“PolitiFact”

Fact-checking comes to the Amazon Echo

New skill from the Duke Reporters’ Lab allows users to 'ask the fact-checkers'

By Erica Ryan – October 21, 2016 | Print this article

The Duke Reporters’ Lab has created a new fact-checking app for the Amazon Echo.

The app is a spin-off of Share the Facts, a project that has expanded the reach of fact-checking. The launch partners are PolitiFact, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker and FactCheck.org.

With the new Share the Facts skill, owners of the Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices, including the Tap and the Dot, can “ask the fact-checkers” about claims they hear from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as other candidates and politicians who have been checked.

Share the Facts is now available in the Skills section of the Alexa app. (To find it, open the Alexa app on your smartphone, click on the left navigation panel, and then select “Skills.” From there, you can search for “Share the Facts” and select “Enable Skill.”)

We encourage you to try checking candidates’ claims from your couch after watching a campaign ad or during a discussion around the dinner table.

To begin a query, say: “Alexa, ask the fact-checkers.” (If you’re using the Tap, you’ll need to press the microphone button first and then say, “Ask the fact-checkers.”)

We have found it often works best if you wait for Alexa to reply, “Welcome to Share the Facts. We consolidate fact-checks from some of the most respected journalists in the U.S. Ask me to check a fact you’re wondering about” — and then ask your question, such as:

  • “Did Donald Trump oppose the war in Iraq?”
  • “Was Hillary Clinton right that her email practices were allowed?”
  • “Is it true that 300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance because of Obamacare?”

Try to use the most important keywords in your question, following the examples above.

Share the Facts uses natural speech recognition to analyze and answer your questions from our database of roughly 2,000 professionally curated fact-checks. We scale our results so that they are timely and have the most consensus among our partners.

We welcome your feedback on our new Echo skill Share the Facts. Please send your thoughts to Share the Facts project manager Erica Ryan.

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Lessons from our first experiment with pop-up fact-checking

More than 380 people tried our pop-up fact-checking during the presidential debate.

By Bill Adair – October 20, 2016 | Print this article

Several hundred people who watched the presidential debate last night got a preview of what fact-checking will look like in the future.

More than 380 beta testers of our Reporters’ Lab browser extension saw fact-checks pop onto their screens in near-real time. The pop-ups were actually tweets from PolitiFact that said when statements from Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump were true, false or somewhere in between.

The pop-ups provided instant fact-checks from PolitiFact's Twitter feed.
The pop-ups provided instant fact-checks from PolitiFact’s Twitter feed.

The “FactPopUp” tool, built by Reporters’ Lab student Gautam Hathi, used the notification feature in the Chrome browser to display the PolitiFact tweets. The pop-ups appeared over a livestream of the debate. They were generated by Aaron Sharockman, a PolitiFact editor who was tweeting links to items that had been previously published.

Viewers saw 29 pop-ups with messages such as “Trump said Clinton would double taxes for Americans. False.”

We had modest expectations. We knew that the success of the test depended on Sharockman’s speed finding previous fact-checks and the time delay for the NBC News livestream we were using. It turned out that Sharockman was quite fast and the NBC livestream was slightly delayed, which made the pop-ups appear very quickly for most users.

I was so pleased at one point that I tweeted:

Still, there are many lessons and plenty of things we can improve:

Ease of installation. We tried to make it as easy as possible, but we were relying on Chrome’s notifications and Twitter for the pop-ups, so the sign up and installation was more complicated than we wanted. Users needed a Twitter account to activate the browser extension. Next time, we probably should build it as a standalone tool that doesn’t rely on Chrome or Twitter.

Type size. This was another challenge because of our reliance on Chrome notifications. We’d like to increase the size of the type (we had to rely on the standard font size) and the length of the messages (we were limited to about 80 characters). Building it as a standalone tool would allow us to make the type larger and the fact-checks slightly longer.

Location of the pop-ups. We discovered a difference in the location of the pop-ups for Mac and PC users. On the Mac version, they appeared in the upper right, which sometimes blocked Hillary Clinton’s face when NBC was showing a split screen. On the PC version of Chrome, they appeared in the lower right, which seemed less obtrusive.

