“Rating systems”

In Buenos Aires, a discussion about the impact of fact-checking

Researchers talked about the impact of graphic ratings and the big challenge: persuading partisans.

By Hank Tucker – June 18, 2016 | Print this article

Donald Trump’s rise to the Republican nomination for president of the United States, seemingly immune to fact-checkers that debunk his false statements, has prompted a simple question about American politics: Do facts matter?

Four researchers attempted to answer this question at the Global Fact-Checking Summit in Buenos Aires during a panel discussion moderated by Alexios Mantzarlis, the director of the International Fact-Checking Network. The presenters showed evidence that fact-checking has an impact on both politicians and some voters, but they agreed that many people use fact-checks to support preexisting ideologies.

Jason Reifler, a professor of politics at the University of Exeter who specializes in fact-checking, sent letters to an experimental group of state legislators in states with PolitiFact franchises warning about fact-checking and cautioning them to make accurate claims. Reifler and Dartmouth professor Brendan Nyhan found that politicians who received letters were less likely to make false claims than politicians who did not receive a letter.

This study indicates that fact-checking matters to politicians, but it is still unclear how much it matters to voters. Reifler noted that motivated reasoning and selective exposure often cloud voters’ opinions of fact-checking.

“People will go to media and media sources that are more congenial to what they want to hear,” Reifler said. “When people encounter information, if they have a directional goal, they want to try and be consistent with it. They want to maintain their ideological priors and they want to maintain their political preferences.”

In a separate study focused on voters, Reifler showed that people pay attention to fact-checks but are more likely to read the ones that refute the politicians they oppose. He presented participants with the option to

The panel include Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, moderator Alexios Mantzarlis, Eugenia Mitchelstein of Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina and Leticia Bode of Georgetown University.
The panel include Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, moderator Alexios Mantzarlis, Eugenia Mitchelstein of Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina and Leticia Bode of Georgetown University.

read either two fact-checks by Pagella Politica, one against a politician from either the left or right and an unrelated article, or two articles unrelated to politics and fact-checking.

Forty-three percent of respondents chose to read both fact-checks and 83 percent read at least one, but of the 40 percent that only read one along with an unrelated article, the majority chose the fact-check that criticized a politician they opposed..

Leticia Bode, a Georgetown University professor specializing in misinformation and social media, and Eugenia Mitchelstein, a researcher at the Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina, agreed that confirmation bias plays a major role in how consumers approach falsehoods, but both presenters noted that fact-checking sometimes changes their minds.

Bode’s research tested responses to inaccurate information on Facebook and whether links to related stories and comments are effective in correcting users who believe misinformation. Among people that are less prone to believe conspiracies, seeing a headline from at least one reputable fact-checking source usually made them change their minds and believe the truth. But comments by other users contesting false claims without evidence did not have an effect.

“If you correct without sources, people don’t care at all,” Bode said. “If you are talking to your friends on Facebook who are posting, make sure you include a source.”

That corrective source for Argentinians is often Chequeado, the highly regarded fact-checking site, as Mitchelstein demonstrated with a survey of people who casually followed politics. Many respondents said people cherry-pick the data they want to believe from Chequeado, but there was still a consensus that the site plays an important role in Argentine politics.

“In Argentina, Chequeado is synonymous with fact-checking,” Mitchelstein said. “They became like the arbiter of truth, and I think it’s great thing.”

Although fact-checkers receive more attention during campaigns, many still struggle to drive traffic to their sites. Chris Blow from Meedan, which builds digital tools for journalism, provided recommendations for how fact-checkers can make articles more visually appealing and persuasive.

Blow lauded Animal Politico for its engaging graphics ratings statements via dog illustrations, inspired by the site’s name, “El Sabueso,” or “The Hound.” He also praised Africa Check and Les Observateurs, a French site, for showing clear ratings on their Twitter posts to make sure  readers knew the conclusions. Blow also critiqued posts from other publications that he said may bore or confuse readers due to too much text or a misleading placement of the rating.

 

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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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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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Canadian Press fact-checkers find politicians full of baloney

The wire service uses the first sausage-based rating system to fact-check politicians from No Baloney to Full of Baloney.

By Shaker Samman – April 29, 2015 | Print this article

While many fact-checkers around the world rate the accuracy of statements on a true-to-false scale, the team at the Canadian Press rates them by their value in meat.

The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is the world’s only sausage-based rating system, a lighthearted scale that goes from No Baloney (true) to Full of Baloney (false). The scale is inspired by the old saying about someone telling a lie.

“It’s kind of a throwback,” said Canadian Press Ottawa Bureau Chief Heather Scoffield, but the ratings don’t mean the work is frivolous. The Canadian Press fact-checks explore important topics and are backed by thorough research.

