“Fact-checking database”

Fact-checking map

Fact-checkers’ reach keeps growing around the globe

We’ve updated our map to make it easier to navigate 10 dozen active sites and projects the Reporters’ Lab is monitoring around the world.

By Mark Stencel – November 22, 2016 | Print this article

The 2016 U.S. election has involved a slew of misstatements from both presidential candidates, with no shortage of Pinocchios, “whoppers,” flip-flops and other “lowlights.” And that will certainly continue long after the ballots are officially counted.

More than 50 fact-checkers across the United States helped voters sort facts from fibs in this campaign year. With 2017 looking like another big year for truthiness and misstatements, the Duke Reporters’ Lab is rolling out some improvements on the global map we use to track this important journalism.

Based on our current count, fact-checkers are already on the job in at least 10 countries where voters will be casting ballots in the coming year, including Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic, France, India, Kenya, Netherlands, Senegal, Serbia and South Korea.

Overall, we currently count 119 active fact-checkers in 44 countries. And there are multiple fact-checkers working in 12 countries.

Because fact-checking is concentrated in many cities, making the checkmarks on our map overlap, we’ve added a clustering feature that will help users find and navigate the places where we have listed multiple teams.

The map now distinguishes the active fact-checkers (shown with red pins) from the more than 40 others that have closed for one reason or another (they’re indicated by gray pins). The map also has an up-to-date tally of both the active and inactive projects. You can click on that box to look at one category or the other.

Country-by-country lists, including a tally of active projects, are available with the “Browse in List” link (find it to the right of the map).

We regularly add new fact-checkers and review the status of older ones, so our tally sometimes goes up and down. We know from past years that some U.S. fact-checkers will close for the “off-season” and the same is true in other countries.

We’re always on the lookout for fact-checkers, including those that look at issues other than politics. One example is New York-based Gossip Cop — a recent addition to our database that’s been debunking celebrity rumors since 2009.

Other recent additions include US. fact-checkers at the Cincinnati Enquirer in Ohio and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. We also added or reactivated four others that came out of hibernation for the election.

International additions include established projects in Denmark, France and Japan, and newer initiatives in Kenya and Lithuania.

If you see a fact-checking venture we’re missing, please let us know: mark.stencel@duke.edu

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U.S. map

The facts about fact-checking across America

Local media is cranking up the scrutiny in 22 states and D.C. as the 2016 campaign season intensifies

By Mark Stencel – August 3, 2016 | Print this article

The U.S. presidential candidates aren’t the only ones getting scrutinized by political fact-checkers. A growing number of state and local media watchdogs are keeping a close eye on the statements of politicians closer to home, too.

The Duke Reporters’ Lab global database of fact-checking ventures counts 34 active state and local fact-checkers across the country. These initiatives vet the accuracy of the people holding and seeking office in 22 states and the District of Columbia. That includes 18 of the 34 states electing senators in 2016, three of which — Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina — also happen to be holding some of the year’s closest governor’s races.

These state and local efforts represent more than two-thirds of the 47 active fact-checking efforts across the United States. The other 13 primarily focus on national politics. They include long-running sites and columns, such as FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, the Washington Post Fact Checker and the Associated Press, as well as the work of other big media companies that pay attention national political players, especially when there’s a presidential election.

But that scrutiny is increasing in down-ballot races too.

Here are a few trends worth noting among the state and local fact checkers, including some of the similarities and differences with those doing the same kind of work nationally and around the world:

The News Media’s Role

Most U.S. fact-checkers are professional journalists. All but two of the 34 state and local fact-checkers are affiliated with regional media organizations, including 18 that are linked to newspaper companies and 12 that are tied to local TV news stations.

The fact-checking team in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is both — a joint project of the Gazette newspaper and local ABC affiliate KCRG-TV. And one site, PolitiFact Florida, involves two newspaper partners — the Miami Herald and PolitiFact’s owner, the Tampa Bay Times. Two others are tied to radio stations, and three are linked to digital news projects.

The leading role that newspapers, TV newsrooms and digital media outlets play in fact-checking is also true at the national level, but that is far less common outside the United States. About 60 percent of the international fact-checking initiatives the Reporters’ Lab tracks are stand-alone projects affiliated with or funded by civic non-profits and philanthropies focuses on government accountability.