Dwell time. We had tinkered with how long the pop-ups stayed on the screen. They need to stay long enough that people can read and digest them, but not too long. When the pop-up is in the lower right, you could have a a slightly longer dwell time because it doesn’t block anyone’s face.

Other functions. It’s worth exploring other functions such as the ability to save a fact-check to read later or immediately share it with others. Two of our testers suggested synchronizing the pop-ups with a video recording so users could go back to them later or see where they occurred in the debate.

Overall, we’re quite pleased with our pioneering effort at pop-up fact-checking. It shows great promise not just for future debates but also for live events such as major speeches. We’ll be making it available in GitHub for others to try and build on.

We’d love to hear your feedback. You can write to me at bill.adair@duke.edu.

 

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Reporters’ Lab to experiment with pop-up fact-checking during debate

The beta test of the Chrome extension will allow viewers to see real-time fact-checking with a livestream of the debate.

By Bill Adair – October 17, 2016 | Print this article

On Wednesday, the Duke Reporters’ Lab will test a new tool that will provide on-screen fact-checking during the third presidential debate.

The tool, a free extension for Chrome browsers, will provide real-time fact-checking from PolitiFact. Users will see a livestream of the debate with occasional messages that will pop onto the screen showing PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rating for statements by the candidates.

We welcome your feedback. To try the tool, you must have the Chrome browser and download the extension. Follow the directions to get a personal identification number to activate it.

The “FactPopUp” tool was built by Gautam Hathi, a Duke computer science student who works in the Reporters’ Lab. The pop-ups will be generated by a PolitiFact editor watching the debate. When the editor hears one of the candidates make a claim that PolitiFact has checked before, the editor will quickly publish a tweet with a summary and the Truth-O-Meter rating. The summary and the rating then pop up on the livestream.

Viewers who take part in the beta test of our new browser extension will see fact-checks appear on a livestream of the debate.
Viewers who try our new browser extension will see fact-checks appear over a livestream of the debate.

Our private tests in the first two debates have been encouraging. The fact-checks pop up relatively quickly after the candidate makes the claim. It is reminiscent of the VH1 show Pop Up Video, which provided sometimes irreverent annotation to rock videos in the 1990s.

Our Chrome tool has some limitations. You need to have your own Twitter account so you can receive the fact-checks from PolitiFact’s tweets. And the browser extension can only provide pop-ups for statements that PolitiFact has previously researched and rated. And its quickness depends on the editor’s knowledge of PolitiFact’s 500-plus fact-checks on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The extension is being released as a beta for public testing, not as a final product. Hathi is optimistic that the extension will work well, but cautions that in some tests there have been delays in showing the pop-up.

Still, we’re hopeful that this will be a small first step toward the “Holy Grail” of fully automated fact-checking. Once we work out the bugs, we will make the browser extension available as an open source tool that can be used by others. Please send us feedback at factpopup@gmail.com.

The Reporters’ Lab, which is part of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, is exploring a variety of ways to automate fact-checking and expand the audience for this growing form of journalism. Earlier this year we unveiled the Share the Facts, a widget that provides a new way for readers to share fact-check articles and spread them virally across the Internet..

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Fact-checking Twitter feeds offer new way to follow 2016 campaigns

New Reporters’ Lab feeds track false claims, all checks of Clinton and Trump

By Erica Ryan – August 25, 2016 | Print this article

The Duke Reporters’ Lab has created three new Twitter feeds to help voters keep up with fact-checking during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Twitter feeds feature fact-checks from three partner sites: PolitiFact, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker and FactCheck.org. All three are part of the Share the Facts project, an effort to expand the reach of fact-checkers using a shareable widget that summarizes their conclusions.

The feeds allow you to follow fact-checks of both major party presidential candidates, as well as falsehoods from across the political spectrum:

Share the Falsehoods (@sharefalse): This feed automatically tweets a Share the Facts widget any time a claim is determined to be:

Share Trump Facts (@share_trump): This feed includes all fact-checks of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Share Clinton Facts (@share_clinton): Like the Trump feed, this account will update with all fact-checks of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

These three new Twitter feeds join the main Share the Facts Twitter account (@sharethefact) and the project’s Facebook page in offering easy ways to find and share fact-checking.

