Politicians make a lot of wild claims. Often, it can be difficult to separate the true from the semi-true from the downright false. That is where FactCheck.org of Penn’s own Annenberg Public Policy Center comes in.
FactCheck.org is a company that verifies politicians’ statements across their speeches, interviews and social media. A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, the organization is a nonpartisan resource that aims to reduce voter deception.
The work is “tedious,” FactCheck.org director Eugene Kiely said, but he nevertheless recognizes its significance. Through partnerships with major media outlets, including MSN and CNN, FactCheck.org reaches vast audiences, which is one of Kiely’s primary goals.
Lori Robertson, managing editor at FactCheck.org, acknowledged that fact checking is “time-consuming work,” and that most major media outlets do not possess the time or the resources to do their own fact checking. It is for this reason that she believes FactCheck’s services are so vital. While FactCheck.org is not the only fact-checking service in existence, its information is free and available to the public, which is it what makes it stand out from any other similar organizations.
“While we have seen an increase in fact checking,” Robertson said, “we still feel like we fill a void in traditional journalism. As a nonprofit our information is free for media to reprint.”
Robertson often gets asked if the work of FactCheck.org can change how politicians behave. Unfortunately, she said that “we rarely see politicians change a claim.” Even so, she still believes the role of fact-checking organizations is to “hold politicians accountable.” Politicians may not change, but she added that “we’re there for voters ... to make sense of different messages that are coming at them.”
FactCheck.org also offers internship opportunities for politically-inclined undergraduate students. College junior Raymond McCormack started working at FactCheck.org because he wanted to learn more about the political process. On a daily basis, McCormack monitors political candidates’ statements in speeches and on social media to look for questionable claims.
He said that it is his goal to not only become more knowledgeable about politics himself, but to help others become more informed. “I love analyzing and looking at political statements with a critical eye,” he said. “I like knowing that I’m helping people.”Comments powered by Disqus
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