In the United States, only two state and local fact-checkers are not connected to a news organization: Michigan Truth Squad, a reporting project that the non-profit Center for Michigan produces for its online journal; and the TruthBeTold.news, whose fact checks are part of a website staffed mainly by students in Howard University’s Department of Media, Journalism and Film in Washington, D.C.

At the national level, only three of 13 fact-checkers are not affiliated with other news companies: Verbatim, a project of the online encyclopedia Ballotpedia; FactCheck.org, which is based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center; and Snopes.com, the independent debunking project launched by a husband-and-wife team 21 years ago.

Local Competition

Voters can now get analysis from multiple local fact-checkers in at least nine states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all of which are holding U.S. Senate races this year.

In North Carolina, a presidential swing state where an incumbent Republican is up for re-election in both the governor and Senate race, the battle will likely be just as intense between the fact-checking teams at Raleigh’s WRAL-TV and its longtime newspaper rival, the News & Observer. But the local competition may be most intense in California, where politicians can expect scrutiny from three different news organizations: the Sacramento Bee, Voice of San Diego and Capital Public Radio in Sacramento.

PolitiFactication

The biggest player in the growth of state and local fact-checking is PolitiFact. After relying on newspapers for its initial partnerships, PolitiFact now has arrangements with local news sites, public radio and the E.W. Scripps TV chain.

Sacramento’s public radio station and the Raleigh-Durham newspaper are two of 18 local media partners that do state-level reporting under the PolitiFact banner. That’s more than half of the 33 U.S. state and local fact-checking initiatives.

In the past year, PolitiFact added 10 state affiliates to its roster, reviving its presence in Ohio and building new sites with partners in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.

PolitiFact’s push at the state level also helped drive the growing role of local TV news in the fact-checking business. Four of the nine new sites in its network are part of the partnership with the the Scripps stations, which the companies announced last October.

New local digital partners include BillyPenn in Pennsylvania and Reboot Illinois.

(Full disclosure: I used to work for the site’s parent company, which previously owned Congressional Quarterly and Governing magazine. Also, PolitiFact was founded by Bill Adair, a Duke media professor who still works for the site as a contributing editor and also oversees my work as co-director of the Reporters’ Lab. But PolitiFact’s effect on the numbers is impossible to ignore.)

Durability

A lot of fact-checkers are in it for the long haul — which is a good thing since politicians keep talking even after the voters have had their say.

Yes, if past election cycles are any indication, some local fact-checking initiatives will inevitably fold after Election Day, as will many of their counterparts in national media (the Reporters’ Lab database also includes a 12 inactive local fact-checkers in 11 states).

But nearly a third of the state and local fact-checkers in our database opened for business before the last presidential election in 2012.

One of the oldest, WISC-TV (News 3) in Madison, Wisconsin, has been at it for 12 years — longer than all but two of the national fact-checkers.

Implications

The growing role of TV newsrooms in the fact-checking movement is significant since political advertising is such a critical revenue source for local broadcasters. That means some owners are investing heavily in fact-checking projects that scrutinize one of their biggest revenue sources.

And since many politicians at the national level get their start running for office in down-ballot races, the growth of fact-checking at the state and local level could have long-term effects on political discourse. Perhaps local fact-checking will produce a generation of careful politicians who are already used to having to reporters examine every word they say long before they decide to seek national office. Or perhaps it will create a breeding ground for the kind of politicians who are most immune to intense media scrutiny.

Either way, fact-checking still seems to be a growing market.

Perhaps that’s why we should note that our tallies above do not count the work of U.S. fact-checkers at all levels, nationally and locally, who occasionally do fact-checking reports without establishing the kind of sustained, systematic effort the Reporters’ Lab database aims to track. But recent political history suggests at least a few more nascent and dormant fact-checkers across the country will spin up their efforts in the weeks ahead. When they do, we’ll be counting them — just as a growing number of voter will be counting on them.

Student researcher Hank Tucker contributed to this report. Here’s more information on how the Reporters’ Lab identifies the fact-checkers included in our global database and here’s a form you can use to tell us about a fact-checker we’ve overlooked.

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How We Identify Fact-Checkers

The Duke Reporters' Lab looks at many attributes to determine which organizations to add to its database of fact-checking projects around the world.

By Bill Adair & Mark Stencel – June 22, 2016 | Print this article

The database of global fact-checking sites is a project of the Reporters’ Lab at Duke University. The database is managed by Mark Stencel, a visiting professor of journalism at Duke who also serves as co-director of the Lab, and Bill Adair, the founder of PolitiFact who serves as the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy and the director of Duke’s journalism program.