A little baloney (from Canadian Press)
“A little baloney” on the Baloney Meter means “the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required.”

The Baloney Meter can be “silly, but the piece itself is the furthest thing from being silly,” Scoffield said.

Scoffield launched the fact-checking service last spring after months of deliberation. The fact-checks started just in time for Ontario’s general election last June.

The provincial race was something of a practice round for the Canadian federal election this fall. Scoffield said she plans to increase the number of fact-checks as the election nears.

“There’s enough baloney out there that we could ramp up,” she said.

Currently, most Baloney Meter fact-checks examine statements by  officials in the federal government, but Scoffield said the focus will shift to political parties during the election.

Unlike most fact-checking efforts, the Baloney Meter has no dedicated staff or website. The checks are done by reporters for the wire service and the content is sent to subscribing news organizations for them to use in print and online. While readers can’t directly search for every meter ranking at a centralized location, the broad reach of the wire service gives the fact-checks wide exposure.

The biggest challenge for the Canadian fact-checkers has been the difficulty getting public data.

“This government is not known for being open,” Scoffield said. “It places a limitation on us for what we can actually fact check. We choose our topics accordingly.”

A lot of baloney (from Canadian Press)
“A lot of baloney” on the Baloney Meter means the statement “is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth.”

When fact-checkers determine there is inadequate information, they use Baloney Meter’s “Some baloney” rating. Scoffield said the Baloney Meter has earned a good reputation in the Canadian government. She said that politicians like the attention to the substance of the policy rather than the theatrics surrounding it.

“Even if they [politicians] don’t come out looking great, they appreciate that we’re talking about the substance of it,” Scoffield said.

With that kind of impact comes a great deal of responsibility. Scoffield said she knows that even the slightest slip up could lead to criticism.

“You have to do it well, or you lose your credibility,” Scoffield said. “We absolutely can’t take sides. We have to deal strictly with the facts.”

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Poligraph: Building a fact-checking brand in Minnesota

Veteran fact-checker Catharine Richert launched the site in 2010 and built it into a popular feature for Minnesota Public Radio.

By Claire Ballentine – March 25, 2015 | Print this article

Catharine Richert’s boss once told her that she had the hardest job in the newsroom.

As the sole reporter working on Poligraph, Minnesota Public Radio’s fact-checking feature, Richert investigates claims made by state politicians and rates them Accurate, Misleading, Inconclusive or False. She publishes her fact-checks on the MPR website and discusses her fact-checks on the air Friday afternoons.

Five years after Richert started it, Poligraph has become a well-known part of MPR’s political coverage. Although refereeing Minnesota’s often sharp-elbowed politics is no easy task, Richert has managed to make Poligraph a success.

“MPR has been able to build a very specific brand around what we do that’s very recognizable to our audience,” she said.

Despite the limitations of running a one-woman show, Richert believes that being the single voice gives her credibility and consistency on the radio.

Richert
Catharine Richert

“I think with radio that one single voice reporting on something is all that much more important.”

Poligraph began as a joint initiative between MPR and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in 2010. Richert, a grad student at the Humphrey School at the time, worked for Poligraph part-time while in school. Her previous experience working for PolitiFact in Washington, D.C. helped prepare her for the job. When she graduated in May 2011, MPR offered her a full-time position.

MPR’s affiliation with the Humphrey school ended, but Richert kept the feature going.

To determine which claims to check each week, Richert discusses possibilities with her editor. Their most important criteria is that the claim was in the news that week.

“Other than that, we fact-check things that make us curious,” she said. “Most weeks, we try to check one Republican and one Democrat, and we’re pretty strict about that.”

Although the three other reporters on the MPR politics team keep their eyes open for ideas, Richert and her editor are the primary contributors.

They began with three ratings — Accurate, False and Inconclusive — and added Misleading.

She said that Poligraph also started incorporating their sourcing directly into the story, instead of listing it at the end, and fine-tuned her radio appearances.  

“I think we’ve gotten a lot better about being clear and concise on the air and just hitting the top things people need to know,” she said.

Richert said that fact-checking in Minnesota is different than at the national level because she can have more impact.

“Occasionally, people will just stop using a talking point after we do what we do,” she said. “It happens a little more often here than it did when I was working in Washington.”

She has found that politicians in Minnesota are more responsive to fact-checkers than the politicians she dealt with in Washington while working for PolitiFact.

“People here are far more willing to be transparent about where they’re getting their information,” she said. “It’s rare when someone doesn’t respond to an email.”

Richert noted that Minnesotans are especially engaged in politics and want to hold their politicians accountable.

