Facts are always important and determining what is fact and what is fiction has always been challenging. It will be an even greater challenge this year as the presidential election – primary and general – heats up, as local legislators, councilors, school committee members run for office. It’s a big election year.
Fake news has become the byword of some politicians who make that claim whenever news about them is unfavorable. And on social media, in emails, at lunch conversations, false stories are shared as if they are the gospel.
We’re all responsible for getting at the truth, and when we find it, not dismissing it as some partisan claim. There are tools to help us. What follows is what I believe is an excellent guide from the Huffington Post of a few years ago on how to recognize fake news, and then a list of some of the most respected fact checking organization in the United States.
Here’s a quick checklist from the Huffington Post:
Read Past the Headline or opening paragraph. A local Rhode Island tv station recently ran an article on its website talking about a recently completed study of homelessness in Rhode Island. The article ran in December, but when you read on you learned the study took place nearly a year earlier in January and is an annual point in time survey by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Check What News Outlet Published It. – Is it a credible source?
Who Is the Author? And what have they written in the past?
Look at What Links and Sources Are Used. A lack of sources is an immediate indication that the claim or article is bogus. How credible are the sources? Do they have a bias toward any political philosophy?
Look Out for Questionable Quotes and Photos. Be skeptical of the unbelievable.
MOST IMPORTANT: Think Before You Share
FACT CHECKING ORGANIZATIONS
Climate Feedback – dedicated to fact-checking media coverage of climate change. Climate Feedback is a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in climate change media coverage.
FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). Its goal: To apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding. APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.
Media Bias/Fact Check is a web site that rates factual accuracy and political bias in news media. The site classifies media sources on a political bias spectrum, as well as on the accuracy of their factual reporting. It will identify those media sources that lean left or write, conservative or liberal, or are truly non-partisan.
PolitiFact.com: A service of the Tampa Bay Times. It was created in August 2007, uses the “Truth-o-Meter” to rank the amount of truth in a statement, and awards “Pants on Fire” to the egregious lies. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2009.
Snopes.com says it is the oldest and largest fact-checking site online. It is held in wide regard by the media and readers. Snopes.com is an independent publication owned by Snopes Media Group.
RealClearPolitics is a fact checking site that crops up in a variety of places, including mainstream media. But it is not considered non-partisan and is identified as conservative leaning by Media Bias.
Washington Post Fact Checker has become one of the most well recognized and respected fact-checking organizations.