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The Week in Fact-Checking: The trouble with reality

“On The Media” co-host Brooke Gladstone published a punchy, short book for those grappling with the state of facts under President Trump. Her recommendation for journalists is to keep fact-checking but provide crucial context if they want to have an impact on reality. “[R]efer to the circumstances in which people live,” she says, “because that’s how we filter our information.” Read Poynter’s Q&A with Gladstone.

Quote of the week
“Fact-checking isn’t the harbinger of a complete and certain truth. But it is a method, or rather the method, to get closer to it, with the awareness that in our profession truth still matters” — Marco Pratellesi, codirector of Agenzia Giornalistica Italia.

Fact-checking Jimmy Kimmel
In an emotional monologue about his infant son’s health problems, the late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel made several statements about politics and health care. His monologue and the resulting reaction provided fact-checking fodder, with PolitiFact’s fact check resulting in a retraction from at least one pundit.

Not Trump
Viral tweet, fake President (Gizmodo).

OMG look at this tornado!
Your Facebook friend shared a photo of a tornado that turned out to be fake. So what? See why sharing a fake photo of a weather crisis isn’t harmless.

Tips for better fact-checking
Mona Chalabi of The Guardian offers step-by-step instructions on how to fact-check an issue raised by a potential Trump administration appointee, who questioned the success rate of birth control. … For the Southern Poverty Law Center, history teacher Jonathan Gold has developed a curriculum called “Learning How to Know.”

Is that true? Ask an Italian.
A six-country study conducted by researchers at Oxford and Michigan State universities indicates that Italians are more diligent about fact-checking. “…this skepticism may be linked to strong partisanship in Italian news,” said one researcher. (Full disclosure: One of your newsletter authors is Italian.)

Are newspaper ‘wrappers’ fake news? 
Writing in The Spectator, Fraser Nelson has harsh words for newspapers that use advertising “wraps” that are “designed to deceive the reader and look like genuine front pages.” Take a look at some examples.


About that backfire effect
This comic-style explanation about why some people are fact-resistant has gone viral. But it doesn’t address recent studies that say the “backfire effect” may be nearly non-existent.

More weaponization of ‘fake news’
What do the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of the European Council and Donald Trump have in common? They all call things they don’t like “fake news.” For Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s CNN and the New York Times; for Donald Tusk it is the campaign of Marine Le Pen.

The New York Times, late to the fact-checking game
“The New York Times likes to proclaim its supremacy over all competitors in all categories,” writes public editor Liz Spayd. “But it’s barely on the scoreboards in the journalistically fashionable realm of ‘fact-checking.'”  Its one dedicated fact-checker is still too few, she writes.

Looking back at French fact-checking
A new study by economists at Sciences Po and the Paris School of Economics concluded that exposing respondents to facts about migration improved their accuracy but didn’t reduce the likelihood of voting for the lying politician. … Nieman Lab writes about lessons we can draw from the Crosscheck collaborative fact-checking effort. … And Jack Posobiec tweeted a photo of fake Paris.

Fake news: The song
The story of fake news, dishonest media and the “failing piling of garbage” has been compiled into one rap-ish song. We’re looking forward to the Broadway musical.

12 quick fact-checking links 
(1) USA Today has asked Facebook to check into fake Facebook followers. (2) All major television networks now have blocked President Trump’s “fake news” ad. (3) The Newseum’s project to fight misinformation will start in Palo Alto. (4) Tell us about your fact-checking events! Here’s one from Seattle. (5) Sign up for the first massive open online fact-checking course in Portuguese. (6) Follow #MisinfoSci on Monday for tweets from the ICWSM workshop on research challenges in digital misinformation.  (7) Indian readers: Send possible hoaxes to BOOM via WhatsApp. (8) A profile of three Greeks (or Greco-somethings) studying misinformation around the world. (9) If Google and Facebook want to fight fake news, they need better weapons, say two Harvard professors. (10) The Internet Archive has collected fact-checked claims made on television news programs during President Trump’s first 100 days, all shareable. (11) PolitiFact fact-checks Ivanka Trump’s new book. (12) Really, just don’t publish an item if you can’t verify it. Even if it’s only about large chickens.

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