The fact-checking database tracks more than 100 non-partisan organizations around the world that regularly publish articles or broadcast segments that assess the accuracy of statements made by public officials, political parties, candidates, journalists, news organizations, associations and other groups.

The Lab considers many attributes in determining which organizations to include, such as whether the site:

  • examines all parties and sides;
  • examines discrete claims and reaches conclusions;
  • tracks political promises;
  • is transparent about sources and methods;
  • discloses funding/affiliations;
  • and whether its primary mission is news and information.

Many fact-checkers in the database are affiliated with news organizations. Others are typically associated with non-governmental groups that conduct non-partisan journalism and focus on issues such as civic engagement, government transparency and public accountability.

The database is regularly updated and includes both active and inactive projects. We also try to update the status of organizations that do periodic fact-checking during key news events, such as an election or a legislative session. (The profiles of each project indicate whether it is inactive or inactive.)

If you have additions, edits or questions, please contact Mark Stencel by email.

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Global fact-checking up 50% in past year

Reporters' Lab tally for 2016 finds nearly 100 sites and organizations keeping tabs on politicians

By Mark Stencel – February 16, 2016 | Print this article

The high volume of political truth-twisting is driving demand for political fact-checkers around the world, with the number of fact-checking sites up 50 percent since last year.

The Duke Reporters’ Lab annual census of international fact-checking currently counts 96 active projects in 37 countries. That’s up from 64 active fact-checkers in the 2015 count. (Map and List)

Active Fact-checkers 2016A bumper crop of new fact-checkers across the Western Hemisphere helped increase the ranks of journalists and government watchdogs who verify the accuracy of public statements and track political promises. The new sites include 14 in the United States, two in Canada as well as seven additional fact-checkers in Latin America.There also were new projects in 10 other countries, from North Africa to Central Europe to East Asia.

With this dramatic growth, politicians in at least nine countries will have their statements scrutinized before their voters go to the polls for national elections this year. (In 2015, fact-checkers were on the beat for national elections in 11 countries.)

Active fact-checkers by continent in our latest tally:
Africa: 5
Asia: 7
Australia: 2
Europe: 27
North America: 47
South America: 8

More than a third of the currently active fact-checkers (33 of 96) launched in 2015 or even in the first weeks of 2016.

The Reporters’ Lab also keeps tabs on inactive fact-checking ventures, which currently number 47. Some of them assure us they are in suspended animation between election cycles — a regular pattern that keeps the fact-checking tally in continuous flux. At least a few inactive fact-checkers in the United States have been “seasonal” projects in past elections. The Reporters’ Lab regularly updates the database, so the tallies reported here are all as of Feb. 15, 2016.

Growing Competition

U.S. fact-checkers dominate the Reporters’ Lab list, with 41 active projects. Of these, three-quarters (30 of 41) are focused on the statements of candidates and government officials working at the state and local level. And 15 of those are among the local media organizations that have joined an expanding network of state affiliates of PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning venture started nine years ago by the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Florida.

(Editor’s Note: PolitiFact founder Bill Adair is a Duke professor who oversees the Reporters’ Lab work. The Lab is part of the the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.)

In the past year, PolitiFact’s newspaper and local broadcast partners have launched new regional sites in six states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Nevada) and reactivated a dormant one in a seventh state (Ohio).

In some cases, those new fact-checkers are entering competitive markets. So far this election year, at least seven U.S. states have more than one regional fact-checker and in California there are three.

With the presidential campaign underway, competition also is increasing at the national level, where longstanding fact-checkers such as FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and the Washington Post Fact Checker now regularly square off with at least eight teams of journalists who are systematically scrutinizing the the candidates’ words. And with more and more newsrooms joining in, especially on debate nights, we will be adding to that list before the pixels dry on this blog post.

Competition is on the rise around the world, too. In 10 other countries, voters have more than one active fact-checker to consult.

The tally by country:
U.S.: 41
France: 5
U.K.: 4
Brazil: 3
Canada: 3
South Korea: 3
Spain: 3
Argentina: 2
Australia: 2
Tunisia: 2*
Ukraine: 2

* One organization in Tunisia maintains two sites that track political promises (a third site operated by the same group is inactive).

