The Week in Fact-Checking: Please forgive my student loans. They didn’t mean it.
The American Press Institute presents a roundup from the world of fact-checking, debunking and truth-telling — just in case you haven’t been paying as much attention as we do.
Quote of the week
“You know, honey, truth is a prism that shattered at the top of the world. Nobody ever finds the prism; all anybody ever finds is a shard.” — Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg, quoting Indiana reader
Fact check of the week
When presidential candidates say they’re “going to end this program” if elected, it’s a good idea to see if that’s even possible, you know, constitutionally speaking. Emma Brown, the Washington Post’s national education reporter, takes apart some attacks on Common Core. Read it.
Tips for better fact-checking
Who, exactly, are “the American people”? And what, precisely, are “conservative” values? Columnist Jennifer Rubin implores journalists to fact-check the meaning behind those words and other incantations — like “amnesty” and “Ronald Reagan”— when they’re uttered by politicians. Read it.
Fact-checking the 2016 elections
Journalists (and voters) have a new fact-checking tool for 2016: The Political TV Ad Archive. Well-known for its Wayback Machine, the organization is archiving thousands of campaign ads along with deep data and fact-checks. See an example here. The ads and data can be shared with your social media friends and embedded in your blogs. Read more about the project.*
The technology of fact-checking
And help is on the way for the 2020 elections: automated fact-checking, an idea that’s quickly moving from science fiction to real life. The International Fact-Checking Network and Duke University will hold a “Tech and Check” conference in March “to explore the promise and challenges of automated fact-checking.” Read it.
The American Press Insitute is assisting several organizations and schools in their quest to become better fact-checkers this year. You can find a frequently-updated list here. On Saturday, the University of Oregon hosted a session designed to help journalists cover elections and live events, including an emotional session on live coverage of the community college shooting in Roseburg. Read it.
If you missed the flat-earth debates five centuries ago, you can relive them through scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter-schooling of rapper B.o.B., who was instructing his Twitter followers to “grow up” and realize the earth is not a big ball. (The American Press Institute’s research shows that misinformation on Twitter far outweighs anyone’s attempts to correct it, so we hope the physicist’s tweets closed that gap a fraction.)
It’s always good to have the occasional reminder that flesh-eating sea cows are not real and, in general, that television dramas have a casual relationship with facts. The Observer checks the X-Files and Entertainment Weekly takes on The People vs. O.J. Simpson.
Some fact-checking fun
“Fake college facts” were trending on Twitter this week, including: “You can get student loan forgiveness if you sincerely apologize.” Read more.
*The American Press Institute will help conduct training for journalists, college students and faculty in Virginia and North Carolina who want to know more about using the Political TV Ad Archive. Contact us for more information.
All photos: Flickr Creative Commons