At the end of last week PolitiFact announced it had launched a partnership with the Poynter Institute to create the PolitiFact Lab: “an initiative that will oversee joint projects and educational programmes on fact-checking”.
According to a statement from PolitiFact the lab will promote best practice and carry out fact-checking research.
The partnership will be modelled after the success of joint programs that Poynter and PolitiFact created in 2010 for PolitiFact Florida, a unique partnership of the Times, the Miami Herald and other Florida newspapers. It was underwritten by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Collins Center for Public Policy and the Craigslist Charitable Fund.
Great first-person piece from the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan on the process of fact-checking at newspapers past and present:
In short, fact-checking has assumed radically new forms in the past 15 years. Only fact-checkers from legacy media probably miss the quaint old procedures. But if the web has changed what qualifies as fact-checking, has it also changed what qualifies as a fact? I suspect that facts on the web are now more rhetorical devices than identifiable objects. But I can’t verify that.
There are a number of fact-checking platforms online, including PolitiFact, FactCheck and Meet the Facts. “The efforts are admirable. They’re also, however, atomised,” writes Nieman Journalism Lab’s Megan Garber.
Now Andrew Lih, associate professor of new media at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and author of The Wikipedia Revolution, has plans to bring the scope of the wiki format to the world of fact-checking with WikiFactCheck.
WikiFactCheck wants not only to crowdsource, but also to centralise, the fact-checking enterprise, aggregating other efforts and creating a framework so extensive that it can also attempt to be comprehensive. There’s a niche, Lih believes, for a fact-checking site that’s determinedly non-niche.
“First, I said I’d be surprised if any of the BBC’s Twitter feeds are checked either. So I was surprised when I discovered that the BBC’s Global News feed does actually pass through an editorial process whereby someone double-checks a tweet before it is published.”
Bennett uses an earlier comment from Charlie Beckett about verification in the process of reporting television news, and then asks, “What do journalists double-check and why? What doesn’t get checked and why? Does the checking process make any sense?”