Fact Checking

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Fact checking is on the rise, but there are many challenges

Fact checkers from around the world gathered  July 23 and 24 at City University London to discuss the issues and challenges around their craft. (Photo courtesy of Bill Adair)

Fact checkers from around the world gathered July 23 and 24 at City University London to discuss the issues and challenges around their craft. (Photo courtesy of Bill Adair)

The rise in numbers of fact checking sites around the world – from 44 to 64 in one year – sends a message for accountability journalism. Fact checking veterans and funders of newborn sites, met in London on July 23 and 24 for the second Global Fact-Checking Summit. Lots of lessons emerged, along with advice on how to move forward. But there are unanswered questions to be debated.

On whether to have a rating meter or not

Rating meters became the recognizable stamp for some fact checking sites, as the Washington Post’s Pinocchios or the Pants on Fire from PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter can testify. Read more

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Poynter to launch international fact checking site

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Global fact-checkers meet in London to talk about success and challenges ahead

Fact Checkers gather from around the world in London this week. (Photo by Federica Cherubini)

Fact Checkers gather from around the world in London this week. (Photo by Federica Cherubini)

From South Korea to Mexico, from India to Ukraine, from Kosovo to the U.S. the second Global Fact-Checking Summit gathers in London fact-checkers and experts from around the world On July 23 and 24. The summit has 74 participants from 31 countries.

Organized by The Poynter Institute and hosted by City University London, the event gathers what is the driving force behind the Summit and what fact-checking veteran Bill Adair describes as the “global movement of fact-checkers.” Over the two-day event, journalists, academics, and fact-checkers will discuss the state of accountability journalism worldwide.

The growth of fact-checking groups with active sites has gone from 44 a year ago to 64, but many issues and challenges lay ahead. Read more

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Minnesota Public Radio shows how to put the public into fact checking

DFLWiener_720“Ben Wiener will be another vote against Medicare.” Or so claimed a 2012 campaign flier targeting the Republican candidate in a close Minnesota legislative race.

The claim was false, according to Minnesota Public Radio’s PoliGraph. As the political fact checker noted, the state House would have no real say over federal efforts to fix a funding gap in the Medicare Part D program — despite what the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party suggested in its mailing to voters in Wiener’s district, halfway between Minneapolis and Duluth.

For Catharine Richert, the reporter who has led PoliGraph for the past four years, that was just another day of campaign truth-squadding. But Richert’s source on that particular story was worth noting: an alert but unnamed public radio listener in Pine City, about an hour north of Minneapolis, who had forwarded the message to the station. Read more

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Without fact checking, ISIS’ messages go unchallenged

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, speaks to a senate panel about social media and terrorism. (screengrab from C-Span.org)

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, speaks to a senate panel about social media and terrorism. (screengrab from C-Span.org)

Media worldwide have at times exaggerated the strength of ISIS terrorists due to a combination of their use of social media and an inability of the press to do effective warzone fact checking, a U.S. Senate panel was told Thursday.

A Senate hearing Thursday on ISIS briefly touched upon press coverage, with one expert noting rampant reports that began last fall of ISIS taking over the Libyan port city of Derna.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that ISIS’ “social media dominance” led to the widespread reports that it had taken over the city, replete with images of its flag over at least one major government building. Read more

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Report: Republicans don’t like fact checking as much as Democrats

American Press Institute

On Wednesday, American Press Institute released three reports on fact-checking journalism as part of The Fact Checking Project. Here are a few details from the report, which you can read in full here:

- Fact checking increased by 300 percent between 2008 and 2012.

- Readers like rating scales, such as the Pinocchio scale from The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, but they’re not essential.

- While the majority of people polled had “a favorable view” of fact-checking journalism, partisanship did make a difference.

From the report:

First, people who are less informed, educated, and politically knowledgeable have less positive views of the format. The learning elects we observed in our study as a result of exposure to fact-checking content were also somewhat less among participants with lower political knowledge.

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Academic research: ‘Huge growth’ in fact checking by the media

As some wring their hands about a decline in newsroom resources and quality, there’s a “huge growth” in fact checking in the coverage of politics, according to a new academic study.

Several thousand papers were delivered at the Midwest Political Science Association conference, including, “Where and Why Do Journalists Fact-Check.” The paper contends that reporters now fact-check politicians more than ever. One co-author describes it as an “explosion” that coincides with an obvious growth in the coverage of national politics.

“Every single elite organization engages in visible fact checking of politics,” Lucas Graves of the University of Wisconsin told a small audience on Thursday as he sketched the study’s preliminary findings.

“There are scores of dedicated fact-checking outlets that didn’t exist even five years ago.”

He cited the first dedicated fact-checking site as Spinsanity, launched in 2001 by one of his co-authors, Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College. Read more

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How the Rouhani Meter fact-checks Iran’s president from 6,000 miles away

This article was republished with permission by the Duke Reporters’ Lab. Daniel Carp is a senior researcher at Duke University.

The capital of Iran’s fact-checking movement is not in Tehran, but Toronto.

When Farhad Souzanchi wanted to promote government accountability in his home country of Iran and track the campaign promises of President Hassan Rouhani, his only choice was to open an office in Canada, more than 6,000 miles away. For the last 18 months, the Rouhani Meter — a unique fact-checking website because it is run remotely from another country — has broken new ground in fact-checking journalism.

Since Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as Iran’s seventh president Aug. 3, 2013, Souzanchi and has team have been tracking and updating a list of promises made during Rouhani’s campaign and the first 100 days of presidency. Read more

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The extreme ratings of fact-checkers around the world

This article was republished with permission by the Duke Reporters’ Lab. Claire Ballentine is a student researcher at the Lab.

A 2015 census of fact-checkers reveals the odd names they use for the most ridiculous falsehoods.

FactCheckEU calls them “Insane Whoppers.” The Voice of San Diego uses “Huckster Propaganda.” Honolulu Civil Beat refers to them as “Screaming Lies.”

From Rome to Hawaii and everywhere in between, the growth of political fact-checking has spawned new rating systems that use catchy names for the most ridiculous falsehoods.

While conducting our census of fact-checking sites around the world, we encountered some amusing ratings. Here is a sampling:

  • Canada’s Baloney Meter measures the accuracy of politicians’ statements based of how much “baloney” they contain. This ranges from “No Baloney” (the statement is completely accurate) to “Full of Baloney” (completely inaccurate).
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3 lessons from the G20 Summit ‘Factcheckathon’

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Earlier this week, nine fact-checking websites joined forces to fact-check the statements made by world leaders during the G20 summit in Australia. Glenn Kessler wrote about the results in The Washington Post. I coordinated this first factcheckathon with Cristina Tardàguila from O Globo and took home three important lessons.

  1. Global fact-checking experiments can yield useful results for comparative politics
    Our fact-checking network caught three of the eight world leaders we were monitoring saying essentially the same thing: Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, Barack Obama of the USA and Matteo Renzi of Italy all said something along the lines of “large amounts of jobs were created under my government” – and then proceeded to inflate their records. What was interesting was not so much that politicians chose to dabble with figures, but that they did so in such a similar manner.
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