The Week in Fact-Checking: Should you say ‘fake news’?

Politicians around the world are increasingly using Donald Trump’s favorite insult to discredit media reports they dislike. So should journalists abandon the term? In a Poynter article, The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan says yes, because “fake news” has only become more weaponized since 2016. But PolitiFact’s Aaron Sharockman disagrees, saying the phrase still has some use for describing misinformation.

Quote of the week
“It’s anything that contradicts with a leader’s version of reality. You can will away genocide, you can will away events that you didn’t want people to know happened.”  — Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University, in “Trump’s ‘fake news’ mantra a hit with despots” in Politico

Russian disinformation isn’t new, only evolved
Back in the Reagan administration, Russians were using disinformation tactics to spread conspiracies about the origins of AIDS.The New York Times takes a look at the propaganda trail through history.

As lies surge in Alabama, fact-checkers dive in
Even in the final hours of this week’s debacle of democracy known as the Alabama Senate race, fact-checkers were swamped until the final hours with last-minute conspiracy theories, misleading robocalls and a live, on-air fact check about the Bible.

Fact-checking a tweet, the old-fashioned way
U.S. Congressman Mark Takano got out his red pen to mark up what he called a “dishonest” article written by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mistakes happen, but why?
CNN says reporters followed guidelines, but this report was still in error. So was this one by ABC. And this one by a Washington Post reporter, which led to this one by a Fox News reporter. Now’s the time to review those fact-checking guidelines and best practices — because now may be the worst possible time for more mistakes.

Fact check of the week
An Australian MP said he wouldn’t talk about same-sex marriage because crocodiles kill people in Queensland every three months. That’s false.

Fact-checking the monuments
Everyone wants to fact-check President Trump’s decision to “shrink” two national monuments. But Outside magazine asks: What’s their agenda?

Bears Ears National Monument, near Blanding, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

How to be a (fact-checking) reporter
The reporters behind the Roy Moore story talk with on-air Washington Post reporter Libby Casey about how they researched and fact-checked their work.

2017 in fact-checking
The Duke Reporters’ Lab published a preliminary review of its 2017 database of fact-checkers around the world. While fact-checking organizations grew abroad, they shrunk in the U.S. — a typical trend following an election year.

This 17-year-old created her own fact-checking service
Sreya Guha, a high school student from Palo Alto, California, created a website that helps people find related fact checks using the ClaimReview schema.

Fact-checking the Vikings
Fact-checking sports history can be hard because, among other reasons, some people who hold key information might be dead.

More sports (fake) news
Someone created several bogus sites for news organizations like ESPN and The Washington Post to spread a false story about how the Washington Redskins football team changed its name to the Redhawks.

A new Bosnian fact-checking site
A platform called Raskrinkavanje launched this week to debunk fake news online, a growing source of misinformation in the region.

PolitiFact’s 2017 ‘Lie of the Year’
TBT to that time when President Trump lied about a true story, saying it was a lie.

Some fact-checking fun
Writing “fake news” is a real challenge, says comedian Ed Helms about his new show called, what else, “The Fake News Show.”

Our favorite word of the week: Transparify
The founder of news nonprofit inewsource explains how their reporters “transparify” the facts in their reporting.

Quick fact-checking links

(1) Fact-checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee wins an award for democracy. (2) The Conversation’s tips for young people who want to fight misinformation. (3) Falske nyheteris Norway’s word of the year and guess what it means? (4) Should the military have a rolein fighting misinformation? (5) Sky News’ Hotspots are designed to thwart accusations of misinformation. (6) Fact-checking “The Crown.” (7) ‘Tis the season for fake snow forecasts(8) In 2018, fake news research should move out of the lab, IFCN Director Alexios Mantzarlis says. (9) Vice’s Motherboard published a story on *ahem* AI-assisted fake porn. (10) Facebook doesn’t scan Messenger for fake news, but it should. (11) The weaponization of “fake news” has a new casualty: Polish private media. (12) IFCN FellowGülin Çavuş is at Les Observateurs to glean best practices for fact-checking the refugee crisis. (13) ICYMI: Journalism can’t afford for corrections to be next victim of the “fake news” frenzy. (14) The Web Conference has issued its call for papers on journalism, fact-checking and misinformation.

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