Fact Checking

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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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Publishers resurface evergreen content; Thailand’s the place to be for drone journalism

Here’s our roundup of the top digital and social media stories you should know about (and from Andrew Beaujon, 10 media stories to start your day):

— New York magazine is posting old content to its Facebook page, and Business Insider is doing so on its homepage, according to Digiday’s Ricardo Bilton. How timestamp-transparent should publishers be when resurfacing evergreen stories?

— Drone journalism won’t take off in South Africa or the U.S. anytime soon, according to Sydney Pead at PBS MediaShift. But in Thailand, “it’s considered a hobby” — and easier than playing Playstation 3 @Free PSN Codes Generator App .

— A new Twitter bot called @congressedits tracks Wikipedia edits from computers on Capitol Hill. David Uberti looks at six of the recent edits at Columbia Journalism Review. Read more

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Study: Political journalists opt for stenography over fact checking during presidential debates

During the 2012 U.S. presidential debates, political journalists on Twitter primarily repeated candidate claims without providing fact checks or other context, according to new research published in The International Journal of Press/Politics.

Authors Mark Coddington, Logan Molyneux and Regina G. Lawrence analyzed tweets from 430 political journalists during the debates to see how much they engaged in the checking of candidate claims. The resulting paper is “Fact Checking the Campaign: How Political Reporters Use Twitter to Set the Record Straight (or Not).”

They also examined whether the political journalist’s tweets fell more into the construct of traditional objectivity or what they call “scientific objectivity,” which eschews he said/she said in favor of empirical statements and analysis, i.e fact checking.

They found that 60 percent of the journalist tweets “reflected traditional practices of ‘professional’ objectivity: stenography—simply passing along a claim made by a politician—and ‘he said, she said’ repetition of a politician’s claims and his opponent’s counterclaim.”

Journalists largely repeated the claims and statement of candidates, rather that check or challenge them. Read more

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Truth Goggles launches as an annotation tool for journalists

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When Dan Schultz first described Truth Goggles close to three years go, he deemed it a “magic button” that could tell you “what is true and what is false on the web site you are viewing.”

That concept – which Schultz refers to as the “fact-check the Internet approach” – attracted a decent amount of press and enthusiasm at the time. Schultz shipped some related code as a result of him developing the project while at the MIT Media Lab.

Today, nearly three years later, he’s released the first Truth Goggles product — and it’s a departure from that original vision.

The Truth Goggles launching today is a tool to enable anyone to annotate an existing piece of online content to raise and answer questions about what’s been reported/written. Read more

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LinkedIn acquires major fact checking patents

Lucas Myslinski was tired of having to fact check the questionable emails his father often forwarded to him.

“My dad would send these emails where they say something like, ‘Oh the government is stockpiling billions of dollars of ammunition’ and other things like that, where if all you would do is take a little time and look on Snopes you would find it’s not true,” Myslinski said.

That very problem has inspired projects such as LazyTruth, Truth Goggles, and Trooclick, all of which I wrote about last week, as well as the Washington Post’s TruthTeller. There’s a broad consensus that in a world of abundant, and often incorrect, information it would be valuable to have an app that “automatically monitors, processes, fact checks information and indicates a status of the information.”

Myslinski sketched out his ideas and then took the step of patenting them. Read more

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Fact-checkers plan international organization

The Poynter Institute’s Global Fact-Checking Summit concluded Tuesday with participants voting to start an international association.

The group will build on the progress of the London summit to connect fact-checkers and convene future meetings, said Bill Adair, creator of PolitiFact and the summit’s organizer.

“The meeting showed there is a passionate community of fact-checkers that is growing around the world,” said Adair, a professor at Duke University and an adjunct faculty member at Poynter. “The association will keep the fact-checkers in touch with each other and help them learn from each other.”

Look out, untruths!

“We’re excited about the possibility of The Poynter Institute being the home of the international fact-checking organization, and producing a website that showcases members’ best work and impact on democracies” Poynter President Tim Franklin said. Read more

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At fact-checking summit, ‘We hope courage is contagious’

The stakes are high for fact-checkers in India, Govindraj Ethiraj from FactChecker.in said at Poynter’s Global Fact-Checking Summit in London Monday. Ethiraj risks his safety and credibility in order to fact-check politicians: “We do one thing wrong and our office will be burned up,” he said.

Summit attendees Monday.

Fact-checking is not always easy or safe, speakers said.

Macedonian fact-checker Bardhyl Jashari said, “We hope courage is contagious.” That’s why we fact-check, he said.

“Manufacturing of truth has become a multimillion dollar industry,” Tampa Bay Times Editor Neil Brown said in a keynote address. “This is where we come in to provide independent analysis.”

Brown.

Fact-checkers are “fighting difficult circumstances and bringing creativity to try to build this candid world,” Brown said.

The conference’s primary goal is to create a community among fact-checkers, said PolitiFact founder Bill Adair, who organized the summit, held at the London School of Economics. Read more

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Poynter to hold Global Fact-Checking Summit in London

With fact-checking growing around the world, the Poynter Institute will convene the first Global Fact-Checking Summit, to be held in June in London.

The conference, at the London School of Economics on June 9-10, will bring together about 40 fact-checkers from places such as South Africa, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, India, the United States, South America and Eastern Europe.

Fact-checking is expanding rapidly around the globe, according to a new analysis from the Duke University Reporters’ Lab. The Duke study found 59 sites that have been active in the last few years, including 44 currently in operation.

About half of the sites are affiliated with newspapers, television networks or other legacy media organizations. The other half are run by startup companies or not-for-profit groups. Twenty-seven have started in the past two years. Read more

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