Physician, Reveal Thyself

Top Medical Journal Admits to Lax Conflict Policy

"Accuracy is crucially important at APBnews.com," says Levins, and EQC is a way to "sample the quality of an ever larger number of writers. I have found in the past that when reporters know their stories are being subjected to comprehensive checks from time to time, they are better reporters for it." Here's how it works: Every week, one staffer and one freelancer turn over source material and contacts for their named subjects. One editor calls the subjects to discuss the reporter's accuracy and "general deportment," while another editor and lawyer analyze the text. The punishment for failure will depend on the kind of mistake.

Now writers are less wary of EQC, according to four who passed the test. In practice, the process seems not only "painless," but justified because, as one points out, "any good reporter shouldn't be afraid of scrutiny." (Confidential sources are not contacted.) Levins is pleased with the results so far, which show that his reporters have made "no major errors" and have been "professional, if somewhat persistent" in their information gathering.

It doesn't hurt that APB offers every writer who passes a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com. Says one EQC-approved writer, "With free swag to ease the pain, I am definitely down with the program."

ccotts@villagevoice.com

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