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The Fact-Checking Universe in Spring 2012: An Overview

February 1, 2012

By almost any measure, the 2012 presidential race is shaping up to be the most fact-checked electoral contest in American history. Every new debate and campaign ad yields a blizzard of fact-checking from the new full-time fact-checkers, from traditional news outlets in print and broadcast, and from partisan political organizations of various stripes. And though fact-checking still peaks before elections it is now a year-round enterprise that challenges political claims beyond the campaign trail.This increasingly crowded and contentious landscape raises at least two fundamental questions. First, who counts as a legitimate fact-checker? The various kinds of fact-checking at work both inside and outside of journalism must be considered in light of their methods, their audiences, and their goals. And second, how effective are fact-checkers -- or how effective could they be -- in countering widespread misinformation in American political life? The success of the fact-checkers must be assessed in three related areas: changing people's minds, changing journalism, and changing the political conversation. Can fact-checking really stop a lie in its tracks? Can public figures be shamed into being more honest? Or has the damage been done by the time the fact-checkers intervene?This report reviews the shape of the fact-checking landscape today. It pays special attention to the divide between partisan and nonpartisan fact-checkers, and between fact-checking and conventional reporting. It then examines what we know and what we don't about the effectiveness of fact-checking, using the media footprint of various kinds of fact-checkers as an initial indicator of the influence these groups wield. Media analysis shows how political orientation limits fact-checkers' impact in public discourse.

Journalism, News, and Information

Faulty Metrics and the Future of Digital Journalism

September 1, 2010

This report explores the industry of Internet measurement and its impact on news organizations working online. It investigates this landscape through a combination of documentary research and interviews with measurement companies, trade groups, advertising agencies, media scholars, and journalists from national newspapers, regional papers, and online-only news ventures.

Journalism, News, and Information

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