The growing numbers have even spawned a new global association, the International Fact-Checking Network hosted by the Poynter Institute, a media training center in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Promises, Promises

Some of the growth has come in the form of promise-tracking. Since January 2015, fact-checkers launched six sites in five countries devoted to tracking the status of pledges candidates and party leaders made in political campaigns. In Tunisia, there are two new sites dedicated to promise-tracking — one devoted to the country’s president and the other to its prime minister.

There are another 20 active fact-checkers elsewhere that track promises, either as their primary mission or as part of a broader portfolio of political verification. Added together, more than a quarter of the active fact-checkers (26 of 96, including nine in the United States) do some form of promise-tracking.

The Media Is the Mainstream — Especially in the U.S.

Nearly two-thirds of the active fact-checkers (61 of 96, or 64 percent) are directly affiliated with a new organization. However this breakdown reflects the dominant business structure in the United States, where 90 percent of fact-checkers are part of a news organization. That includes nine of 11 national projects and 28 of 30 state/local fact-checkers

Media Affiliations of 41 Active U.S. Fact-Checkers
Newspaper: 18
TV: 10
TV + Newspaper: 1
Radio: 3
Digital: 3
Student Newspaper: 1
Not Affiliated: 4

The story is different outside the United States, where less than half of the active fact-checking projects (24 of 55, or 44 percent) are affiliated with news organizations.

The other fact-checkers are typically associated with non-governmental, non-profit and activist groups focused on civic engagement, government transparency and accountability. A handful are partisan, especially in conflict zones and in countries where the lines between independent media, activists and opposition parties are often blurry and where those groups are aligned against state-controlled media or other governmental and partisan entities.

Many of the fact-checkers that are not affiliated with news organizations have journalists on their staff or partner with professional news outlets to distribute their content.

All About Ratings

More than three out of four active U.S. fact-checkers (33 of 41, or 81 percent) use rating systems, including scales that range from true to false or rating devices, such as the Washington Post’s “Pinocchios.” That pattern is consistent globally, where 76 of 96, or 79 percent, use ratings.

This report is based on research compiled in part by Reporters’ Lab student researchers Jillian Apel, Julia Donheiser and Shaker Samman. Alexios Mantzarlis of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (and a former managing editor of the Italian fact-checking Pagella Politica) also contributed to this report, as did  Reporters’ Lab director Bill Adair, Knight Professor for the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University (and founder of PolitiFact).

Please send updates and additions to Reporters’ Lab co-director Mark Stencel (mark.stencel@duke.edu).

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Six new fact-checkers join global journalism movement

Updated Reporters' Lab database now counts 75 projects actively verifying what politicians say and promise.

By Shaker Samman – October 19, 2015 | Print this article

A half-dozen fact-checkers in five countries are adding their work to the growing list of news organizations and websites that actively verify what politicians tell their constituents around the globe.

With these and other updates to our international database, the tally from the Duke Reporters’ Lab now has 75 active fact-checking services. That includes seven other established fact-checkers that weren’t previously listed in the database, several of which have powered back up to cover the 2016 presidential race in the United States. We’ve also updated our tally of inactive sites. (Map and List)

The newcomers include:

Aos Fatos, Brazil: Aos Fatos aims to raise the level of political discourse in Brazil. A profile of the site says the site’s creators got their inspiration from PolitiFact in the United States and Chequeado in Argentina. The website launched in July 2015.

Capdema’s L’Arbitre, Morocco: Based in the capital city of Rabat, Capdema is short for “Cap Democracy Morocco,” a network of young Moroccan activists. The weekly magazine Tel Quel has worked with the group on some initial fact-checking efforts as the publication and youth group collaborate to build out L’Arbitre (“The Referee”).

NPR, United States: Four years ago, NPR listeners responding to an audience survey told the Washington, D.C.-based public radio network that fact-checking topped their list as the most important kind of political reporting. For the 2016 campaign, NPR has concentrated its fact-checking efforts into a recurring feature called “Break It Down.”

Polétika, Spain: Founded in 2015, Polétika was created by a coalition of activist groups. Its site is built around a database of political promises, with fact-checkers monitoring and evaluating claims made by politicians and political parties in the run-up to Spain’s general election this December.

PolitiFact Missouri, United States: The newest member of the PolitiFact family is a partnership between the U.S. fact-checking site operated by the Tampa Bay Times in Florida and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. The site fact-checks claims made by local, state and national officials.

