The Toronto Star’s public editor Kathy English highlighted the importance of being careful with superlatives like the “first, only, most, biggest, oldest, newest, longest of anything whatsoever.” She wrote:
“When superlatives are claimed, journalists should always verify the information or qualify it to make it clear to readers it is what the source says. Sources should also be pushed to explain why they are sure of the claim. Verification is the essence of journalism and ‘how do you know what you state as fact’ is a question reporters and their editors need to both ask and answer.”
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English’s reminder was prompted by reader questions of the Star’s June 19 article on dance instructor Doreen Hayes that claimed Hayes is “the owner the country’s longest running privately owned dance studio.”