News media survival requires fact-checking

News media survival requires fact-checking

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FactsIn tradition, trust in news media was established by ethical behavior, like good intent backed up by checking the facts.

Distrust in the press grows when traditional journalistic values, like fact-checking, is forgotten.

Fact-checking is a lot of work and frequently expensive, and in today's media environment, there are a few cases where it's done in good faith like The New Yorker and Consumer Reports.

For a while, two groups which have done really good work, trying to restore this tradition, are FactCheck.org and also PolitiFact.com. Even when I disagree, usually regarding excessive literalism, I see they're doing good work. (As a nerd, I should be the excessively literal one.)

Recently, a genuinely big deal traditional journalism guy, Jay Rosen, suggested that the Sunday morning political talk shows start fact-checking their guests, big politicians. This sounds great; I talk to a lot of reporters who are frustrated when they know their guests aren't being real honest.

Jake Tapper, on This Week on ABC, has taken up the gauntlet, and engaged PolitiFact to do the right thing, with promising results. I'm impressed, and now take the show seriously.

On the other hand, the folks at Meet the Press, have the opposite take, and prefer to enable career politicians to get away with all kinds of stuff. A group called MeetTheFacts.com is trying to convince them to do the right thing, even adding a Facebook fan page.

MeetTheFacts is also experimenting with fact-checking themselves.

MediaBugs.org from Scott Rosenberg also looks pretty good

This is a promising trend, and I feel that it's a survival strategy for news media. Trust is required to survive, and there's a window of opportunity now for restoring trust, won't last forever. The winners will be serious about fact checking.

Disclaimer: because of their really good work, I'm involved with both Consumer Reports and also with FactCheck.org

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4 Comments

Beau Vrolyk

The only way that Fact Checking will regain is popularity is if people listen to the "news" and demand accuracy. Unfortunately, many of us only listen to "news" that we know will agree with our own opinions, regardless of the facts of the matter. Thus, the massive growth of highly polarize and polemic supposed "news" shows.
When the customers want to hear opposing views that are well reasoned, as opposed to confirmation of their own opinions, then we'll get real-time fact checking that works.
Beau

Mark

I've written for at least a dozen publications – always with copy editors, never with true fact-checkers. I just turned in a big piece for a major magazine and was shocked to get a call from their fact-checker, who needed the phone numbers for every single person I interviewed for the piece to be sure I'd quoted them accurately and in context. It was a delightful surprise.

Sanjay Maharaj

Sunday talks show will be even more interesting if facts are checked and then guests are challenged on the facts. Facts are facts and it will be interesting to see how politicains dodge the facts and engage on talking points which are not the facts most of the time

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