The week in fact-checking: Faux-checking boom, bomb threat data, the singing fact-checker
Quote of the week
“We have very aggressive fact-checkers and very thorough researchers so that we’re not wrong. Because if you make a joke about something that is factually inaccurate, the joke collapses.” John Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight”
Beware the faux check
The number of fact-checking journalists is growing in the U.S. and around the world, but watch out for an explosion of faux-checkers. In the past week alone, we’ve seen political rhetoric disguised as fact-checking from the Carly for America campaign; the Democrats’ Correct the Record site; and the Democrats in DuPage County, Ill. Just to clarify, if your fact-checking is powered by a political agenda, you’re not a fact-checker.
A new report released by the American Press Institute’s Fact-Checking Project describes the political world’s reaction to the increased scrutiny by fact-checking journalists in the U.S. That reaction alternates between validation, weaponization and distortion, says the report’s author Mark Stencel. You can read his full report here. Stencel also wrote an essay for Politico Magazine on his reporting and long history of involvement in fact-checking. Read it.
Behind the fact check
Last year, we wrote about Margo Gontar, co-founder of the Ukrainian fact-checking site Stop Fake, and how her side gig as a musician helped her get through the difficult job of being a journalist in her country. Now, Gontar has released her first album entitled “We are Free.” For an accompanying video, Gontar says the lyrics are about “things which help us keep moving forward.” Listen to it.
Fact check of the week
Are bomb threats on the rise in San Diego schools, and is Yik Yak to blame? Both the Voice of San Diego and NBC7 fact-checked a statement by the city’s district attorney, offering databases and documents to readers. Read it.
Fact-checking around the world
Do you need to come to America to learn how to do fact-checking? Yes, probably, says Johanna Vehkoo, a Finnish journalist who’s using her time as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., to help improve journalism back home. She explains what she’s learned about the “skills and mindset” of an American fact-checker. Read it.
Fact-checking for good
No pressure here: Seven startups have been named by PBS’s IdeaLab as organizations whose work could impact “the destiny of a nation.” The list includes PolitiFact, as well as a new Canadian fact-checking organization that we wrote aboutearlier this year. Read it.
Fun with fact-checking
Not surprisingly, the two candidates in the race for Mississippi’s 1st Congressional district have numerous differences — their backgrounds, their mentors, their hair. But a pre-election story in the Jackson Free Press about Walter Howard Zinn and Quentin Whitwell prompted an unusual “fact check” by bloggers for the Jackson Jambalaya website. The site, which promises regular reports on “jackassery” in Jackson, tackles this mystery: Did Whitwell start mispronouncing his own name? Read it.
Try a fact check at home
Want to help with the “Deflate-gate” investigation? Everyone else is. These bloggers have a way for you to add some factual data to the debate — but no girls allowed. Read it.
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