South Asia Check, Nepal: Based in Kathmandu, South Asia Check was founded in 2015 by Panos South Asia, a non-governmental organization focused on regional media development. In addition to fact-checking politicians and other government officials, the site monitors promises related to recovery efforts since the region’s April 2015 earthquake. The fact-checkers concentrate mainly on Nepal, but occasionally review statements made elsewhere in the region.

In addition to these six new fact-checkers, we added several others that were not previously listed in the database, including:

Viralgranskaren, Sweden: Based in Stockholm and founded in 2014, this myth-busting website is a branch of Metro, Sweden’s free daily newspaper. It checks into viral online statements, such as Facebook pricing myths or claims about the Earth’s appearance without water.

Media Fact Checking Service, Macedonia:  This project began in 2013 with a 30-month mission to fact-check Macedonian media reports. The fact-checking portion of the website is presented by the Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society, and is available in English, Macedonian and Albanian.

The other established fact-checkers we’ve added are the AP, the New York Times and Politico, along with two local news offerings: TV reporter Pat Kessler’s regular Reality Checks on CBS Minnesota and Seattle talk radio host Jason Rantz’s #FactCheck segments for KIRO-FM and MYNorthwest.com. (We selfishly wish all fact-checkers provided a handy, one-stop link for their work the way CBS Minnesota does, but the others are just a short search away — for the most part.)

The Reporters’ Lab database also lists 43 inactive fact-checking operations, though that number will likely shift over the coming months, especially as state and local news outlets across the United States reboot their efforts for the upcoming election year.

In this round of updates, Brussels-based FactcheckEU and Minnesota Public Radio’s Polygraph move to inactive status. The inactive count also includes three other U.S. newsrooms and media partnerships that focused on fact-checking during the 2014 U.S. elections: the Quad City Times/WQAD-TV Political Ad Fact Check, in Davenport, Iowa; Truth Test from 5 Eyewitness News in St. Paul, Minn.; and another Truth Test that paired the CBS46 news team in Atlanta with student fact-checkers from Kennesaw State University.

Please share any updates or additions for the Reporters’ Lab database with Mark Stencel or Shaker Samman.

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Former NPR editor to join Reporters’ Lab, teach journalism at Duke

Mark Stencel will oversee student projects and teach a course in watchdog journalism in the 2016 campaign.

By Bill Adair – September 3, 2015 | Print this article

I am thrilled to announce that Mark Stencel, a leader in digital journalism and a veteran editor from NPR and the Washington Post, is joining the Duke Reporters’ Lab as Co-Director and will teach in the Sanford School of Public Policy as a Visiting Lecturer.

As Co-Director of the Lab, Mark will direct research projects on fact-checking and political journalism. He’ll oversee the Lab’s database of global fact-checking websites and help us design teaching modules on fact-checking.

Fact-checking will be part of a new class Mark will teach next spring tentatively called Watchdog Journalism and the 2016 Election that will include practical skills and philosophy behind accountability reporting in national and local campaigns.

Mark is a rare talent in American journalism because he has experience on the business and editorial sides of publishing. He held senior editing and management positions at the Post, Governing magazine and Congressional Quarterly. He has often been years ahead of others in journalism in exploring new story forms and alternative sources of revenue.

Mark Stencel
Mark Stencel

At NPR, he was the managing editor for digital news, leading a team of more than 60 journalists and overseeing the network’s reporting for an online audience that more than doubled in four years to over 20 million readers and listeners. At the Post, he was an editor on the company’s first website and later directed groundbreaking digital coverage of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and the 2000 election.

He didn’t need a campus tour. Before he shifted to digital media in the mid-1990s, Mark was a science and technology reporter for the News & Observer, covering Research Triangle Park from the paper’s bureau in Durham. Three months into the job, he was drafted into reporting on campus reaction to Duke’s somewhat unexpected return to the Final Four in 1994.

Mark and I co-authored last year’s Reporters’ Lab report The Goat Must Be Fed, which explored the reasons for the slow adoption of digital tools in American newsrooms.

He was a political fact-checker before fact-checking was cool, having created a debate fact-checking feature for the Post in 1996. This year, he authored an American Press Institute report on the impact of fact-checking, which he excerpted in a Politico article titled “The Weaponization of Fact-Checking.” He began his career as an assistant to a legendary journalist who sparked the modern fact-checking movement, Washington Post political columnist David S. Broder.

