Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Fact-checking journalism gains momentum

By Rob Lever  /  AFP, WASHINGTON

MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow has also vented her ire at PolitiFact for rating as “half true” a statement about gays facing the possibility of being fired.

“Fact-checking has to count for something and PolitiFact, you are ruining it for everyone,” she said last year.

And PolitiFact drew ire when it said the 2011 “Lie of the Year” was a claim by Democrats that Republicans “voted to end Medicaid,” the health program for the needy.

“PolitiFact Has Decided That A Totally True Thing Is The ‘Lie Of The Year,’ For Some Reason,” a Huffington Post headline said.

Lucas Graves, a University of Wisconsin journalism professor who studies fact-checking, says criticism does not diminish the value of fact-checking.

“It’s hard to establish something in a way that no one can disagree with,” Graves said. “It is especially true when it comes to the kinds of facts that politicians traffic. All the fact checkers I’ve talked to are open about this, they say it is as much art as science.”

Graves, who is working on a second phase of the study and will present findings at the London summit, maintained that “while it is impossible to nail down facts in a way to convince everyone, it is even worse to leave things in a way for politicians to spin any way they want.”

Graves said that the current wave of fact-checking is about a decade old, fueled by the Internet, the notion is a long tradition in journalism.

“What will be interesting to watch is how much this becomes a regular part of political reporting,” Graves said.

So far, he observed that even though fact checking has had an impact, “it hasn’t stopped politicians from lying.”

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