“People are really interested in policies,” she said. “They want to know the details behind some of the things that people say.”

Richert said that most of the reaction to Poligraph has been positive and that people enjoy the feature on the radio.

“I certainly get my share of angry emails,” she said, “but I think that at the end of the day, people appreciate being more well-versed in what the facts are whether they agree with them or not.”

Richert said the success of Poligraph shows that it doesn’t take a giant staff to hold politicians accountable.

“You don’t have to have this elaborate set-up to fact-check,” she said. “You can simply do it through reporting — and that’s what all reporters should be doing.”

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How the Rouhani Meter fact-checks Iran’s president from 6,000 miles away

Fact-checkers aren't welcome in Iran, so Farhad Souzanchi and the Rouhani Meter team work from Canada.

By Daniel Carp – March 17, 2015 | Print this article

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. The project, a collaborative effort between ASL19, a research organization that helps Iranians circumvent Iran’s internet censorship, and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, has researched 73 promises and rated them as Achieved, In Progress, Not Achieved or Inactive.

“When Rouhani came, he campaigned on hope and presented himself as a moderate. He said he would fix the image of Iran on the international stage, and with that came a lot of exciting promises,” Souzanchi said. “Our main goal was to promote conversation over these issues — government accountability and government transparency.”

There is virtually no transparency in Iran, which ranks 173rd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The Rouhani Meter is currently the only active fact-checking project in the entire Middle East.

In a world with a 24-hour news cycle and a growing global fact-checking movement, politicians in countries with a free press are growing accustomed to having their words scrutinized. In the United States, White House aides and members of Congress often cite fact-checking websites. But you won’t find Iranian officials citing the Rouhani Meter—they won’t even acknowledge the site’s existence.

“President Rouhani once said that people are monitoring us through the Internet. It was an indirect mention of it,” Souzanchi said. “But they haven’t addressed Rouhani Meter directly. They don’t want to legitimize it.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 11.54.13 AM
To date, the Rouhani Meter has followed 73 promises made be Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his campaign and first 100 days in office.

Working from across the Atlantic Ocean, access to reliable information is the biggest challenge the Rouhani Meter staff faces in its day-to-day reporting. Iran’s government maintains tight control over public information. ASL19 policies dictate that their reporting cannot involve collaboration with sources inside Iran, which would pose a risk to the sources’ safety.

The Rouhani Meter is forced to follow the Iranian press and collaborate with journalists working outside the country to check the president’s promises, a tactic that has impressed researchers who study the global fact-checking movement.

“It’s hard to imagine how you go about that without having access to data from the government or groups within the country,” said Lucas Graves, assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “With how complicated and nuanced these questions very often get, even a seemingly-straight-forward fact-check sometimes takes several days to research. Having seen these processes up close, I can’t imagine the difficulties of having to do this from halfway around the world.”

Without an error to date, the site’s painstakingly meticulous process has paid dividends.

Of the 73 registered promises on the Rouhani Meter, 11 percent are considered “Achieved” and 36 percent are designated “In Progress.” Five percent of promises are labeled “Not Achieved,” with the remaining 48 percent inactive. Promises on the site are broken down into four categories—socio-cultural, domestic policy, economy and foreign policy, which were the pillars of Rouhani’s campaign.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 12.03.47 PM
A sample of some of the socio-cultural promises the Rouhani Meter is currently tracking.

Some promises are easy to check. For example, Rouhani’s promise to re-open Iran’s House of Cinema was easily verified when the theater was opened Sept. 12 by deputy culture minister Hojjatollah Ayoubi. Rouhani’s plan to establish a Ministry of Women is yet to come to fruition, so the promise is designated as “Not Achieved.” Other promises are much more difficult to track, particularly those involving the economy. With little economic data available (and healthy doses of skepticism about that data’s validity), tracking Rouhani’s pledge to increase Iran’s economic growth poses a major challenge. The promise is currently designated by the Rouhani Meter as “In Progress.”

Since its launch on the day of Rouhani’s inauguration, the site has been visited more than 20 million times by 3.6 million unique visitors across the world. The Rouhani Meter is available in English, but the site’s Farsi version makes up more than 95 percent of its traffic. Reports on the site are often written in Farsi before being translated to English, but Souzanchi said that process varies.

Viewing the site from inside Iran presents a challenge all its own. A month after the site launched, it was blocked by the Iranian government. It can still be accessed with Internet circumvention tools and virtual private networks.

Souzanchi indicated that a lack of mainstream accessibility does not affect readership. Internet circumvention is a way of life in the tech-savvy nation of Iran, where nearly three-fourths of the country’s population is under the age of 40.

Iranians are accustomed to using circumvention tools so they can access popular websites Facebook and Twitter, so they can easily use them to see the Rouhani Meter.

