But the renewed attention on the trade bloc uniting Canada, Mexico and the United States has coincided with a growing round of false and inaccurate claims about NAFTA specifically and American trade policy in general.
To address the problem, North American fact-checkers decided during a regional breakout session at the (IFCN-organized) Global Fact-Checking Summit in June that trade was one of their most important topics — and one that they needed help covering.
“When we came together as North American fact-checkers, we wanted to do something to highlight fact-checking around the region and trade seemed like a natural topic,” said Angie Holan, editor of (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact.
So today, publishers from the United States, Canada and Mexico are publishing fact checks in tandem that tackle some of the biggest misconceptions about trade, tariffs and NAFTA. Throughout Fact-Checking Trade Day, participating fact-checkers will publish pieces related to North American trade using #NAFTAcheck and #TradeFacts on Twitter.
— Poynter (@Poynter) September 24, 2018
The goal: Bring more attention to policy issues that don’t get enough attention in a 24-hour news cycle dominated by Trump coverage.
“It’s just a way to bring a little attention to fact-checking through issues that maybe aren’t so digestible all the time,” Holan said. “If a few more people are reading coverage of trade and tariffs than we would ordinarily, then I’m satisfied.”
The timing is intentional; 25 years ago this month, President Bill Clinton finalized negotiations for NAFTA, which went into effect in January 1994. And it’s not the first time fact-checking projects have collaborated on a specific topic.
In 2015, 12 fact-checkers from 10 countries teamed up to cover the G20 summit in Turkey. It was the second time fact-checkers worked together to cover G20 and followed a televised “relay-check” in which media organizations worked together to cover misconceptions about the refugee crisis.
Here is a running list of coverage that North American fact-checkers have published for Fact-Checking Trade Day.