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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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5 share-worthy fact-checks of Clinton’s acceptance speech

Use our widget to share the facts behind the nominee’s talking points

By Erica Ryan – July 29, 2016 | Print this article

As Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential candidate to accept the nomination of a major political party on Thursday night, fact-checkers dug into the talking points and attack lines that peppered her speech.

PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org were among those sorting the truth from the fiction. Here’s a roundup of five of their fact-checks that you can share on Facebook and Twitter using the Share the Facts widget, created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google. You can also embed them in articles and blog posts.

1. “Don’t believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it.’ Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland.”

Clinton used this line to contrast her style with that of her opponent, Republican Donald Trump. But FactCheck.org found it’s not so cut-and-dried: “In fact, Trump said that as a political outsider only he can fix a ‘rigged’ system. He has spoken about working with others many times, including in that same speech.”

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2. Trump ties are made “in China, not Colorado. Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan. Trump furniture in Turkey, not Ohio. Trump picture frames in India, not Wisconsin.”

PolitiFact was able to verify all of the examples Clinton cited – except for the picture frames made in India. It also found some Trump-branded products made in the U.S., such as his signature “Make America Great Again” hats.

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3. “More than 90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that’s where the money is.”

These numbers are based on older data, according to The Washington Post.

“There is increasing evidence that income imbalance has improved in recent years as the economy has recovered from the Great Recession,” it reports. The most recent calculations show the top 1 percent got 52 percent of the income gains between 2009 and 2015.

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4. “Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs” have been created since President Obama took office.

FactCheck.org found this number to be inflated: “In fact, since January 2009, when Obama took office, the private sector has added 10.5 million jobs.”

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5. Trump “claimed our armed forces are ‘a disaster.’”

PolitiFact tracked down this quote from the Republican candidate during a January debate: “I’m very angry because our country is being run horribly and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger,” Trump said. “Our military is a disaster.”

He doesn’t seem to have repeated this wording, PolitiFact found, and in more recent comments has focused more on what he sees as a lack of resources, calling the military “depleted.”

Share the Facts Widget Embed

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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6 Clinton claims you’re likely to hear in Philly

Use our Share the Facts widget to highlight fact-checking during the Democratic convention

By Erica Ryan – July 25, 2016 | Print this article

The Republicans kept fact-checkers on their toes during their convention in Cleveland. Next, it’s the Democrats’ turn as they gather in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton.

Below is a preview of some talking points you may hear during the Democratic convention and how the fact-checkers at PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and The Washington Post have rated their accuracy.

You can share these fact-checks – and many more – using the Share the Facts widget created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

We encourage you to post the widgets on Facebook and Twitter, or even embed them in articles and blog posts.

On Trump’s finances

On the first night of the convention, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is slated to speak. She has previously painted GOP nominee Donald Trump as a “small, insecure money-grubber,” and she’s likely to repeat previous attacks on his finances.

One claim we might hear is that Trump was “hoping for” a crash in the housing market back in 2006 so he could profit – which PolitiFact rated Mostly True.

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Another claim Democrats have repeated – that past federal tax returns show Trump “hasn’t paid a penny in taxes” – didn’t hold up as well to PolitiFact’s checking. While Trump has declined to release recent tax returns, records show that he did pay income taxes in some years during the 1970s.

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On children and families

The second night of the convention is scheduled to focus on how “Hillary has spent her entire career working to make a difference for children, families and our country,” according to the convention website. One campaign-trail claim Clinton has made on that theme is that she worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

While The Washington Post verified that Clinton played a role in the effort during her time as first lady, it was mostly behind the scenes at the White House and not as “a public advocate who directly worked with lawmakers in both parties.”

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On the economy

President Obama is set to speak on the convention’s third night, which will have a theme of “Working Together” – something the president and his one-time rival have had to do many times since 2008.

One argument Clinton has made for extending her party’s control of the White House is that the economy has fared better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones. While an analysis by two Princeton economists bears that out, FactCheck.org ruled that Clinton is putting a spin on the facts because “the authors of that report do not credit Democratic fiscal policies for the economic growth.”

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Another economic claim Clinton has made is about her Republican opponent’s opposition to the federal minimum wage. While Trump has suggested he’d like to see workers earn more than $7.25 an hour, PolitiFact reports, he has said he would prefer to leave that up to the states, without any federally mandated minimum.

