AP: There is one difference, according to my experience … in the process of research you are on a team with the author. In process of fact checking, it’s more of an adversarial relationship.

MS: The relationship is different, true. But the way of working isn’t. In both cases, I try to find accurate information. In the research phase, I try to find a broader amount of information. And the fact checking is guided by the facts provided in the article.

CS: Do you think your readers know about this very involved fact checking process?

AP: I think so, yeah. One of the reasons to have such a big and of course financially significant fact checking and research department is to build up a special relationship between reader and magazine. In German there is a term [that means] “reader-magazine connection.” And it has something to do with the special image of Der Spiegel in Germany.

CS: Why do you think you’re the only ones who do this in Germany?

AP: We’re not the only one. We’re the one who does it in the most sophisticated way.

MS: I think it is a [part of our magazine’s] culture, and because Der Spiegel wants to be—and is—a high quality product.

AP: And let’s say it: For many years [the magazine] was also economically a very successful product. It had the money to sustain such a significant department, and that’s the reason why it’s interesting to see what is going to happen when [we have] less money.

Correction of the Week

“An earlier edition of this story incorrectly stated that ACORN advisers posed as a prostitute and a pimp. In fact, two conservatives who posed as a pimp and a prostitute sought tax tips from ACORN advisers.” – The Washington Post

Craig Silverman is the editor of RegretTheError.com and the author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. He is also the editorial director of OpenFile.ca and a columnist for the Toronto Star.