As a journalist, you need to be as accurate as possible. Most of the time, this is an easy task. It requires simple searches to find documented answers. It get more complicated when you start digging into history.

While reading about something completely different on Reddit, I came across a link to the CGP Grey video about The Race to Win Staten Island between New York and New Jersey.

New York proposed a race all islands that could be encircled in less than 24 hours would belong to New York not to New Jersey. Staten Island was the big prize then described as the most commodious and richest land. New Jersey wanted it and given the island is huge and back in the day boats were slow, New Jersey thought the island impossible to encircle in under a day and so it would be hers but young New York determined to expand her empire states thought she had the man for the job Captain Christopher Billopp. The clever captain lashed empty barrels to his ship to help catch the wind and make haste and it was this that made the difference, winning the race against time and encircling the most commodious island of Staten for New York in just over 23 hours.

But, is any of this true? Surely, such an important decision about who owns Staten Island is documented somewhere? Don’t be too sure about it.

As the video shows, not everything has an easy answer. Finding the truth on a topic becomes more difficult as time passes, especially if there isn’t any accurate documentation. People also like to embellish stories and oral traditions as time passes.

In my years as a journalist, I have encountered this many times. When I can’t verify something as true, I explain to the reader where I found the information and what walls I come across. I once wrote a story about a man from Scottsbluff who died in Vietnam. It was an extremely interesting story, but I hit walls everywhere I looked.

When the story was published, something cool happened. A relative, who lives in another part of Nebraska, read the story and contacted me with more details. I was able to write a followup story. With that story, I came across a person who knew this gentleman and provided me with more details, however, my editor never let me do a third story. It is on my list of things to write about one day when I have more time.

While all this information is from third parties, it opened doors for me which were previously closed and can lead to uncovering more factual, documented, and accurate information.

While I can’t speak publicly about a project I am assisting on at the moment, I am the the same position today. I have arrived at several dead ends only to find another door to go through. At the moment, I am frustrated because there seems to be no more doors to open, but I haven’t given up. I’m convinced I haven’t found the right key to unlock the door yet.

Although this can be frustrating from time to time, it is one of the things I enjoy about history and communicating that information through writing to the public. I’m not sure what the final story will be in my project, but I can assure you, it will be as accurate as possible.