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Five US election fact-checking projects that lift journalism to next level

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Five US election fact-checking projects that lift journalism to next level

Fact-checking not only holds the candidates more accountable, but it’s also what people want to see. The American Press Institute found that the number of fact-check stories in the U.S. news media increased by more than 300 percent from 2008 to 2012. Many news organisations continued this upward trend in very innovative ways during the debate.

Even Hillary Clinton joined in.  

When Trump claimed that Clinton would raise taxes and “increase regulations all over the place,” Clinton ushered people to her campaign website to get the real facts. 

“So we have taken the home page of my website,, and we’ve turned it into a fact-checker,” she said. “So if you want to see in real-time what the facts are, please go and take a look.” 

Fact-checking is taking off at a time when Americans are losing trust in the media. Only 32 per cent trust the mass media (down eight percentage points from last year) "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly,” according to a Gallup poll.  

Trump tried to use this sentiment of growing mistrust to his advantage. Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News anchor and the moderator for the debate, fact-checked Trump live by pointing to an interview in which Trump said he supported the war in Iraq, even though he now denies this ever happened and blames Hillary and the “mainstream media” for his own fallacies. 

“That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she — frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media,” he said. 

Though Trump may feel differently about media presence, a Monmouth University poll released this week revealed that 60 per cent of voters believe one of the duties of the moderators is to fact check candidates who state false information during the debates. 

The debates were estimated to reach 100 million people. This audience should not only represent an immense potential in terms of pageviews and traffic. People deserve to know the truth about what the candidates promise to do if elected. 

Here are five standout examples of how major outlets used innovative tools to fact-check the debate.

1. The New York Times produced live analysis feed with fact-checking alongside debate stream

The New York Times was one of many to live stream the debate on their site. Alongside the embedded video, viewers could see reporters' analysis of the debate. The reporters also embedded fact-checking material from fact-checkers at The New York Times. The feed was reminiscent of chatrooms from the early days of the Internet, giving users the feeling that they were sitting in on an internal newsroom discussion. Viewers could also turn on "reactions" to select an emoji that reflected their feelings toward the candidates' responses. 

2. Politifact's live twitter stream on website with "Truth-O-Meter"

Politifact had 18 fact checkers working through the 90-minute debate to produce a live-stream on Twitter, which also populated on their website. Each live fact-check is accompanied by a rating on their "Truth-O-Meter," which indicates the level of falsehood in a given statement ranging from True to "Pants on Fire." The site also features "files" on the candidates with scorecards revealing the calculated percentage someone has lied based on the site's fact-checks. 


3. The Washington Post integrated fact-check video and infographics 

The Washington Post's Fact Checker team did a multimedia roundup of the 23 most noteworthy claims of the night and weighed their level of validity.

The fact-check page hosts a video (embedded above) with pop-up text that unfolds at the sound of an interrupting chime, revealing the Fact Checkers' findings on a particular issue.  

The team also included infographics that display statistics explained in their roundup. 

For example, the embedded chart explains that violent crime is on the decline, providing real context after Trump misleadingly used the violence in Chicago as a representative example of America's crime rates.

4. POLITICO's individual fact-checking blurbs 

The policy reporters at POLITICO wrote short fact-checking articles in response to the candidates' statements. The articles are posted successively on the site so readers can scroll through to see how the debate unfolded. When you click on the headline of a post, you're directed to that post's own page, where you can comment and share that post specifically. 

5. National Public Radio's (NPR) politics team annotated portions of the transcript with fact-checks 

The NPR politics team worked to update the transcript live as the debates proceeded. The page has portions of the text underlined and followed by analysis and fact-check. It mirrors a collaborative Google Doc, featuring comments from editors and reporters.




2016-09-27 16:54

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