Did That Happen Last Year? Don’t Assume So

Remember checks? Those things you used to write when you were paying bills?

The start of a new year was always the time when you’d date one with the wrong year. Then you’d have to rip it up and start over.

The start of a new year is also the time when it’s easy to make a mistake in a story by saying something happened “last year.”

Yes, this is obvious — but please remember that 2017 is no longer “last year.”

Also, don’t trust your memory. As we say on the NPR Accuracy Checklist, dates are among the 13 things that must be double- or triple-checked. Maybe that event was in 2016 or some other year.

Finally, remember that dates and the other facts on the list must be checked “before a story is turned in to an editor.” Do not assume someone else is going to do your CQing.

(“Memmos;” Jan. 3, 2019)

January 3, 2019

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