News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

The Holden Arboretum

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Genie of Fairview Door Company


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Politics




The PolitiFact effect plays big in Ohio
Taking a closer look at the long-term effect of fact-checking on politics, government and journalism
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
In The Region:
Election Day was a month ago. But one aspect of the 2012 campaign continues to play a role as the president and Congress have moved on to the battle over taxes and spending. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports on the longer-term effect of fact-checking on politics, government and journalism.
The Politifact Effect

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:08)


Politifact began at the Tampa Bay Times in 2007, researching and assigning a truth rating to statements by politicians. The Ohio branch started up in July 2010 at the Plain Dealer, sinking its teeth into its first complete election cycle this year. PolitiFact Ohio Editor Robert Higgs told a recent gathering of the Akron Press Club the statements that come under PolitiFact’s scrutiny begin with a simple question.

“The Super PAC ads, in particular, prompted the classic response -- the one that gets us to start looking at a statement -- where a reader sees it and says , 'Is that really true? That seems odd.' And more and more we were getting specific requests from readers, 'I heard Sherrod Brown say this in a speech. Is it true?'"

Reporters follow up by scouring Census data, Congressional Budget Office reports and other original sources before Higgs and two other editors then sit down for the great debate: Where does the story fall on the “Truth-O-Meter”?

Toughest debates: The middle
Higgs expects the mission will get harder as politicians grow used to journalism that goes beyond essentially transcribing speeches. And Kelly McBride of the journalism think-tank, the Poynter Institute, agrees.

“What they're doing is, they're not spouting off as many bald-faced lies. They're all trying to avoid the 'Pants-on-Fire' rating. Because that gets a lot of attention. So instead, what they're doing is saying things that usually get a ‘partially true’ ruling or a ‘partially false’ ruling. And what that does is avoid the sensationalism of being called a liar. And allows them to deliver whatever type of spin or distortion they're trying to deliver in their message.”

Higgs is careful to note that PolitiFact doesn’t actually apply the word “lie” or “liar.” Instead, it indulges in a bit of whimsy for the most egregious claims: “Pants on fire.”

Brown v. Mandel
The battle between Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel was the most expensive in Ohio history and most contentious in memory. Higgs notes that both got more ratings that leaned true than false. When things leaned false, they usually stemmed from personal attacks and from the Super PACs that poured tens of millions into the race. And he says the string of “pants on fire” ratings against Mandel had its effect on other journalists and Mandel’s campaign.

"Early on, it was clear with the Mandel campaign that one of their strategies was to go after Sherrod Brown. They told us as much. By the time we were getting down to the end, they were operating much more like the Brown people. And when we called them up late in the campaign and said, 'What have you got to back up this claim?' They had something. And I think that is a change prompted because of the criticism from the media as a whole."

Poynter’s Kelly McBride says fact-checking by journalists is taking on greater importance due to the speed and volume of information.

“I think that in today's media environment the difference is there's so much more information coming at you if you're a member of the audience. You're not just getting the newspaper and the television. Now you're getting this firehose of information that is coming at you through Facebook, Twitter, your phone and mobile apps. So we need a new form of journalism that can help us sort through these messages that we might be hearing over and over and over again.”

Politifact isn’t the only organization doing fact-checking journalism; it’s joined by Factcheck.org, Snopes.com and The Washington Post. But Higgs notes that the effort takes time. And McBride says – especially at the local level, where fewer reporters are watching – efforts like the Plain Dealer’s are growing more crucial.
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

A small group of tea party and Democrats protest at Kasich campaign stop
Enjoyed your excellent coverage of the statehouse for sometime now, never dreamed I'd be on. The feedback from people has been great. Thank you. Doris Adams

Top staffers are leaving the FitzGerald gubernatorial campaign
I's too bad that the dirt on Fitzgerald dug up by Kasich's operatives and publicized heavily by the Yellow Plain Dealer has caused the weak staffers of the Fitz...

Churches come together to welcome and include Gay Games athletes
Nicely done!!! A little known fact about the El Salvadoran and Columbian scholarships.. A big thank you to the Faith Community for their support of Gay Games 9....

What do Ohio farmers need to do to control Lake Erie problems?
This was a great article, thank you, Karen Schaefer. There was an error- Roger Wise is the past president of the Ohio Farmer's Union; not the Ohio Farm Bureau ...

Registration for the 2014 Gay Games ends Monday at midnight
Judy Benson and Sally Tatnall are loved and appreciated by all in our community and throughout the US for their untiring work for OLOC and for educating the com...

Like any family, the Gay Games has its generation gaps
Great article ... important perspective.

Gay Games rodeo: Changing stereotypes
Robin, Thank you for a fine piece of recorded history. This is history in the making; a gay, Asian man, one of the last bronc riders in IGRA, and Rodeo at Gay G...

Ohio lawmakers hold hearing on prison food problems
So you fine them..this has been going onand the law makers are aware of this issue.I have been told by many about the maggots and rotten food not fit for a dog ...

Interview with early Beatle Pete Best
"the Leshdu (?) Quartet.." Actually that's the Les Stewart Quartet. George Harrison was in that band at the same time as the Quarry Men.

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University