Fact-checking journalism picks up momentum as readers crave clarity
By Rob Lever, AFP
April 14, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- The facts are the focus as part of a trend in journalism spreading from the United States to many places around the world.
Journalists have always faced up to facts, but a new wave of fact-checking journalism has gained prominence in the past decade to counter misleading or outrageous claims of political figures.
Notable among these are FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009.
Following the notoriety in the United States, similar fact-checking news organizations have sprung up on every continent, gaining attention in places ranging from Egypt to Australia, Chile and France, according to a Duke University study.
The study led by Bill Adair, a Duke faculty member who was a founder of PolitiFact at the Tampa Bay Times, identified 59 fact-checking groups globally, of which more than 15 are in the United States.
“It really surprised me how much fact-checking is going on around the world,” Adair told AFP.
“I had no idea there was this much, particularly in places such as Eastern Europe. These sites are using fact-checking and are holding politicians accountable for their promises. It's really become a strong movement in journalism.”
Recognizing the growth, the Poynter Institute journalism school has organized the first global fact-checking summit, to be held in June in London.
“Fact-checking is quickly becoming an important new form of accountability journalism,” said Poynter president Tim Franklin.
“Poynter will play a leading role to help journalists do their best work and foster the growth of fact-checking, which is vital to democracies around the world.”
A watershed moment for fact-checking was the 2009 Pulitzer awarded to PolitiFact, which closely monitored claims made during the 2008 U.S. presidential race with Barack Obama and John McCain.