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On foreign policy

Clinton will take the convention stage on Thursday night. As the former secretary of state, Clinton has compared her own foreign policy chops to Trump’s, which she considers lacking.

However, FactCheck.org found she goes too far when she claims that Trump said he boosted his foreign policy experience by running a Miss Universe pagent in Moscow. What he really said was he knew Russia well because of it.

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Bonus: What you won’t hear in Philly

We imagine no Democrat in Philadelphia will even say the word “email” if they can avoid it. But if you want to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the scandal that engulfed Clinton after leaving her post as secretary of state, multiple fact-checkers have broken it down.

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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Fact-checking Trump’s speech with the Share the Facts widget

A tool from the Reporters’ Lab can help counter politicians’ distortions

By Erica Ryan – July 22, 2016 | Print this article

Republican nominee Donald Trump’s 75-minute acceptance speech on the last night of the GOP convention sent fact-checkers into overdrive.

PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org all produced roundups of their research into dozens of Trump’s claims. Here’s a look at four of those claims and the resulting fact-checks, which you can share using the Share the Facts widget.

The widget was created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google. We encourage you to use the widget to share fact-checks on Facebook and Twitter, or even embed them in articles and blog posts.

1. “Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000.”

Here’s how the three fact-checking organizations currently using the Share the Facts widget weighed in on this Trump claim. Click “Read More” on each widget to see the facts behind their conclusions.

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2. “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”

According to the fact-checkers, this claim from Trump had serious problems.

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3. A “550 percentage increase in Syrian … refugees … [Democrat Hillary Clinton] proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from.”

While Clinton has proposed allowing as many as 65,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S., fact-checkers find Trump’s claim that “there’s no way to screen” is not true.

Share the Facts Widget Embed
Share the Facts Widget Embed
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4. “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.”

While the fact-checkers note that Trump has a credible source for his numbers (The Post, in fact), they find he’s guilty of cherry-picking data to give the impression of a scary trend.

Share the Facts Widget Embed
Share the Facts Widget Embed
Share the Facts Widget Embed

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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Six Trump claims you’re likely to hear in Cleveland

The GOP convention provides an opportunity to use our Share the Facts widget

By Erica Ryan – July 15, 2016 | Print this article

Politicians love talking points. The scripted lines provide consistency for campaign messages and quotes that are often irresistible to journalists. Talking points are used repeatedly, even by a candidate like Donald Trump who is known to stray from his script.

With the Republican National Convention about to start, we thought it would be helpful to show some of the stock lines we expect to hear and how the nation’s fact-checkers have judged their accuracy. It’s also an opportunity for us to showcase the Share the Facts widget, our new tool that summarizes fact-checks.

For the past several months, PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org have been using the widget, which was created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

The three fact-checking outlets have already created more than 1,000 widgets, mostly from the 2016 presidential campaign.

We encourage you to share the facts by posting the widgets on Facebook and Twitter, or even embedding them in articles or blog posts.

On Benghazi

According to The New York Times, the first night of the convention is set to focus on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans during Democrat Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Here’s a look at one Trump claim that FactCheck.org found didn’t hold up to scrutiny.

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On Immigration

Another issue expected to be in the spotlight on Monday night is immigration – an especially hot topic for Trump, who has proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He says the president has the authority to do it, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker found he’s largely correct.

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The Post gave him one Pinocchio because the president does have “broad powers to deny admission of people or groups into the United States. But the power has not been tested in the way that Trump proposes.”

Trump earned four Pinocchios from the Post for a claim tying crime to immigration.

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On the Economy

The second night of the convention is scheduled to have an economic theme, so we expect to hear claims about taxes and trade. FactCheck.org has noted that Trump is fond of repeating that American taxpayers pay more than residents of other countries – which it found isn’t true (though the U.S. business tax rate does rank among the highest in the world).

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Trump also speaks frequently about the U.S. trade deficit with China, and he’s accused Clinton of making it worse. But PolitiFact found he’s assigning the blame in the wrong place, since the secretary of state has a small role in trade policy.

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On His Bid for the Nomination

Keeping with tradition, Trump is expected to speak on the last night of the convention – a speech that is sure to produce many claims for fact-checkers to examine. As he accepts the party’s nomination, he may repeat an assertion about his vote totals in the primary elections that PolitiFact found is mostly true.

