Overheard on the Web, and other Web links From The Herald's Research Editor
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Factchecking the Factcheckers
I got an email from a friend asking how reliable Factcheck.org might be, considering it is funded by money that came originally from the Annenberg family (Ambassador Walter Annenberg was a Richard Nixon appointee).
My answer: read them all. Don't trust just one. There are several sites that can help you decipher the meaning behind political claims, and I'm reposting a list I posted on WeBlog back in August. I think as the election nears it's a good idea to see what several supposedly non-partisan critics say about the issues and questions. Check these out:
Spinsanity analyses political ads and researches the story. Spinsanity's authors also have a new book out on how G.W. Bush is a master of spin.
Disinfopedia is a 'Wiki', a collaborative Website where many people contribute information, and was started by the people who run PRWatch, a site devoted to exposing advertising mistruths. Disinfopedia has added political claims to the things they investigate; one of their most popular articles back in August when I first posted this was their discussion of the 'Swift boat' charges against John Kerry.
Factcheck.org, from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, is devoted to studying political claims and finding the truth. They're also analysing the anti-Kerry ads, but all these sites debunk false statements from both sides.
Snopes.com, the Urban Legends Reference Pages, studies all kinds of rumors, exaggerations, and other tales, and finds out the truth. They've got a whole section on Politics these days.
Campaign Desk, from the Columbia Journalism Review, analyses the press coverage of the campaign. So you won't necessarily find direct criticism of the candidates' claims, but you can see if the stories you're reading or seeing are accurate.
It's worth noting, though, back to the Annenberg/Factcheck question, that among their programs funded are many public interest programs including work with public broadcasting, a couple of journalism schools, and the Norman Lear Center.
Elisabeth (Liz) Donovan was a Herald librarian for 10 years, and Research Editor for 13 years. She came to The Herald in 1981, following several years at the
Washington Post. She started blogging in 2000, with a news research blog, followed by the blog at Herald.com in 2003. A frequent speaker and writer on news research, she was honored in 2004 by the
News Division of the Special Libraries Association for her contributions to