Fact Checkers are not created equal: A guide

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The main Fact Checking sites are listed here, with relevant background.

Who can you believe? You will just have to learn it first hand.

Middlebury Libraries

Internet News, Fact-Checking, & Critical Thinking

Journalism and library resources

Non-partisan Fact Checking Sites

https://middlebury.libguides.com/internet/fact-checking

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June 11, 2019

The number of fact-checking outlets around the world has grown to 188 in more than 60 countries amid global concerns about the spread of misinformation, according to the latest tally by the Duke Reporters’ Lab.

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  1. Politifact

Politifact Pulitzer Prize winning site run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times (Florida) newspaper. “PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics…. The PolitiFact state sites are run by news organizations that have partnered with the Times.” Read about their principles under ‘About Us.’

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PolitiFact.com is an American nonprofit project operated by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, with offices there and in Washington, D.C. It began in 2007 as a project of the Tampa Bay Times (then the St. Petersburg Times), with reporters and editors from the newspaper and its affiliated news media partners reporting on the accuracy of statements made by elected officials, candidates, their staffs, lobbyists, interest groups and others involved in U.S. politics.[1] Its journalists evaluate original statements and publish their findings on the PolitiFact.com website, where each statement receives a “Truth-O-Meter” rating. The ratings range from “True” for statements the journalists deem as accurate to “Pants on Fire” (from the taunt “Liar, liar, pants on fire”) for claims the journalists deem as false or ludicrous.
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PolitiFact has won the Pulitzer Prize,[6] and has been both praised and criticized by independent observers, conservatives and liberals alike. Both liberal and conservative bias have been alleged at different points, and criticisms have been made that PolitiFact attempts to fact-check statements that cannot be truly “fact-checked”.[7][8] Several critics have argued that PolitiFact’s style of “fact-checking” purports to adjudicate whether a particular statement is factually true or false but instead launders biased opinion analysis by making non-factual interpretive and judgment calls, typically in a manner favorable to liberals and the Democratic Party and hostile to conservatives and Republicans.[9][10][11][12]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PolitiFact

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2. FactCheck.org

FactCheck.org “FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania….a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.”

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FactCheck.org is a nonprofit[1] website that describes itself as a “consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics”.[2] It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.[2]

Kathleen Hall Jamieson‘s 1993 book Dirty Politics, in which she criticized the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988, provided the idea for FactCheck.org.[3]

Most of its content consists of rebuttals to what it considers inaccurate, misleading, or false claims made by politicians. FactCheck.org has also targeted misleading claims from various partisan groups. Other features include:

  • Ask FactCheck:[4] users can ask questions that are usually based on an online rumor.
  • Viral Spiral:[5] a page dedicated to the most popular online myths that the site has debunked. It clarifies the answer as well as links readers to a full article on the subject.
  • Party Lines:[6] talking points that have been repeatedly used by multiple members of a political party.
  • Mailbag:[7] page for readers’ sent letters and praise or disapproval of something said on the site.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FactCheck.org

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3. Flackcheck.org

FLACKCHECK.ORG – HOW TO SPOT FAKE NEWS

An informative website dedicated to building resilience to fake news and hate through political literacy.

Flackcheck.org is based out of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and is the sister site to the award-winning FactCheck.org. Flackcheck.org works to promote political literacy and build a resilient society by challenging fake news and disinformation. The website hosts a number of resources and media that aim to provide the public with the tools to recognise fake news and especially disinformation in political ads. 

Flackcheck.org is divided into three categories: politics, health and science. FlackCheck.org’s political section aims to teach the general public, and especially youth who have yet to form solid political stances and party affiliation, how to recognise and reject patterns of deception. This is done by organising disinformation into six categories and providing detailed information on how to recognise each. The site uses relevant contemporary examples, such as political commentary and debate on climate change, immigration and gun control. FlackCheck.org also contains a helpful ‘Incivility Log’, which records cases of political incivility, such as the use of demeaning or dismissive language or the extreme characterisation of a person or group. The website hosts a number of videos. Flackcheck also has a dedicated YouTube channel with over 100 videos.

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FlackCheck “Headquartered at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, FlackCheck.org is the political literacy companion site to the award-winning FactCheck.org. The site provides resources designed to help viewers recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular.”

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4. OpenSecrets.org

OpenSecrets.org “Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.”

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OpenSecrets, created after a merger of the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics, is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that tracks data on campaign finance and lobbying.?
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Major donors to the Center for Responsive Politics include the Sunlight FoundationThe Pew Charitable Trusts, the Carnegie Corporation of New YorkOpen Society Foundations, the Joyce Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. At the end of 2017, the organization reported $1.44 million in annual revenue and $2.92 million in net assets.[16]

Funders of the National Institute on Money in Politics included the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bauman Foundation, and the Sunlight Foundation.[17][18]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenSecrets

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5. Fact Check (Washington Post)

Fact Check (Washington Post) “The purpose of this Web site, and an accompanying column in the Sunday print edition of The Washington Post, is to “truth squad” the statements of political figures regarding issues of great importance, be they national, international or local.”

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About The Fact Checker

In an award-winning journalism career spanning nearly four decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post’s chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper’s national business editor. He has been editor and chief writer of The Fact Checker since 2011.

Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a “laurel” from the Columbia Journalism Review* for obtaining Federal Aviation Administration records that showed that then President Bill Clinton had not delayed any scheduled flights when he had a controversial haircut on an airport tarmac. Kessler helped pioneer the fact-checking of candidates’ statements during the 1996 presidential campaign, when he was chief political correspondent for Newsday, and continued to do it during the last six presidential campaigns for The Post.
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This column first started on Sept. 19, 2007, as a feature during the 2008 presidential campaign. The Washington Post revived it as a permanent feature on Jan. 11, 2011. Since then, Kessler has been the editor and chief writer of The Fact Checker.

