Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind

The profession of fact-checking was created by TIME in 1923. The first publication of its kind, TIME served as an aggregator, culling stories from 300 newspapers, and its reporting was advertised as “written after the most thorough and exhaustive scrutiny of news-sources.” However this “exhaustive scrutiny” was considered women’s work from its inception. 

Early advertisements for TIME aimed to convey the superiority of subscribing to a single, fact-checked news source. Included in almost every issue of its first two volumes, the advertisements referenced literary and historical myths (of Homer, Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, etc.) to promote the necessity of fact-checking—“When Theseus went into the Labyrinth, he was no fool.” Indeed TIME’s official reference library contained only 3 volumes: Homer’s Iliad, the Bible, and Xenophon's Anabasis. Co-founder Briton Hadden required that TIME’s writing style was to be modeled after Homer, in which subjects and verbs are written in reverse order.

From the tradition of oral bards to the distribution of media today, certain stories continue to circulate through time and across culture while others transform or disappear altogether. The stories of the first fact-checkers have been historically overlooked and literally (thanks to a fire) lost. Through this research, checking the history of fact-checking, the simultaneous presence and absence of these women and their work is brought to the fore—as their work is still used by reputable news sources to this day.