspicious or require new reporting. The fact-checking team reaches out to interviewed sources and relevant experts to verify claims. They also consult gathered sources, which may include previous research done by The Walrus (we maintain records for several years), reporting by trusted publications (such as other fact-checked magazines), online databases, and research resources, among others.
All writers are contractually obligated to assist our fact checkers throughout production. While every member of the editorial team is responsible for upholding the publication’s fact-checking standards, they are maintained by The Walrus head of research. The Walrus provides robust fact-checking training to young professionals through its Editorial Fellowship Program; we rely both on fellows and freelancers to fact-check the content of the magazine.
The Walrus is committed to a fair, accurate, transparent, and independent editorial process. Our fact-checking standards and methodology are informed by the Truth in Journalism Fact-Checking Guide, written by current and former heads of research Allison Baker and Viviane Fairbank.
Every source in a story to be published by The Walrus should be faithfully represented. To that end, we give individuals, companies, and organizations the chance to hear and respond to accusations or critiques and note their responses—or refusal to respond—in the piece. This may also include reaching out to relevant sources who may not have been interviewed by the reporter.
The best journalism—no matter how descriptive, opinion driven, or narrative driven—is based on facts, and those facts should be clearly presented in the story and be free of errors. The Walrus first counts on its writers to make independent, fact-based evaluations ensuring the validity of their arguments and finding a balance between various perspectives on any given issue while keeping in mind the reliability and motivations of individual sources.
The Walrus fact checkers review and verify everything from broad claims made by writers to small details such as dates and the spellings of names. Once a story is published, fact-checking records are archived and preserved internally for a number of years.
We are committed to transparency about our sources and our methodology. We prioritize on-the-record interviews and authoritative sources and documentation (experts and statistical reports, for example). Where an authoritative source cannot be found, we require at least two secondary sources (such as news reports from trusted media outlets) to confirm a fact; we will only ever consider the writer an authoritative source if the subject under consideration is a personal experience that affects no one but the writer.
Nobody should be surprised to find their name in a story published by The Walrus. With very few exceptions, we contact the person, website, or organization that made the statement we are fact-checking, as well as anyone otherwise identifiable in a piece, directly. In cases where an individual is known to the editorial team but must be veiled from the public to ensure their personal security, we provide as much contextual detail as possible in the story.
Our commitment to transparency also includes acknowledging the limitations of our work. We make it clear in a story if there is a lack of authoritative sources for a particular fact or statement. If a fact or statement cannot be independently verified, it will not be published.
As soon as The Walrus is made aware of a potential error in our reporting, fact checkers will review the statement that has been challenged. Any corrections needed will be noted online at the end of the relevant article. The correction will reference the original error and supply the correct information and the date on which the change was made. If the story originally ran in a print issue, a correction will also appear in the Letters page in the next issue. The inaccuracy will also be corrected in the web version of the story. If you notice an error in any of our stories, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Correction.”
Journalism at The Walrus is independent of commercial or political interests. In order to avoid any conflict of interest or appearance thereof, the editorial staff and writers do not accept gifts. When a writer relies on an organization for travel or access to an event or product, we are transparent about the relationship and note it within the relevant work. We also cite potential conflicts of interest—and, where applicable, credit funding sources—on the same page as the relevant work.