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30+ sites for fact-checking political debates and other occasions for lies, rumors, hoaxes, misinformation, and inaccuracy

to keep on hand during the next political debates (and other occasions for doubt). Assembled by Pat McNees for her Writers and Editors website

FactCheck.org (Annenberg's excellent nonpartisan political fact checker--monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates,  Read More 
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Channeling rage to produce change

"Bearing witness is not a passive act," said [Terry Tempest] Williams.* "This story took such a toll," she said of the work she did in the Gulf. "There are certain things I wish I hadn't seen. Flying over the Gulf of Mexico, as far as you could see, from horizon to horizon, was oil.  Read More 
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Memoirs of war and conflict: A reading list

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung. "Twenty-five years after the rise of the Khmer Rouge, this powerful account is a triumph."~PW
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge. "He ... turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into  Read More 
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Essentials of self-publishing

Practical tips and insights, pros and cons, do's and don'ts, of self-publishing. Self-publishing is thriving, but if you are going to do it, go into the venture with your eyes wide open and be willing to hire the professionals needed to help you do an acceptable job. Here, from a special issue of Pasatiempo, are key passages  Read More 
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How to shape a book

by Pat McNees (updated 11-20-16)
Developmental editors help authors find the right shape for their book. You can also learn a lot about structure from the following pieces, among others:
Telling science stories…wait, what’s a “story”? (Bora Zivkovic, A Blog Around the Clock, 7-13-11). " In the Inverted Pyramid approach to journalism, the first couple of sentences (the “lede”) provide the next most important information, and so on, with the least important stuff at the end. In many ways, it is the opposite of a narrative – the punch-line goes first,  Read More 
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Authors' options in the changing book publishing game

In January 2015, SPJ and ASJA hosted an event focused on New Options for Authors in the Changing Book Publishing Game. Nell Minow and Tom Allen spoke at the beautiful Fund for American Studies in Dupont Circle. Here, by request, is the handout, helpful links from my Writers and Editors website.  Read More 
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Media perils and liability insurance 101

by Pat McNees, updated 11-3-18
First of all, freelance editors and writers are often sent boilerplate contracts that include clauses requiring liability insurance--which might make sense if you are rebuilding a wing of a building, but rarely make sense for a writer and certainly not for an editor. My advice (gained from others' experiences): Cross out that clause and tell the client that it isn't relevant because (if true) you don’t have employees, work onsite, travel on behalf of the client, see clients in your home office, operate heavy equipment, endanger the general welfare, and so forth. (Hat tip to Ruth E. Thaler-Carter for the wording.) If you raise an objection based on common sense, the client is likely to tell you just to strike the clause. If they don't and the fee is low, it probably won't make financial sense to sign the contract, or at least I would not do so. See also what Will MacPheat reports, in the Comments section.

Meanwhile, here's the best round up of information I have come up with for if you DO find yourself in a situation where you need to buy the insurance. Media perils liability insurance (or publishers liability insurance) may provide you with protection for such traditional claims as  Read More 
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Seniors Today interview about personal histories

Want to know what a personal history is and what personal historians do? So did Austin Heyman, who interviewed Debbie Brodsky and me for a Montgomery County, MD, cable show, Seniors Today.  Read More 
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Memoir, biography, and personal histories (how-to resources)

Here's a gateway to life story telling resources, whether you're doing it yourself, hiring a pro, or helping others tell their stories.

Telling your story

Articles, stories, websites, and other resources about how people have told their own, their family, or their company stories)
The art and craft of interviewing
Great interview questions and guides
Audio recording and editing equipment, software, and tutorials
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How reliable are our memories (how close to the truth)?

Updated 9-20-17, 4-3-15.
Whether you are working on a life story or having an argument with friends about an experience you shared years ago, consider what Oliver Sachs, Frank Bruni, Daniel Kahneman, Scott Fraser, Elizabeth Loftus, Maria Popova, Israel Rosenfield, Virginia Woolf, Suzanne Corkin, Joan Didion, Sally Mann, Sarah Manguso and Jane Austen (in the voice of Fanny Bryce) have to say about the nature, malleability, and unreliability of memory, as well as its role in constructing our identity, in  Read More 
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