Washington News Council
promoting fairness, accuracy, & balance in the news media
A place to discuss the way political stories are covered in the news.
The political campaign season inevitably generates controversy about which candidates are telling the truth, getting their facts right, and playing it straight with voters. Television campaign commercials are often accused of being misleading, simplistic or downright inaccurate. Some newspapers used to have “truth squads” to hold political candidates and their commercials accountable. Nationally, the St. Petersburg Times created Politifact (http://www.politifact.com) to play this role.
Should someone do this in Washington state? If so, who? And how will they pay for it?
On August 18 2010, the day after the primary election, The Seattle Times started “Truth Needle” which they describe as “a new feature to help voters discern fact from fiction between now and the November election. The Truth Needle will examine the claims of candidates and campaigns in the top races and decide whether they are true or false.”
They started it, of course with the results of their first investigation: “Rossi’s claim on Murray’s spending misses mark,” subheading: “U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi has claimed that Sen. Patty Murray has voted for every spending bill in Congress since 2004. But based on his campaign’s own definition of a spending bill, that charge is false.”
That’s at least one major media player in our state stepping up to the plate. What’s more, they are asking us to participate by submitting potentially false claims. They write: “Have a political claim you’d like checked out by The Seattle Times? Submit the claim and any relevant information and we’ll consider for a future Truth Needle investigation.”
You can click here to submit a Truth Needle claim.
Glad to see this. I wonder how many investigations they will be able to conduct before election day.
Part of me wishes they would allow the public to help fact check, similar to the Truth Squadmodel adopted by NewsTrust. It could be more efficient that way, (or it could not).
Let’s keep our eye on this and see what else surfaces. We may have to fact check the fact checkers at the Times. : )
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