Fact checking

Fact checking is the act of checking factual assertions in non-fictional text in order to determine the veracity and correctness of the factual statements in the text. This may be done either before (ante hoc) or after (post hoc) the text has been published or otherwise disseminated.[1]

Fact checking before dissemination (ante hoc checking) aims to remove errors and allow text to proceed to dissemination (or to rejection if it fails confirmations or other criteria). Post hoc checking most often is followed by a written report of inaccuracies, sometimes with a visual metric from the checking organization (e.g., Pinocchios from The Washington Post Fact Checker, or TRUTH-O-METER ratings from PolitiFact). The aim for ante hoc analyzed text is often external publication, as in journalistic endeavors.[2] Several organizations are devoted to post hoc fact-checking, including FactCheck, PolitiFact, and NewsTrust's Truth Squad.

Fact checking organizations may not arrive at a consensus regarding accuracy. Research 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.[2][3]


Studies of post hoc fact checking have made clear that such efforts often result in changes in the behavior, in general, of 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); observations include 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 like-minded to begin with.[2]

A 2015 experimental study found that fact-checking might help improve political discourse by increasing the reputational costs or risks of spreading misinformation for political elites. The researchers sent "a series of letters about the risks to their reputation and electoral security if they were caught making questionable statements. The legislators who were sent these letters were substantially less likely to receive a negative fact-checking rating or to have their accuracy questioned publicly, suggesting that fact-checking can reduce inaccuracy when it poses a salient threat."[4]

A 2016 study found little evidence for the "backfire effect" (correcting false information may make partisan individuals cling more strongly to their views): "By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their partisan and ideological commitments."[5]

A study of Trump supporters during the 2016 race similarly found little evidence for the backfire effect: "When respondents read a news article about Mr. Trump’s speech that included F.B.I. statistics indicating that crime had “fallen dramatically and consistently over time,” their misperceptions about crime declined compared with those who saw a version of the article that omitted corrective information (though misperceptions persisted among a sizable minority)."[6]

Benefits and controversies


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

The possible societal benefit of honing the fundamental skill of fact checking has been noted in a round table discussion by Moshe Benovitz, who observes that "modern students use their wireless worlds to augment skepticism and to reject dogma," but goes on to argue that this has positive implications for values development. He argues:

"We can encourage our students to embrace information and vigorously pursue accuracy and veracity. Fact checking can become a learned skill, and technology can be harnessed in a way that makes it second nature… By finding opportunities to integrate technology into learning, students will automatically sense the beautiful blending of… their cyber… [and non-virtual worlds]. Instead of two spheres coexisting uneasily and warily orbiting one another, there is a valuable experience of synthesis…".[7]

He closes, noting that this constitutes "new opportunities for students to contribute to the discussion like never before, inserting technology positively into academic settings" (rather than it being seen as purely as agent of distraction).[7]

Controversies and criticism

One journalistic controversy is that of admitted and disgraced reporter and plagiarist Stephen Glass, who began his journalism career as a fact-checker. The fact checkers at The New Republic and other weeklies for which he worked never flagged the numerous fictions in Glass's reporting. Michael Kelly, who edited some of Glass's concocted stories, blamed himself, rather than the fact-checkers, saying: "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."[8]

Political fact-checking is often criticized as being opinion journalism.[9][10] Morgan Marietta, David C. Barker and Todd Bowser examined published fact-checks in a number of different areas, and found "substantial differences in the questions asked and the answers offered". They concluded that this limited the "usefulness of fact-checking for citizens trying to decide which version of disputed realities to believe."[11]

In September 2016, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey found that "just 29% of all Likely U.S. Voters trust media fact-checking of candidates’ comments. Sixty-two percent (62%) believe instead that news organizations skew the facts to help candidates they support."[12][13]

Organizations and individuals

The Reporters’ Lab at Duke University maintains a database managed by Mark Stencel and Bill Adair of fact checking organizations. The database tracks more than 100 non-partisan organizations around the world. Articles are also examined based upon whether the site examines transparency of sources and methods, tracks political promises, examines all parties and sides, and examines discreet claims and reaches conclusions.[14]



