“Be skeptical and verify everything”: Fact-checking tips from PolitiFact

Through Craig Silverman’s Regret the Error blog, I discovered the YouTube Reporters’ Center, a new resource for “citizen reporters,” bloggers, or anyone interested in journalism to “help you learn more about how to report the news. It features some of the nation’s top journalists and news organizations sharing instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting.”

The YouTube Reporters’ Center contains dozens of videos, including Nicholas Kristof on covering a global crisis, Bob Woodward on investigative journalism, Arianna Huffington on citizen journalism, Dean Wright on online journalism ethics, Katie Couric on how to conduct an interview, and Scott Simon on how to tell a story.

One video that may be of particular interest to readers of this blog is “PolitiFact’s Guide to Fact-Checking”:

The main points stressed in the video are relevant to all kinds of research: be skeptical, verify everything, use original sources, “love– and fear– the Internet,” and be very careful when using Wikipedia.

PolitiFact.com is a Pulitzer Prize-winning political fact-checking website run by the St. Petersburg Times, home to the “Truth-O-Meter” and “Obameter”:

Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times examine statements by members of Congress, the president, cabinet secretaries, lobbyists, people who testify before Congress and anyone else who speaks up in Washington. We research their statements and then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter – True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True and False. The most ridiculous falsehoods get our lowest rating, Pants on Fire….

We created the Obameter to help you assess the Obama presidency. Our reporters have compiled a database of more than 500 individual promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign. We research and rate their status as No Action, Stalled or In the Works and then ultimately determine whether it earns a Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.

Another political fact-checking website of note is FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

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