Fact checker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Fact checking)
Jump to: navigation, search

A fact checker is the person or organization that checks factual assertions in non-fictional text, either before (ante hoc) or after (post hoc) it has been published and disseminated, in both cases to determine the veracity and correctness of the factual statements in the text.[citation needed] The aims for the analyzed texts in question can vary widely, but often they are intended for external publication (e.g., in a periodical), or for distribution broadly within and organization or institution.[citation needed] In the digital era, with the rapid transcriptions possible between audio and text, post hoc fact checking has been extended to include public verbal statements and interview and other audio sources.[citation needed]

The result of ante hoc fact checking is most often either corrected text that can proceed to publication, or text that is rejected for failing required verifications.[citation needed] The result of post hoc checking is most often a more formal written analysis (e.g., a published column or report) of the deviations from accuracy,[citation needed] sometimes alongside a customized metric unique to the reviewer or organization (e.g., the 1-4 Pinocchios given for decreasing honesty by the The Washington Post Fact Checker project, the "True" through "Pants on Fire" TRUTH-O-METER ratings from PolitiFact, etc.).[1]

Studies of post hoc fact checking have made clear that such efforts often result in changes in the behaviour, in general, of the both the speaker (making them more careful in their pronouncements) and of the listener or reader (making them more discerning with regard to the factual accuracy of content); moreover, there are an array of subtleties and and nuances that remain to be fully understood (e.g., the propensities of audiences to be completely unswayed by corrections to errors regarding the most divisive subjects, or the tendency to be more greatly persuaded by corrections of negative reporting (e.g., "attack ads"), and to see minds changed only when the individual in error was someone reasonably likeminded to begin with.[1] Critically, studies have also shown that leading fact checking organizations do not arrive at a consensus regarding accuracy—for instance, in one study of "which political party bends the truth more," one fact checker reported inaccuracies about even (1:1 , or a 50-50 split), while another fact checker arrived at a 2:1 excess for one party over the other for the same set of statements being examined by both (CMPA, George Mason University, Chapman University study, premier organizations Fact checker and PolitiFact).[2] Hence, studies support the notion that more than one such fact checking source needs be consulted, to arrive at a consensus of opinion on statements being checked.[1][2]

Fact checking requires general knowledge and the ability to conduct quick and accurate research. The resources and time needed for fact-checking means that this work is not done at most newspapers, where reporters' timely ability to correct and verify their own data and information is chief among their qualifications. Publications issued on weekly, monthly, or infrequent bases are more likely to employ fact-checkers.

Fact-checking, known as "research" at many publications[citation needed], is most critical for those publishing material written by authors who are not trained reporters — such writers being more likely to make professional, ethical, or mere factual mistakes. Fact-checking methods vary; some publications have neither the staff nor the budget needed for verifying every claim in a given article. Others will attempt just that, going so far as communicating with the authors' sources to review the content of quotations.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, German weekly Der Spiegel runs "most likely the world’s largest fact checking operation", employing the equivalent of eighty full-time fact checkers as of 2010.[3]

Typically, fact-checking is an entry-level publishing job at major magazines; fact-checker jobs at The New Yorker are considered prestigious and can lead to higher-level positions, usually at other magazines.[citation needed]

Among the benefits of printing only checked copy is that it averts serious, sometimes costly, problems, e.g. lawsuits and discreditation. Fact checkers are primarily useful in catching accidental mistakes; they are not guaranteed safeguards against those who wish to commit journalistic frauds, such as Stephen Glass (who began his journalism career as a fact-checker). The fact checkers at The New Republic and other weeklies never flagged the numerous fictions in Glass's reportage. Michael Kelly, who edited some of Glass's concocted stories, blamed himself, rather than the fact-checkers:

"Any fact-checking system is built on trust. . . . If a reporter is willing to fake notes, it defeats the system. Anyway, the real vetting system is not fact-checking but the editor."[4]


Fact checking began in the early 20th century: "Any bright girl who really applies herself to the handling of the checking problem can have a very pleasant time with it and fill the week with happy moments and memorable occasions" — Ed Kennedy, Time (1920s). By the 1930s a fact checking department became a symbol of establishment among publications.

Modern innovations[edit]

Digital technology opens the doors for new levels of scalability both in terms of fact generation and dissemination. There are even organizations and services such as FactCheck, PolitiFact, and NewsTrust's Truth Squad dedicated entirely to fact checking. Craig Newmark of Craigslist is making major pushes for new fact checking tools and is searching for projects that will provide "information he can trust."[citation needed]

Prominent fact checking organizations and individuals[edit]


Main category: Fact-checking websites

United States

  • FactCheckEd.org:[6] 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.[7] Created September 2005

European Union

  • FactCheckEU.org:[14] "FactCheckEU is Europe's first crowd-checking platform. It is born out of the belief that as the EU becomes ever more integrated it becomes increasingly essential to develop watchdogs capable of monitoring the political debate."[15] Created January 2014

United Kingdom

  • Full Fact:[16] An independent fact checking organisation based in the UK which aims to "promote accuracy in public debate", launched in 2009.
  • The FactCheck blog:[17] A fact checking blog run by the Channel 4 News organisation.