Mark was the co-author of two books on media and politics, On the Line: The New Road to the White House (written with CNN’s Larry King) and Peepshow: Media and Politics in an Age of Scandal (written with scholars Larry J. Sabato and S. Robert Lichter). He is the board chair for the Student Press Law Center and an advisory board member for Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism in Macon, Ga.

He graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Soviet studies. But that was the year before the Soviet Union ceased to exist, so he often says his credentials as a media ‘futurist’ should be regarded with skepticism.

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At the Global Fact-Checking Summit, a call to look ahead

At the second international conference, the director of the Reporters' Lab says fact-checkers need to focus on funding and technology.

By Bill Adair – July 23, 2015 | Print this article

My opening remarks at the Global Fact-Checking Summit at City University London, July 23, 2015:

This is an exciting time for fact-checking around the world.

A year ago, we had 44 active fact-checking groups. Today we have 64. We’ve got new sites in countries where there hasn’t been any fact-checking before — South Korea and Turkey and Uruguay. And we’ve got many fact-checking sites in Latin America thanks in part to the energetic work of Laura Zommer and her talented colleagues at Chequeado.

And joining us today are journalists from brand-new fact-checking sites just getting started in Nepal, Canada, Northern Ireland and Russia.

Wow. Think about what is happening here: politicians in Nepal and Canada and Mexico and Northern Ireland and Russia are now going to be held accountable in ways that they never have before.

Fact-checking has become a powerful and important new form of accountability journalism around the world. We should be very proud of what we’ve accomplished.

There are some great stories about our impact.

In South Africa, Africa Check has become such an important part of the news ecosystem that when someone from the main opposition party gives a speech, the party routinely issues a standard form – they call it the “Africa Check Response Form” – to list sources that back up claims the politician is making during the speech.

In Italy, a politician posted on his Facebook page that several thousand policemen had tested positive for tuberculosis because they had come into contact with immigrants crossing the Mediterranean illegally. The rumor fueled fears in Italy that the disease was about to become an epidemic. Pagella Politica fact-checked the claim and found it was ridiculously false. When confronted with the fact-check on a radio interview, the politician had the good sense to apologize for spreading a false rumor.

In the United States, fact-checkers are already uncovering falsehoods of the 2016 presidential candidates at a remarkable pace — and the election is more than a year away.

From governors to U.S. senators, American politicians are frequently citing the U.S. fact-checkers — and are clearly changing their behavior because they know they are being checked. Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, three of the Republican presidential candidates, have all said they are more careful what they say because they know they are being fact-checked — and this is the term they used — “PolitiFacted.”

This is a wonderful moment for our movement. In hundreds of ways big and small, fact-checking has changed the world.

But rather than spend a lot of time celebrating the progress we’ve made, this week I think we should focus on the future and discuss some of our common problems and challenges.

We need to talk candidly about our readership. Although our audience is growing, it is still way too small. I expect that in most countries, fact-checks reach only a tiny percentage of voters.

We can’t be complacent and wait for people to come to our sites. We must expand our audiences through creative marketing and partnerships with larger media organizations. We must get our fact-checking in the old media — on TV and radio and in newspapers — even as we experiment with new media.

We also have to find new ways to make our content engaging. As we all know from looking at our metrics, there is a limited audience that wants to read lengthy policy articles. We need to find ways to make our content lively while still maintaining depth and substance.

We also need to focus on the quality of our journalism. Tomorrow morning Lucas Graves will be unveiling the first content analysis of fact-checking around the world. I’m hopeful it will lead to a thorough discussion of our best practices and, later this year, to a more extensive analysis of more sites in more countries.

We’ve devoted the longest session at the conference to the most significant challenge fact-checkers are facing — how to pay for our journalism. If you’ve looked at the database of fact-checkers I keep on the website of the Duke Reporters’ Lab, you’ve probably noticed that sites are marked “Active” or “Inactive.”

We do that because sites come and go, particularly after elections. In some cases, that’s because news organizations mistakenly believe that fact-checking is only needed during a campaign (Do news executives really think politicians stop lying on election day?). In most cases, sites go inactive because the funding dried up.

So at the conference this week, we must explore a wide variety of ways to pay for our important journalism. We can’t depend solely on foundations the way many of us have done. Likewise, those of us who have been fortunate enough to have been supported by legacy media organizations like newspapers and television networks would also be wise to find additional sources of revenue.

We need to think broadly and be creative. We can find long-term success the same way investors do: by diversifying. If we seek different types of revenue from more sources, we’ll be less vulnerable when one goes away.

