Journalistic Standards & Methodologies
Updated Sept 13, 2022 with improved linking and new content.
Our journalistic standards & research methodologies are designed to counter disinformation by adhering to these principles:
This endeavor relies on the stringent verification of facts. We strive to be objective. What matters is that a claim is supported by empirical evidence and proven reproducible methods. We are firmly committed to being transparent about sources. We provide links to sources so readers can have access to the same data we used to reach our conclusions. This allows the reader to verify the information for their own edification, and to easily counter disinformation. We welcome debate, providing it is accompanied by evidence for our examination.
Source Document Standards
We recognize the importance of clearly identifying sources. We identify all Primary and Secondary sources we use. We will also disclose how we found these sources, so the reader can follow the same path to obtain the same source document. References must have a traceable path that terminates at its OSD. Statements that quote historical text will be done verbatim.
Due to the immense breadth of information accumulated and archived over the centuries, we use every tool possible to uncover and verify fact. We incorporate techniques found in various methodologies, including the Historical Method, Archival Research and in case of verifying information of physical items, the Scientific method. We use the product of these methodologies to write factual accounts of the past.
History should not be altered or re-written unless the change is fully supported by empirical evidence that has passed objective peer review. Only then, history should be augmented with the new information. A clear path from prior evidence and assumptions should then be linked directly to the updated information so the comparison is acknowledged. Furthermore, historical fact must never be removed from public eye, as its presence is an educational tool from which society can strive to learn from – even if that lesson is uncomfortable to consider.
Why Do Journalistic Standards Matter?
Countering Rampant Disinformation
In our society, disinformation runs rampant. Disinformation can not only alter public opinion, it is powerful enough to undermine civil society. It can also be used to target a community. Today, that threat is omnipresent.
Those who wish to spread disinformation have learned sophisticated techniques by observing foreign interference in the US national election of 2016. Social media was then, and remains now, the top weapon of choice. This is an easy task to achieve when the message, accurate or not, confirms the bias of mass-readership in a viral manner.
The perfect storm of uninformed opinion and here-say has drowned out reasonable discourse and empiricism. Social media channels, and mainstream news networks, publish soundbites quickly and sometimes without fully vetting the facts. This disinformation is often echoed by celebrities and then by their fan base. This furthers suspicion and division, and damages society even further. If they happen at all, retractions are rare and inconspicuous. Some must be forced by legal action.
There is no time greater than now to correct this issue, and to remain vigilant by comparing opinion, myth and stereotype against established fact. Even items of great benefit, and thought to be well understood by the public, are not safe from disinformation. An excellent example is vaccines – they work, as their efficacy and safety have been proven over and over through the scientific method. Yet today we see a resurgence in formerly eradicated diseases because disinformation has convinced some parents not to vaccinate their children.
The battle between empiricism and opinion has dire consequences. When proven methodologies are ignored and disinformation is permitted to go unchecked, falsehoods become thought of as fact. This is especially dangerous in our public educational system. Disinformation and unsupported myths cause impressionable children to develop deep biases.
Claims asserted without evidence will be dismissed without evidence.
– Christopher Hitchens