Latin America

  • Chequeado.com:[18] Argentine fact-checking website.
  • Rete al candidato:[19] Rete al candidato is the first political fact checking digital platform in Central America. It is based in Costa Rica and was launched in 2013 by the weekly newspaper El Financiero to monitor the political debate of the 2014 presidential elections in that country. It is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Other countries


Alumni of the role[edit]

The following is a list of individuals for whom it has been reported, reliably, that they have played such a fact checking role at some point in their careers, often as a stepping point to other journalistic endeavors, or to an independent writing career.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Amazeen, Michelle (2015) "Monkey Cage: Sometimes political fact-checking works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Here’s what can make the difference.," The Washington Post (online), June 3, 2015, see [1], accessed 27 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b Davis, Katy (2012) "Study: Fact-checkers disagree on who lies most," The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), George Mason University (onine, press release), October 22, 2012 see [2], accessed 27 July 2015.
  3. ^ Craig Silverman: Inside the World’s Largest Fact Checking Operation. A conversation with two staffers at Der Spiegel, Columbia Journalism Review, April 9, 2010.
  4. ^ Dowd, Ann Reilly (1998). Columbia Journalism Review http://archives.cjr.org/year/98/4/glass.asp.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  5. ^ "Bama Fact Check". www.bamafactcheck.com. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  6. ^ "FactCheckED.org". FactCheckED.org. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  7. ^ "About Us". FactCheckED.org. Retrieved 2009-06-07. [dead link]
  8. ^ Rucker, Philip. "Fact Checker". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  9. ^ Kessler, Glenn. "About the Fact Checker - Fact Checker". Blog.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  10. ^ "washingtonpost.com Launches "FactChecker"". Findarticles.com. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  11. ^ Rucker, Philip. "Fact Checker". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  12. ^ Kessler, Glenn (2012-07-19). "Welcome to the new Fact Checker". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "St. Petersburg Times Online". Politifact.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  14. ^ "FactCheckEU.org". FactCheckEU.org. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  15. ^ "About US". FactCheckEU.org. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  16. ^ "Full Fact". FullFact.org. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  17. ^ "The FactCheck Blog". Channel 4. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  18. ^ "Chequeado.com: Fiel defensor de los hechos". Lanacion.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "El Financiero lanzó aplicación para retar a los candidatos presidenciales". elfinancierocr.com. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  20. ^ Lyman, Rick (2013-07-23). "Nonpartisan Fact-Checking Comes to South Africa". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "Fact-checking blogs turn up heat on French candidates". France 24. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Italian politics: Pinocchio's heirs". The Economist. 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  23. ^ http://www.bookmouth.com/choi.html{{verify citation[verification needed]
  24. ^ "CNN.com – Transcripts". Transcripts.cnn.com. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  25. ^ [3][dead link][verification needed]
  26. ^ [4][dead link][verification needed]
  27. ^ "William Gaddis (American author) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. [verification needed]
  28. ^ Skurnick, Lizzie. "Content". Mediabistro.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. [verification needed]
  29. ^ [5][dead link][verification needed]
  30. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. The New York Times http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/k/david_d_kirkpatrick/index.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[verification needed]
  31. ^ "Swarthmore College Bulletin". Swarthmore.edu. July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-18. [verification needed]
  32. ^ "News & Features | Rees’s pieces". Bostonphoenix.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. [verification needed]
  33. ^ "Sean Wilsey – About Sean Wilsey – Penguin Group (USA)". Us.penguingroup.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18. [verification needed]

Further reading[edit]

  • Amazeen, Michelle (2015) "Monkey Cage: Sometimes political fact-checking works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Here’s what can make the difference.," The Washington Post (online), June 3, 2015, see [6], accessed 27 July 2015.
  • Davis, Katy (2012) "Study: Fact-checkers disagree on who lies most," The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), George Mason University (onine, press release), October 22, 2012 see [7], accessed 27 July 2015.
  • Lewis-Kraus, Gideon (2012) "RIFF: The fact-checker versus the fabulist," The New York Times Magazine (online), February 21, 2012 [print edition, February 26, 2012, p. MM45, title, "I Have Taken Some Liberties"), see [8], accessed 27 July 2015.
  • Heffernan, Virginia (2010) "The Medium: What ‘fact-checking’ means online," The New York Times Magazine (online), August 20, 2010 [print edition, August 22, 2010, p. MM14), see [9], accessed 27 July 2015.

External links[edit]

  • Columbia Journalism Review on Stephen Glass[dead link]
  • Silverman, Craig. Note: on March 1, 2012, Google's Safe Browsing utility blocked the following website, with a comprehensive security warning which read in part: "Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer." The external link referred to for the conference report is at: www.regrettheerror.com/2010/04/09/top-fact-checkers-and-news-accuracy-experts-gather-in-Germany/ "Top fact checkers and news accuracy experts gather in Germany" "Regret the error", April 9, 2010 (Report about a conference on fact checking)