Latin America

Agência Lupa Truco no Congresso

United States


Alumni of the role

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

Further reading


  1. "Ante hoc - Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/acref/9780195369380.001.0001/acref-9780195369380-e-221.
  2. 1 2 3 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 , accessed 27 July 2015.
  3. Davis, Katy (2012) "Study: Fact-checkers disagree on who lies most," The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), George Mason University (online, press release), October 22, 2012 see , accessed 27 July 2015.
  4. Nyhan, Brendan; Reifler, Jason (2015-07-01). "The Effect of Fact-Checking on Elites: A Field Experiment on U.S. State Legislators". American Journal of Political Science. 59 (3): 628–640. doi:10.1111/ajps.12162. ISSN 1540-5907.
  5. Wood, Thomas; Porter, Ethan (2016-08-05). "The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes' Steadfast Factual Adherence". Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
  6. Nyhan, Brendan (2016-11-05). "Fact-Checking Can Change Views? We Rate That as Mostly True". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  7. 1 2 Moshe Benovitz et al., 2012, "Education: The Social Media Revolution: What Does It Mean for Our Children?" Jewish Action (online), August 24, 2012, New York, NY, USA:Orthodox Union, see , accessed 28 July 2015.
  8. Dowd, Ann Reilly (1998). "The Great Pretender: How a Writer Fooled His Readers". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on February 15, 2004. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  9. Riddell, Kelly (26 September 2016). "Eight examples where 'fact-checking' became opinion journalism". Washington Times. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  10. Graves, Lucas (2016). Deciding What's True: The Rise of Political Fact-Checking in American Journalism. Columbia University Press. p. 27. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  11. Marietta, Morgan; Barker, David C.; Bowser, Todd (2015). "Fact-Checking Polarized Politics: Does The Fact-Check Industry Provide Consistent Guidance on Disputed Realities?" (PDF). The Forum. 13: 577. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  12. Reports, Rasmussen. "Voters Don't Trust Media Fact-Checking - Rasmussen Reports™". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  13. Lejeune, Tristan (30 September 2016). "Poll: Voters don't trust media fact-checkers". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  14. "How We Identify Fact-Checkers - Duke Reporters' Lab". 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  15. Lyman, Rick (2013-07-23). "Nonpartisan Fact-Checking Comes to South Africa". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  16. "FactCheckEU.org". FactCheckEU.org. 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
  17. "About US". FactCheckEU.org. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
  18. "Full Fact". FullFact.org. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  19. "The FactCheck Blog". Channel 4. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  20. "Fact-checking blogs turn up heat on French candidates". France 24. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  21. "Italian politics: Pinocchio's heirs". The Economist. 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  22. "Chequeado.com: Fiel defensor de los hechos". Lanacion.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  23. "Del dicho al hecho". Retrieved 1 Sep 2015.
  24. "Gobierno nacional: Del dicho al hecho". Retrieved 1 Sep 2015.
  25. "El Financiero lanzó aplicación para retar a los candidatos presidenciales". elfinancierocr.com. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  26. "About Us". FactCheckED.org. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  27. Rucker, Philip. "Fact Checker". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
  28. Kessler, Glenn. "About the Fact Checker - Fact Checker". Blog.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
  29. "washingtonpost.com Launches "FactChecker"". Findarticles.com. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
  30. Rucker, Philip. "Fact Checker". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
  31. Kessler, Glenn (2012-07-19). "Welcome to the new Fact Checker". The Washington Post.
  32. "St. Petersburg Times Online". Politifact.com. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
  33. An Interview With Susan Choi at the Wayback Machine (archived February 18, 2001)
  34. "CNN.com – Transcripts". Transcripts.cnn.com. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  35. Contributors at the Wayback Machine (archived March 19, 2006)
  36. "William Gaddis (American author) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  37. Skurnick, Lizzie. "Content". Mediabistro.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  38. Hodge, Roger D. at the Wayback Machine (archived March 8, 2007)
  39. Kirkpatrick, David D. "David Kirkpatrick". The New York Times.
  40. "Swarthmore College Bulletin". Swarthmore.edu. July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  41. "News & Features | Rees's pieces". Bostonphoenix.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  42. "Sean Wilsey – About Sean Wilsey – Penguin Group (USA)". Us.penguingroup.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  43. Amazeen, Michelle (2012-12-14). "Sometimes political fact-checking works. Sometimes it doesn't. Here's what can make the difference.". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  44. Study: Fact-Checkers Disagree on Who Lies Most at the Wayback Machine (archived March 9, 2015). Accessed 28 July 2015.
  45. Lewis-Kraus, Gideon (2012-02-21). "The Fact-Checker Versus the Fabulist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/3/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.