|Owner||Annenberg Public Policy Center|
|Alexa rank||36,902 (December 2013[update])|
FactCheck.org is a nonprofit, website that describes itself as a non-partisan "'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics". 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. FactCheck.org has won four Webby Awards in the Politics category, in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Most of its content consists of rebuttals to what it considers inaccurate, misleading, or false claims by politicians. FactCheck.org has also targeted misleading claims from various partisan groups. Other features include:
- Ask FactCheck: users can ask questions that are usually based on an online rumor.
- Viral Spiral: 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: talking points that have been repeatedly used by multiple members of a political party.
- Mailbag: page for readers' sent letters and praise or disapproval of something said on the site.
FactCheck.org was launched in December 2003 by Brooks Jackson, a former Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, and CNN reporter who had covered Washington and national politics since 1970. As a special assignment correspondent at CNN during the 1992 political campaign season, Jackson became well known for his “Ad Police” reports, which monitored candidates' advertising and financing strategies throughout the campaign. In 2003, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center approached Jackson about forming FactCheck.org, and the site was online in December of that year.
In 2007, UnSpun was published. This book was co-written by Brooks Jackson, the Director Emeritus of Factcheck.org and by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. It teaches readers how to be aware of the deceptions, or "spin", that is commonly used in media and by politicians.
In January 2013, Jackson stepped down as director of FactCheck.org. He now holds the title of director emeritus. Eugene Kiely, a former reporter and editor at The Record (of Hackensack New Jersey), the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today, is now the site’s director. FactCheck.org employs a staff of four full-time journalists: Kiely, D’Angelo Gore, Robert Farley and Lori Robertson; and offers yearly fellowships to undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania.
Topic in the 2004 Vice-presidential debate
FactCheck.org became a focus of political commentary following the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. Cheney cited the website, claiming that the independent site defended his actions while CEO of Halliburton. Cheney's claim is disputed by FactCheck.org as wrong, saying that "Edwards was mostly right" when talking about "Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles".
Cheney's reference created some controversy because he incorrectly cited the web site's address as "FactCheck.com." At the time of the debate, factcheck.com was controlled by Frank Schilling's company Name Administration Inc., who quickly redirected the address to point to an anti-Bush website owned by Bush critic George Soros.
Topic in the 2012 Presidential Election
FactCheck.org also became a focus of national attention in the summer of 2012, during the presidential race between incumbent Democrat Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign ran a TV ad accusing Romney of involvement in the outsourcing of American jobs overseas by Bain Capital, the venture capital firm that he had founded in 1984. FactCheck.org ruled this ad to be false, claiming that the acts of outsourcing occurred after Romney had left the company to head the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In response, the Obama campaign contested FactCheck.org’s ruling in a six-page letter that was distributed to major news corporations, holding that Romney still retained responsibility for the company’s actions.
Awards and recognition
The site has gained recognition and won numerous awards for its contributions to political journalism. In 2006, TIME magazine named FactCheck.org one of the “25 Sites We Can’t Live Without.”  In 2008, PC Magazine called it one of the “20 Best Political Websites.”  Between 2008 and 2012, the site won four Webby Awards in the Politics category, in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012; as well as four People’s Voice Awards in Politics, in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. FactCheck.org also won a 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on deceptive claims made about the federal health care legislation.
Spin-offs and other fact checkers
- FactCheckEd.org: An educational resource for high school teachers and students. Sister site to FactCheck.org and a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Created September 2005
- Flackcheck.org is a companion site to Factcheck. Its main goal, similar to that of the book UnSpun, is to teach the viewers how to be wary of deceptive tricks commonly used by politicians in ads, as well as argument flaws in general via video resources. These videos can also be viewed on their official YouTube page.
- PolitiFact.com: A service of the Tampa Bay Times - Created August 2007, uses the "Truth-o-Meter" to rank the amount of truth in public persons' statements. 2009
- The Fact Checker (The Washington Post): A project of The Washington Post, known for grading politicians on the factual accuracy of their statements with one to four "Pinocchios". Created September 2007 by Post diplomatic writer Michael Dobbs specifically for the 2008 presidential campaign. Shutdown in November 2008 and relaunched with a broader focus in January 2011 with Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler at the helm.
- Bama Fact Check: An Alabama-based, statewide partnership of newsgathering organizations which checks factual claims by politicians and public figures in Alabama. Partners in the project include The Anniston Star, The Decatur Daily, The Dothan Eagle, The Florence TimesDaily, The Opelika-Auburn News, The Tuscaloosa News, and WVTM-TV in Birmingham.
- FullFact.org: An independent fact checking organisation based in the UK which aims to "promote accuracy in public debate", launched in 2009.
- List of common misconceptions
- Fact checker
- The Skeptic's Dictionary
- The Straight Dope
- Africa Check
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- "About". FactCheck.org. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
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