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Letter From the Editor: Our Commitment to Readers

Introducing Pacific Standard's March/April 2017 issue.

Which of the three stories below is actually true?

  1. Hillary Clinton operated a child sex ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., during the 2016 presidential race.
  2. Before the legislative session in 2014 wrapped, every Democrat in the Florida Senate voted to impose sharia law on the women in their constituencies — barring them from voting.
  3. At a Donald Trump rally in Manhattan, thousands of supporters chanted, “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back!”

Trick question. None are. Each was cited in an end-of-year report from the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, which declared fake news the big lie of 2016.

“Each year, PolitiFact awards a ‘Lie of the Year’ to take stock of misrepresentation that arguably beats all others in its impact or ridiculousness,” editor Angie Drobnic Holan wrote. “Because of its powerful symbolism in an election year filled with rampant and outrageous lying — PolitiFact is naming Fake News the 2016 ‘winner.’”

Fake news can be found everywhere, from your Facebook feed to Google News, from television roundtables to podcasts, videos, and other new and emerging media. A number of outlets have announced inventive ways to signal fake news and alert readers when there’s potential trouble ahead.

But we have a more straightforward solution: Don’t publish any of it. We know you have a lot of different publications vying for your attention, but our commitment to readers is that, when you choose Pacific Standard, you’re only going to get the best.

In the interest of transparency, here’s a peek behind the curtain: Each of the dozens of stories that appear in our magazine moves through a series of steps that, in our in-house workflow document, runs to three pages. Once a story editor has signed off on a manuscript, often after several months, sometimes after a year or more of careful reporting, the piece is assigned to a fact checker, who verifies not just dates and details, but often re-reports stories from the start. It’s a time-consuming process, but we feel strongly that it results in the best possible stories and is in the interest of our writers, sources, subjects, and, most importantly, readers.

After the writer has worked with a fact checker, research editor, and story editor to vet the manuscript, it passes through a copy editor, a designer, a series of proofreaders, and, finally, me. This ensures that at least a dozen people have touched the story before it lands in your hands. Our ultimate goal is to bring you stories that matter, and a big part of that mission is producing stories you can trust.