Naomi Wolf’s Book “Outrages” Sparks Debate Over Whether Publishers Should Take Responsibility for the Accuracy of Their BooksHistorians in the News
tags: publishing, Naomi Wolf, accuracy
In an era plagued by deep fakes and online disinformation campaigns, we still tend to trust what we read in books. But should we?
In the past year alone, errors in books by several high-profile authors — including Naomi Wolf, the former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, the historian Jared Diamond, the behavioral scientist and “happiness expert” Paul Dolan and the journalist Michael Wolff — have ignited a debate over whether publishers should take more responsibility for the accuracy of their books.
Some authors are hiring independent fact checkers to review their books. A few nonfiction editors at major publishing companies have started including rigorous professional fact-checking in their suite of editorial services.
While in the fallout of each accuracy scandal everyone asks where the fact checkers are, there isn’t broad agreement on who should be paying for what is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process in the low-margin publishing industry.
... Publishers have long maintained that fact-checking every book would be prohibitively expensive, and that the responsibility falls on authors, who hold the copyrights. But in today’s polarized media landscape, that stance appears to be shifting as some publishers privately agree that they should be doing more, particularly when the subject matter is controversial.
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