…how a piece gets edited at a place like The New Republic. This is a system that Michael Kelly brought with him from The New Yorker.
A three-day torture test. If your article is good, the process will only make it better. If your article is shaky, you’re in for a long week.
A story comes in, and it goes to a senior editor.
He, or she, edits it on computer.
Then calls in the writer, who makes revisions.
Then the piece goes to a second editor, and the writer revises it again.
Then it goes through a fact-check, where every fact in the piece, every date, every title, every place or assertion is checked and verified.
The the piece goes to a copy editor, where it is scrutinized once again.
Then it goes to lawyers, who apply their own burdens of proof.
Marty [Peretz, TNR Publisher] looks at it too. He’s very concerned with any kind of comment the magazine is making.
Then production takes it, and lays it out into column inches and type.
Then it goes back on paper, then back to the writer, back to the copy editor, back to editor number one and editor number two, back to the fact checker, back to the writer and back to production again.
Throughout, those lawyers are reading and re-reading looking for red flags, anything that feels uncorroborated. Once they’re satisfied, the pages are reprinted and it all happens again. Every editor, the fact-checkers… they all go through it one last time.
Now, most of you will start out as interns somewhere. And interns do a lot of fact-checking, so pay close attention. There’s a hole in the fact-checking system. A big one. The facts on most pieces can be checked against some type of source material. If an article’s on, say, ethanol subsidies, you could check for discrepancies against the Congressional Record, trade publications, LexisNexis and footage from C-SPAN. But on other pieces the only source material available are the notes provided by the reporter himself.
— Billy Ray i H.G. Bissinger, guió de la pel·lícula Shattered Glass (2004), a partir del 48’54”.