I hired Two Giant Eyeballs cofounders Stephanie Fairyington and Shirley Velasquez, as the research chiefs at Elle when I was the managing editor. Over the collective four years I worked with them, I was constantly impressed with their legal acumen, media savvy, and exceptional skills at organizing and managing their departments. They navigated complex stories with intelligence, sensitivity, rigor, and grace under crushing deadlines, while always maintaining the highest level of professionalism. The fact-checking process often requires researchers to do some back-end or follow-up reporting, and they would always do so with the confidence and ease of veteran journalists, careful not to ask questions that could potentially unravel a story. They also made astute suggestions when inaccuracies were discovered, demonstrating their own writing and editorial strengths. Their detailed dedication to their job easily won them the respect of some of journalism’s toughest and most seasoned editors at one of the largest magazines in the world. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
Two Giant Eyeballs cofounder Steph Fairyington is an excellent reporter: determined, focused, precise. As an interviewer, she is aggressive yet polite, gracefully confirming facts while gathering new information. Having worked with her at HIV magazine Poz, where she wound her way through the tricky and ever-changing landscape of medical treatment and scientific developments while cultivating valuable relationships with a variety of sources as well as editors, I can vouch for her professionalism as embodied by her thorough and easygoing approach. It came as no surprise to me when Steph rose from fact-checker to research editor in less than a year after working at Glamour, where she researched a wide range of subjects from health to activism. Her own writing in such publications as the Utne Reader, The New York Observer, and Elle further reveals her knack for original reporting and incisive research.
Over the course of twenty years writing for Premiere, Talk, and Elle magazines, I can say that the greatest researchers teach even veteran writers how to be better reporters. Stephanie and Shirley are tops in the business. I learn something from them every time they catch a mistake—and it seems in every story they do. Working with them is a humbling experience. I'm always grateful that one of these women fact checked my piece. Because no matter who the writer is, or how great the story, a mistake is what every reader remembers. It undermines everything. My many thanks to them for everything they've taught me and for keeping my facts straight over the last ten years!
I worked with Two Giant Eyeballs cofounders Stephanie and Shirley at Glamour. They were my go-to researchers for the most legally sensitive stories. They were meticulous fact-checkers with an excellent grasp of legal issues, usually knowing what the lawyers would say before even speaking with them. At the same time, they were also diplomatic when working with challenging material and were able to professionally navigate relationships with subjects, writers, and editors. Everyone noticed their top-level work. Shirley went on to become a senior reporter, and Stephanie the research editor at Elle. I highly recommend them both.
When reporters finish a complicated investigative story, only half the work is done. The other half—any honest writer would admit—is done by the fact-checker. You’d better have a good one. Shirley Velasquez is as good as they get. Shirley was my fact-checker and reporter on a number of very complicated, sensitive, and high-stakes investigative articles for Glamour, for which I (and the magazine) won an array of major awards from 2003 to 2006. Without her diligence, savvy, and wide-ranging skills, those articles would never have been published to such great effect—or without lawsuits. She took articles that strongly criticized the most notoriously litigious subjects (the Church of Scientology), the most intentionally inscrutable subjects (national security analysts, John Ashcroft’s Department of Justice), and the most globally far-flung topics (the mass outsourcing of American jobs to India when “outsourcing” was the word on every American’s lips). Against tight deadlines, Shirley combed through stories so that they were accurate to within an inch of their life. She also performed such necessary miracles as repeated phone calls in the middle of the night to sources in Asia. She soothed sources or miffed experts who had tired of me. Her professional manner was always in the service of nailing down each fact and getting follow-up questions answered. During the reporting of one article, we traveled together to El Salvador. Shirley was key to unearthing details of the decades-old execution of an impoverished family during the country’s bloody civil war. And during research for an article I wrote on sweatshops in Los Angeles, Shirley went undercover as a sweatshop worker, for a week.