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Stay tuned throughout the Republican convention for more opportunities to share the facts.

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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At GlobalFact 3, a call for transparency and impartial fact-checking

Now that fact-checking has matured, "we need to make sure that our work is rock solid."

By Bill Adair – June 9, 2016 | Print this article

My opening remarks at GlobalFact 3, the third annual meeting of the world’s fact-checkers, oragnized by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and the Reporters’ Lab, held June 9-10, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It’s amazing how our group has grown. Our latest tally in the Duke Reporters’ Lab is 105 active sites around the world, which is up more than 60 percent from last year.

We’ve also seen marvelous growth in international collaborations. Alexios has organized some impressive check-a-thons for economic summits and other events, uniting more than a dozen fact-checkers for a single event. And a few months ago, Africa Check joined PolitiFact for an unprecedented partnership to check claims about global health and development.

Our fact-checks are increasingly having an impact. Politicians cite them in speeches and campaign commercials. One organization recently emailed its senior staff reminding them about the new Africa Check-PolitiFact project, cautioning them to be accurate in their statements. In Ireland, attention generated by a Journal.ie fact-check halted a viral social media campaign to “name and shame” Irish parliamentarians for their purportedly low attendance at a debate on mental health services.

More than 100 people attended the conference, which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
More than 100 people attended the conference, which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Here in Argentina, Gabriella Michetti, vice-presidential candidate on the Macri ticket, was asked about a “Falso” she got from Chequeado. She replied, ”I saw that on Chequeado. Which is why we corrected ourselves and never repeated it.”

Our audiences are growing. In the United States, the three big fact-checkers are all reporting record-breaking traffic. A debate article by FactCheck.org got more than 1.8 million page views on the site and partners such as MSN.com.

In the United States, we have a presidential candidate named Donald Trump — perhaps you have heard of him — who has shown why fact-checking is so important. Some pundits have said his disregard for facts shows we live in a “post-fact” era when facts no longer matter. But I think it shows a more positive story: we know about Donald Trump’s falsehoods because of the tremendous work of a growing army of fact-checkers.

We’ve reached a point where fact-checking is no longer a novelty. It’s no longer something that we have to explain to the people we’re checking. It’s now a mature form of journalism — and an expected part of how news organizations cover political campaigns and government.

But now that fact-checking has matured, it’s time to make sure we push our journalism to the next level. To maintain our status as trusted sources, we need to make sure that our work is rock solid. Our fact-checks must be thoroughly researched using the most independent sources available. Our writing needs to be clear and concise.

We need to show that we do not play favorites. We need to be impartial and apply the same standards to everyone we check. And we need to check everyone.  As Rem Rieder wrote in USA Today in a column this week that mentioned our meeting, for fact-checking to work, “it has to be an equal opportunity endeavor, strictly nonpartisan.”

In the past year,  the students and colleagues who maintain our fact-checking database have come across a couple of sites that primarily check one party in their political system. That’s not fact-checking; that’s advocacy. To be a reputable fact-checker, you must check all the players in your political systems.

Fact-checkers also need to be transparent in our work. We need to explain how we choose statements to check and how our ratings work. We need to reveal our sources and be clear how we reached our conclusions.

We also need to be transparent about the funding and structure of our organizations. We need to explain who gives us money and reassure our readers and consumers that we are not political activists.

We also need to continue to expand our audiences. I continue to be surprised by the relatively limited use of fact-checking on television. We should seek more partnerships with TV networks and show them that the fact-checking makes great TV. You will love hearing from our keynote speaker, Natalia Hernández Rojo, who does some of the best TV fact-checks in the world for La Sexta’s El Objetivo in Spain. We can all learn a lot from Natalia.

Finally, I want to conclude with a suggestion. In catching up with many of you in the past couple of days I have realized that I have not done enough to follow your work. So I’m going to set a new goal to read one fact-check every day. I’ll randomly choose a site from our Reporters’ Lab database and read the most recent one.

I encourage you to do the same thing — a fact-check a day. It’s a new way that we can continue to build our community. By reading each other’s work, we can learn about each other and improve our work.

It’s a wonderful time to be in our movement. Fact-checking keeps growing and it has become a powerful force that informs democracies around the world. We need to maintain that momentum and make sure that our work is the best it can be.

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