As we look to the future, we also need to embrace technology and the power of computing. We’ve had a fascinating discussion about computing on our listserv a couple of weeks ago. But in that discussion and some others, I’ve heard a few hints that fact-checkers still have a skepticism about technology — the belief that computers won’t be able to do the work of human journalists. As one commenter put it, computers aren’t capable of assessing the complexity of politics and propaganda

I rate that statement Half True. While it’s true that computers can’t write fact-checks for us – yet – we have found ways they can help with our analysis, particularly with mundane and repetitive tasks.

As you’ll see in a session tomorrow, research projects at Duke, the University of Texas at Arlington and other places are showing great promise in using computational power to help journalists do fact-checking. Actually, computers CAN assess rhetoric and propaganda.

Although we are still years away from completely automated fact-checking — letting the robots do fact-checking for us — we have made tremendous progress in just the past year.

I think we’re just three to five years away from the point when automation can do many of the tasks of human fact-checkers — helping us find factual claims, helping us assess whether claims are accurate and providing automated ways to broadcast our fact-checks to much larger audiences.

We should not be afraid of technological progress. It will help us be better journalists and it will help us spread our messages to more people.

I’m glad you’re here. We’ve got some lively discussions ahead. Whether we’re talking about our challenges with funding, the importance of lively content or the promise of new technology, our goal is the same: To hold people in power accountable for their words.

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Snapshot of fact-checking around the world, July 2015

Fact-checking continues to grow, with 20 new sites since last summer

By Bill Adair – July 19, 2015 | Print this article

Fact-checking continues to grow around the world.

As we convene the second annual Global Summit of Fact-Checking in London this week, there are now 64 active sites, up from 44 a year ago.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest numbers from the Duke Reporters’ Lab database. Last year’s numbers are in parentheses.

  • Active fact-checking sites: 64 (44)
  • Total sites that have been active in past few years*: 102 (59)
  • Sites that are affiliated with news organizations: 63 percent
  • Percentage of sites that use rating systems such as meters or labels: 80 (70)
  • Number of active sites that track politicians’ campaign promises: 21 of 64

*Some sites have been active only for elections or have been suspended because of lack of funding. We still include the dormant sites in our database because they often resume operation.

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Fact-Checking Census finds continued growth around the world

Our latest tally of fact-checking sites finds 30 new sites in places such as Turkey, Uruguay and South Korea.

By Bill Adair & Ishan Thakore – January 19, 2015 | Print this article

Fact-checking keeps growing around the world, with new sites in countries such as Turkey, Uruguay and South Korea.

The 2015 Fact-Checking Census from the Duke Reporters’ Lab found 89 that have been active in the past few years and 64 that are active today. That’s up from 59 total/44 active when we did our last count in May 2014. (We include inactive sites in our total count because sites come and go with election cycles. Some news organizations and journalism NGOs only fact-check during election years.)

Many of the additional sites have started in the last seven months, including UYCheck in Uruguay and Dogruluk Payi in Turkey. Others are sites that we didn’t find when we did our first count.

You can see the complete list on the fact-checking page of the Reporters’ Lab website, where you can browse by continent and country.

As with our last tally, the largest concentrations of fact-checking are in Europe and North America. We found 38 sites in Europe (including 27 active), 30 in North America (22 active) and seven in South America (five active). There are two new sites in South Korea.

The Truth or False Poll in South Korea enlists readers to help with fact-checking.
The Truth or False Poll in South Korea enlists readers to help with fact-checking.

The percentage of sites that use ratings continues to grow, up from about 70 percent in last year’s count to 80 percent today. Many rating systems use a true to false scale while others have devised more creative names. For example, ratings for the European site FactCheckEU include “Rather Daft” and “Insane Whopper.” Canada’s Baloney Meter rates statements from “No Baloney” to “Full of Baloney.”

We found that 56 of the 89 sites are affiliated with news organizations such as newspapers and television networks. The other 33 are sites that are dedicated to fact-checking such as FactCheck.org in the United States and Full Fact in Great Britain.

Almost one-third of the sites (29 of the 89) track the campaign promises of elected officials. Some, such as the Rouhani Meter for Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, only track campaign promises. Others, such as PolitiFact in the United States, do promise-tracking in addition to fact-checking.

For more information about the Reporters’ Lab database, contact Bill Adair at  bill.adair@duke.edu

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