Sunday, September 21, 2008

just the links ...

... and nothing but the links.

Make that the facts. Or more specifically, fact-checking, which has moved into prime media real estate this presidential campaign season.

The idea: to provide quick and easy measure of the truthfulness in ads, speeches, blogs and other avenues of campaign rhetoric, all at internet speed.

There's FactCheck.org, run by the Annenburg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It's goal: "to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases."

There's Politifact.com, which among other things has a "truth-o-meter" to separate fact from fiction when the candidates go on the attack.

There's even a new widget called spin-spotter, which will automatically point out bias in articles you might read online. According to Business Week, "
The application's algorithms work off six key tenets of spin and bias, which the company derived from both the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code Of Ethics and input from an advisory board composed of journalism luminaries." In addition, spin-spotter will also rely on the wikipedia-like wisdom of the crowds -- which could keep it honest or could also inject a whole new kind of bias.

No question that being able to dispatch the truth at cyberspeed is good for the reader/viewer. But here's what gives me just a bit of the uh-oh feeling: Don't you wonder why we need all these fact-checking sites apart from the newsrooms? After all, isn't separating fact from fiction the reporter's job in the first place? bk


1 comment:

Melissa said...

Especially interesting is this item from NPR's On the Media. Factchecking sites could actually be doing MORE to spread--rather that stop--misinformation. Here's a link to the transcript:

http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2008/09/19/03