Does a nonfiction article need facts?

Does a nonfiction article need facts?
Do photos need all their pixels to be true?

John D’Agata wrote an essay and a magazine accepted it, but the magazine’s fact-checker said there were some facts that were wrong. Mr. D’Agata and the fact-checker, Jim Fingal, spent seven years trying to hash out what was true and what was not true. John D’Agata then published a book, along with all the correspondence between the two, called The Lifespan of a Fact.

Slate writer Dan Kois writes an article to explain:

I wonder how any reader can take D’Agata seriously when "What Happens There," the essay being checked in Lifespan, is rife with inaccuracies, altered quotes, half-remembered events, and outright falsehoods. "You feel misled by my essay," he said. "I accept that. You feel that it’s inappropriate for me to have done this. While I feel that it’s a necessary part of my job to do this. By taking these liberties, I’m making a better work of arta truer experience for the readerthan if I stuck to the facts."

Photo is of writer John D’Agata.

Facts Are Stupid. An essayist and his fact-checker go to battle over the line between true and false. Slate>>

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One thought on “Does a nonfiction article need facts?

  1. I’m sick of "art" that tries to blur the line between what’s true and not true. Face it, "artists," some things are true and some things are not true. What about the guy that Mr. postmodern D’Agata was writing about? Don’t you think there was something "true" about his life? I’d say that if D’Agata wrote for a newspaper he should be demoted to writing obits, but he wouldn’t last long if he made up facts there.

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