PolitiFact turned 10 years old in August this year, and we celebrated the anniversary with reflection and gratitude.
I wrote a column looking back at how fact-checking has become both easier and harder. The work itself — researching, reporting and publishing — is flourishing, while our political discourse has gotten meaner and more partisan. Read my thoughts here.
From left: Aaron Sharockman, Politifact’s executive director; Angie Holan, Politifact Editor; PolitiFact founder Bill Adair, and Tampa Bay Times Editor and Vice President Neil Brown at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. (Photo by Eve Edelheit of the Tampa Bay Times)
We also held an event at the Poynter Institute where myself, founding editor Bill Adair and Tampa Bay Times executive editor Neil Brown discussed PolitiFact’s birth; we also took questions from the audience. Read a report about the event.
CNN’s Brian Stelter of Reliable Sources recently penned a column on the impact of fact-checking on President Donald Trump and his administration. Then Brian invited me and the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler on the show to discuss it.
I told Brian that people “are better informed than ever about what politicians say and if their statements are literally true or not,” partly thanks to specialized fact-checkers, and partly thanks to “traditional political journalists putting corrective information into their reports much more than they used to.” Read his full column and check out the Reliable Sources segment below.
MADRID — For the fourth year in a row, I’ve gathered with fact-checkers from around the world to discuss best practices and highest principles, with lots of time for socializing. We come together to confab, commiserate and encourage as we all go about our work of holding the powerful accountable and giving our readers the facts on what’s true and what’s not.
Global Fact 4 drew 190 attendees from around the world. (Photo by Mario Garcia)
I saw two major themes at this year’s conference: technology and trust.
For technology, Bill Adair of Duke Reporters’ Lab showed us the latest on automation and Share the Facts, coding that allows fact-checks to be shared and highlighted in search findings. Meanwhile, the UK fact-checkers at Full Fact showed us how they’re using automated processes to identify and flag false statements and then present corrective information simultaneously. Both efforts are exciting and point to new ways of getting accurate, vetted information in front of people on the Internet.
Interestingly, basic trust struck me as the trickier issue. Several speakers mentioned the high levels of partisanship among the general public, a.k.a. our audience. That partisanship sometimes makes people hostile to fact-checking or evidence-based findings that contradict their world view. As one academic put it, partisanship is a social identity, not a cognitive tool. That means people can perceive fact-checking as threatening (or bolstering) to their own sense of identity, instead of simply seeing fact-checks as information that helps them make decisions. Reaching out to audiences that are suspicious of fact-checking remains one of our most important tasks, and we’re still figuring out the best ways to understand and address their concerns about our processes and work.
Laura Zommer of Chequeado and I present on fact-checking methods at Global Fact 4 in Madrid. (Photo by Mario Garcia)
The International Fact-checking Network, which grew out of the first year’s conference, hosted this event and announced new grants to increase fact-checking’s reach around the world. The next few years will be exciting, and I’m already looking forward to Global Fact 5 in 2018.
PolitiFact joined with other fact-checkers from around the world to observe International Fact-Checking Day on April 2. Here’s the column I wrote about why we need a day to celebrate fact-checking and how the International Fact-Checking Network came up with the idea. It starts:
With all the phony headlines and hoaxes floating around the Internet, it can feel like April Fool’s any day of the year.
At PolitiFact, we’re debunking more false claims than ever. It’s a sad trend that people will maliciously invent fictitious stories and then pass them off as real, hoping for clicks. That’s our definition of fake news.
The hoax stories tend to straddle the line between absurd and disturbing. READ MORE …
On C-SPAN, I recently talked about PolitiFact’s Obameter project, which tracks President Barack Obama’s campaign promises.
PolitiFact recently announced it would join with other independent fact-checkers to fact-check fake news on Facebook. (Read PolitiFact’s announcement.) I talked about that initiative with Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
PolitiFact unveiled its “Lie of the Year” for 2016 on MTP Daily with Chuck Todd. Read the story on the PolitiFact website.
PolitiFact was recently featured on Vice News. The report looked at how we fact-check on debate nights.
I went on C-SPAN to discuss PolitiFact’s fact-checking of the 2016 presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
I wrote this column for PolitiFact reflecting on what I’ve seen fact-checking debates since 2007.
Do you yell at the TV when you see an interviewer letting a politician get away with spinning the truth? I know I do. But let’s admit the reality: Questioning candidates on live TV is harder than it looks. And moderating a presidential debate is probably the hardest.
Just look at the typical criticism of debate moderators. They ask dumb questions. They ask inside-baseball questions. The questions are too tough. The questions are too soft. They don’t follow up. They flog a pointless line of questioning.
This will be my third time fact-checking presidential debates, and while criticizing the moderators is common, I’ve seen a few things that make a difference between good moderating and lousy moderating. MORE ...