Digital Fact-checking Journalism

PolitiFact’s 2018 Lie of the Year

Here’s how this year’s ‘Lie of the Year’ story starts:

In the days after 17 people were viciously gunned down at a high school in Florida, the state’s Republican governor called for tighter gun laws and President Donald Trump hosted victims’ families in the State Dining Room.

The nation seemed steadfast in seeking answers and finding solutions.

“It’s not going to be talk like it has been in the past,” Trump said. “It’s been going on too long. Too many instances, and we’re going to get it done.”

But in the shadows, the internet engine of hoaxes and smears had started.


We also debuted the Lie of the Year on MSNBC. Here’s video

Digital Fact-checking Journalism

Marketplace: Fact-checking Facebook

I appeared on the radio program Marketplace recently to discuss PolitiFact’s fact-checking of Facebook. It was a good conversation; we talked about the persistence of false information and the historical challenge of fact-checking. Click below to listen to the program or visit the Marketplace website.

Digital Fact-checking Journalism

The Atlantic’s Humanity + Tech event: How can we combat fake news and digital misinformation?

I was on a panel recently in The Atlantic’s Humanity + Tech event, underwritten by Google and in collaboration with MIT Media Lab. We had a fascinating discussion about combatting misinformation and fake news. Here’s the video via YouTube.

Digital Fact-checking Journalism

Bots & Ballots podcast

I was pretty sick with near laryngitis when I recorded this podcast last month for Bots & Ballots. But I’m glad I did it because I thought it was an interesting conversation. This is what I said is the problem with politicians saying things that aren’t true: “It distracts the conversation from reality and addressing real problems in a constructive way. That’s a huge part of the negative consequences of political lying — you never get to the real issues because you’re too busy trying to establish what’s actually real.”

Listen to the podcast or read a Yahoo News summary.

Digital Fact-checking Journalism

PolitiFact’s fact-checking methodology

Over the years, PolitiFact has published many explanations of its fact-checking methodology, as well as the websites policies and practices. We recently published a significantly revamped version that includes many of the principles developed through the International Fact-checking Network. The IFCN’s code of principles deeply informs this version of our methodology, called “Principles of the Truth-O-Meter: PolitiFact’s methodology for independent fact-checking,” and it’s my favorite version yet when it comes to explaining how and why PolitiFact does what it does.

It starts:

Fact-checking journalism is the heart of PolitiFact. Our core principles are independence, transparency, fairness, thorough reporting and clear writing. The reason we publish is to give citizens the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy.

Since our launch in 2007, we’ve received many questions about how we choose facts to check, how we stay nonpartisan, how we go about fact-checking and other topics. This document attempts to answer those questions and many more. MORE …

Digital Fact-checking Journalism

C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’ and tracking President Barack Obama’s campaign promises

On C-SPAN, I recently talked about PolitiFact’s Obameter project, which tracks President Barack Obama’s campaign promises.

Digital Fact-checking Journalism

Fact-checking fake news on Facebook

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.


Scrolling on an iPhone causes motion sickness?

The scrolling on my iPhone Safari browser gives me motion sickness. It’s that same feeling I had as a child being carsick on long car rides. Even today I get queasy sometimes if I try to read in the car or if I sit on the D.C. metro going backwards. I’ve tried adjusting the motion settings on my phone to see if it would help, but it hasn’t. It’s something about scrolling and reading that is affecting me, because I don’t get the feeling at all on my Kindle, which turns pages rather than scrolling.

I’ve done some intensive searching on the Internet about this experience to see if anyone else has had it, and I’ve come up with nothing. I’m very interested in hearing about others’ experience or any studies of this phenomenon. My iPhone is a big part of my life and it’s not pleasant to feel ill while reading on it. If there’s a solution to this problem, I’d certainly like to find it.

Digital Fact-checking Journalism Librarianship

Annotating the State of the Union and responses

It warmed my librarians’ heart that PolitiFact’s first Kickstarter included annotating political rhetoric. My own definition of annotation is adding a note to an existing work to perform one or more of the following tasks:

  1.  explain the factual origins of the statement;
  2. provide additional context or analysis of the statement;
  3. comment on the statement (sometimes humorously);  or
  4. offer additional information related to the statement’s topic.

PolitiFact partnered with Genius on the project, using the Genius software that provides what I would describe as either in-line or off-set annotation. (See it here.)

I love reading endnotes in books. Robert Caro’s endnotes for his biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson come to mind as particularly marvelous. One of my favorite novels, Infinite Jest, is famous for its copious footnotes.

Digital History Travel

Washington by Instagram

We’ve been exploring Washington D.C., mostly by bike, ever since we moved here earlier this year. I like to snap photos of the monuments on my iPhone and post them to Instagram; it’s an amateur endeavor and totally fun. Here are some of my best shots so far.