'Around the World, Politicians Exaggerate'

Bill Adair on the global growth of fact-checking journalism as a check on power

Bill Adair, Knight Professor of the Practice at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, discusses the worldwide growth of fact-checking -- the journalistic practice of checking the accuracy of statements made by public officials -- and the launch of a new organization for the profession. Adair, the founder of Politifact, teaches in the school's DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. 

Launched by the Tampa Bay Times in 2007, PolitiFact quickly became a go-to source for assessing the accuracy of politicians' claims during the 2008 campaign. Its distinctive Truth-O-Meter rates officials' public statements on a scale ranging from "True" to "Pants On Fire" -- "not just false, but ridiculously false." Two years after its creation, the site won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. 

In the seven years since PolitiFact was launched, fact-checking has become a global enterprise. In early June, the Reporters’ Lab, a project of the DeWitt Wallace Center, co-sponsored the inaugural Global Fact-Checking Summit at the London School of Economics. Fifty-five journalists from six continents gathered to learn, share best practices and build a community of world-wide fact-checkers.

Rae'Shelle Drayton is a NC Central University student working this summer with the Sanford School of Public Policy.