October 18, 2017

Michelle Ye Hee Lee, a reporter for The Washington Post Fact Checker, is leaving to report for the newspaper’s political enterprise and investigations team.

Lee, one of three people on the Post’s fact-checking team, told Poynter in an email last week that she would be joining the team — which includes Rosalind Helderman and Matea Gold — on Monday. The Post officially announced her move this morning in an email to the newsroom.

“I’m grateful for and excited about the opportunity to work with such a rockstar team of reporters and editors,” Lee said. “I’ve learned so much in this job … I’ve learned to think creatively about presenting fact-checking in new digital formats, and that there are so many untapped digital opportunities.”

On the political investigations team, Lee will report on the role of money in politics, according to the announcement. 

After joining the Fact Checker in November 2014, Lee contributed several innovations to the team. She created a weekly newsletter that promotes their fact checks in between lolcat GIFs (It now has more than 150,000 subscribers, according to Glenn Kessler, who runs the Fact Checker). Lee is also responsible for bringing fact checks to the Post’s Snapchat Discover page and has been a key part of the effort to create fact-checking videos.

She said those experiences will serve her well in her new role.

“Working on Fact Checker has shown me just how easy it is for people to live in a silo of rhetoric and political beliefs,” Lee said. “I’ve learned how difficult yet rewarding it is to build trust with your audience, and how important it is to be transparent and consistent in order to earn that trust.”

Kessler told Poynter that Lee will be missed.

“Michelle has been a valued partner of mine for three years – a terrific reporter, skilled writer and thoughtful sounding board,” he said. “I am certain Michelle’s byline will signify the best in accountability journalism for our readers.”

Outside of the Post, Lee is also the senior vice president of the Asian American Journalists Association. In November, she wrote an essay about what it was like to be a female, Asian fact-checker during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It took aim at the intensely racist and sexist comments she received as a result of her fact checks.

The application for Lee’s replacement closed last Friday, and Kessler tweeted that more than 60 people had applied as of that morning.

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Daniel Funke is a staff writer covering online misinformation for PolitiFact. He previously reported for Poynter as a fact-checking reporter and a Google News Lab…
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