Other members of The Fact Checker team are Salvador Rizzo and Adriana Usero.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/

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6. Snopes

Snopes “The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”

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Snopes/ˈsnoʊps/, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking website.[2] It has been described as a “well-regarded reference for sorting out myths and rumors” on the Internet.[3][4] The site has also been seen as a source for both validating and debunkingurban legends and similar stories in American popular culture.[5]
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In 1994,[6] David and Barbara Mikkelson created an urban folklore web site that would become Snopes.com. Snopes was an early online encyclopedia focused on urban legends, which mainly presented search results of user discussions. The site grew to encompass a wide range of subjects and became a resource to which Internet users began submitting pictures and stories of questionable veracity. According to the Mikkelsons, Snopes predated the search engine concept of fact-checking via search results.[7] David Mikkelson had originally adopted the username “Snopes” (the name of a family of often unpleasant people in the works of William Faulkner)[8][9] in the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban.[9][10][11]
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On August 13, 2021, BuzzFeed News published an investigation by reporter Dean Sterling Jones that showed David Mikkelson had used plagiarized material from different news sources in 54 articles between 2015 and 2019 in an effort to increase website traffic.[29][30][31] Mikkelson also published plagiarized material under a pseudonym, “Jeff Zarronandia”.[29] The BuzzFeed inquiry prompted Snopes to launch an internal review of Mikkelson’s articles and retracted 60 of them the day the Buzzfeed story appeared. Mikkelson admitted to committing “multiple serious copyright violations” and apologized for “serious lapses in judgment.”[32] He was suspended from editorial duties during the investigation, but remains an officer and stakeholder in the company.[33][34]
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In 2016, Snopes said that the entirety of its revenue was derived from advertising.[46] In the same year it received an award of $75,000 from the James Randi Educational Foundation, an organization formed to debunk paranormal claims. In 2017, it raised approximately $700,000 from a crowd-sourced GoFundMe effort and received $100,000 from Facebook as a part of a fact-checking partnership.[47]

On February 1, 2019, Snopes announced that it had ended its fact-checking partnership with Facebook. Snopes did not rule out the possibility of working with Facebook in the future but said it needed to “determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication and staff”. Snopes added that the loss of revenue from the partnership meant the company would “have less money to invest in our publication—and we will need to adapt to make up for it”.[48][49]

A premium membership option that disables ads is offered.[50]

Snopes publishes a yearly summary detailing expenses and sources of income.[47]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snopes

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7. Duke Reporters’ Lab: Fact Checking

Duke Reporters’ Lab: Fact Checking Includes a database of global fact-checking sites, which can be viewed as a map or as a list; also includes how they identify fact-checkers.

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“The Reporters’ Lab is a center for journalism research in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Our core projects focus on fact-checking, but we also do occasional research about trust in the news media and other topics.” (Source: Website)

https://credibilitycoalition.org/credcatalog/funder/duke-reporters-lab/

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8. The International Fact-Checking Network

International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles The International Fact-Checking Network “is a forum for fact-checkers worldwide hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.”

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The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter was launched in 2015 to bring together the growing community of fact-checkers around the world and advocates of factual information in the global fight against misinformation. We enable fact-checkers through networking, capacity building and collaboration. IFCN promotes the excellence of fact-checking to more than 100 organizations worldwide through advocacy, training and global events. Our team monitors trends in the fact-checking field to offer resources to fact-checkers, contribute to public discourse and provide support for new projects and initiatives that advance accountability in journalism.

We believe truth and transparency can help people be better informed and equipped to navigate harmful misinformation.

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9. Reuters Fact Check

REUTERS AND FACT CHECKING

Reuters News has a fact-checking unit within its editorial department. The principal aim of this unit is to fact-check visual material and claims posted on social media. The fact checking producers in this unit report their findings on a section of the Reuters.com website.

Reuters is a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The IFCN has a Code of Principles (https://www.ifcncodeofprinciples.poynter.org/know-more/the-commitments-of-the-code-of-principles). Readers of our fact-checks are invited to contact the IFCN if for any reason they feel Reuters Fact Check has acted in breach of this Code.

FUNDING

Reuters News is part of Thomson Reuters, a corporation listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. Further details about Thomson Reuters, including Annual Reports, are available here:

https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/about-us.html

The fact-checking unit at Reuters has joined Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program. Through this program, Facebook will provide funding to the Reuters fact-checking unit, in exchange for assessments of the authenticity of content on its platform.

STAFF

Reuters Fact Check comprises of a team of dedicated journalists, which is growing. The unit is led by Hazel Baker, Global Head of UGC Newsgathering at Reuters, who has editorial control of output, with the support of other senior editors at Reuters. Hazel joined Reuters in 2017 and prior to that was digital newsgathering editor for Sky News, UK. Hazel holds a Master’s degree in Online Journalism from the University of Central Lancashire.

Further information about the wider editorial leadership at Reuters is available here:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-reuters-editorial-leadership/reuters-editorial-leadership-idUSKBN1KE2SD

https://www.reuters.com/fact-check/about

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10. AP Fact Check – Associated Press

AP Fact Check

Fact-checking, accountability journalism and misinformation coverage from AP journalists around the globe. Tips? Contact FactCheck@ap.org

https://apnews.com/hub/ap-fact-check

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