“It hasn’t been a problem reaching people,” Souzanchi said.

Despite the Rouhani Meter’s goal to give Iranian citizens access to information, the project has some opponents inside the country’s borders. Much of this is because Souzanchi was inspired to start the site after seeing the Morsi Meter in Egypt, which tracked promises made by President Mohamed Morsi until he was overthrown in a coup.

Because Morsi was ultimately overthrown, conservative Iranians have attacked the Rouhani Meter because they fear the website conspires to carry out similar plots in Iran—a claim that Souzanchi says is not true.

“My answer to those who accuse Rouhani Meter of overthrowing President Rouhani is that our project is not about that,” Souzanchi said. “It is about encouraging political accountability in government. We, and I believe all healthy promise tracking platforms, are focused on accurate reporting based on strong research. Our reports on promises, which may be sometimes positive or negative, are always backed by the best data we have access to.

“In order to be a reliable and transparent source of information, promise trackers cannot and will not side with or against political leadership. Meters and fact-checking websites are ultimately there to help citizens to make informed, evidence-based decisions in a democratic process—and if we did our job, encourage healthy discussion.”

As the site continues to grow, the Rouhani Meter team has launched the Majlis Monitor, a new website that tracks activities in the Iranian parliament. Souzanchi also is looking for ways to expand its coverage to Iranians around the world.

A more challenging long-term goal is the expansion from promise-checking into fact-checking, which Graves said would be an even tougher task for an organization that works remotely. But the organization that refuses to let an ocean, opaque government activities and censored internet access stand in their way thinks it is up to the challenge.

“Through close collaborations with experts, activists, Iran-focused institutions and of course crowdsourcing hopefully we can overcome the challenges of limited access to information as much as possible,” Souzanchi said. “As ASL19’s motto goes, ‘There is always a way!’”

Update, March 17: We clarified our description of the unusual remote approach of the Rouhani Meter to say that it is “a unique fact-checking website because it is run remotely from another country.” As far as we know, it is the only one run entirely from another country, but there are some sites in which fact-checkers in one nation also fact-check claims from another nation.

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From ‘Baloney’ to ‘Screaming Lies’: the extreme ratings of the world’s fact-checkers

Our 2015 census of fact-checkers reveals the odd names they use for the most ridiculous falsehoods.

By Claire Ballentine – February 5, 2015 | Print this article

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).
  • FactCheckEU, which rates statements by politicians in Europe, uses a rating system that includes “Rather Daft” and “Insane Whopper.”
  • The Washington Post Fact Checker, written by reporter Glenn Kessler, utilizes the classic tale of Pinocchio to rate the claims made by politicians, political candidates and diplomats. A rating of one Pinocchio indicates some shading of the facts, while two Pinocchios means there were significant omissions or exaggerations. A rating of four Pinocchios simply means  “whoppers.” The French site Les Pinocchios uses a similar scale.
  • In Australia, ABC Fact Check uses a wide range of labels that are often tailored to the specific fact-check. They include “Exaggerated,” “Far-fetched,” “Cherrypicking” and “More to the Story.”
  • PolitiFact, the fact-checking venture of the Tampa Bay Times, uses the Truth-O-Meter, which rates statements from “True” to “Pants on Fire” (a rating reserved for the most ridiculous falsehoods).
  • The Honolulu Civil Beat rates the most outrageous statements as “Screaming Lies.”

    From The Hound in Mexico
    A false rating from The Hound in Mexico
  • Mexico’s new site The Hound rates statements from “Verdadero” (true) to “Ridiculo” (ridiculous), accompanied by images of dogs wearing detective hats. Uruguay’s UYCheck uses a similar scale. Argentina’s Chequeado also uses a “Verdadero” to “Falso” scale, plus ratings for “Exagerado” (exaggerated) and “Enganoso” (deceitful/misleading).
  • In California, the local website Voice of San Diego uses a system modeled after PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter. But instead of “Pants on Fire,” it uses “Huckster Propaganda.”
  • Denver’s NBC 9 Truth Test gives verdicts such as “Needs Context” and “Deceptive.”
  • In California, the Sacramento Bee’s Ad Watch uses a scale from “True” to “Outright Lie.”
  • Instead of words, WRAL in Raleigh uses traffic lights. Green is “go ahead, run with it”; red means “stop right there.”
  • Italy’s Pagella Politica labels its most far-fetched statements as “Panzana Pazzesca,” which loosely translates as “crazy fib” or “insane whopper.”
  • Australia’s Crikey Get Fact site named its fact-checking meter the Fib-O-Matic. Ratings range from true to “Rubbish.”
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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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