We rate this true: The DeWitt Wallace Center will offer a new course in the spring titled “Fact-Checking American Politics.”
The course, taught by Bill Adair and Mark Stencel, will examine the growth of political fact-checking by organizations such as the Washington Post, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, along with dozens more across the United States and around the world. Students will learn advanced techniques for researching political claims by candidates and elected officials and will write fact-check articles.
Adair, the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy, is the founder of PolitiFact and the International Fact-Checking Network. He worked 24 years for the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and covered the White House, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Adair and the PolitiFact team won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009.
Mark Stencel is co-director of the Reporters’ Lab at Duke, where he tracks the spread and impact of fact-checking and teaches courses in political journalism. His introduction to fact-checking was working as a political researcher at The Washington Post during the 1992 presidential campaign. He has been a senior editor and media executive at The Post, Congressional Quarterly (now CQ-Roll Call) and National Public Radio.
The course will focus on independent analysis and advanced research techniques, including the importance of obtaining original documents and relying on multiple sources. Students will learn how to analyze claims and determine ratings. They also will learn how to identify, track and rate campaign promises.
Adair and Stencel will emphasize clear, well-argued, persuasive writing and well-supported fact-check ratings. They also will examine the impact of fact-checking on politicians and political discourse.
The course is listed PJMS 390S – Special Topics in Journalism. It is cross-listed as PUBPOL 290S.