Reliable Sites and Sources for Election Fact CheckingBy Barbara Fullerton, Published on October 16, 2012
The event happens every four years in the U.S., but it consumes us for over 10 months, and takes perhaps 10 minutes to complete. The event is the U.S. Presidential Election, and 2012 is an election year. The action is voting. There are so many different points of view and news about the candidates and issues that it seems difficult to locate unbiased information and to sort through the facts in the media. The following sites may help an individual review issues and find truths in American politics.
PolitiFact: Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, this site claims to fact-check items and issues reported on the web and rate them on their "Beyond the Truth-O-Meter" and "Flip-O-Meter" pages. PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times. The reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups. What makes this a trusted site? It is owned and maintained by an independent, non-partisan news organization and is not "beholden to any government, political party or corporate interest". PolitiFact also has an app for smartphones and tablets. One can sign-up for their weekly emails or subscribe to their RSS Feeds. They also have a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/politifact.
FactCheck: FactCheck is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania (APPC). It was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to "create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels."
Participants are "nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocate(s) for voters that aim to reduce the level of deception and confusion in US politics." The group monitors TV ads, videos, campaign appearances and forums, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases for accuracy. FactCheck's announcements and articles are also available via an app for smartphones, email and RSS feeds. The group can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/factcheck.
Federal Election Commission: This is a US government site that monitors all election finances. In the 1970s, Congress created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). What is appealing about this site is the Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal. The Portal provides a single point of entry to campaign finance data. There are navigation maps and charts that display the campaign finance data, and search tools and methods to download data sets for analysis. Information includes campaign finance data, report filings and summary information for the 2012 presidential elections. Email subscriptions are available for the latest updates on certain pages, and you can customise the delivery frequency (immediately, daily, weekly or monthly).
The Message Machine: This site is sponsored by National Public Radio (NPR) and PolitiFact, and includes analysis of "speeches and truths in campaign advertising". Reporters from PolitiFact check claims made on TV, radio, Facebook, tweets and other social media tools on the Presidential race, House & Senate Races, statewide races and primaries. NPR airs segments about the fact-checking process on the Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other shows.
- Project Vote Smart: This site contains millions of facts on the candidates, including biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches and public comments, and campaign finance information. One feature, the Political Courage Test, measures a candidate's willingness to provide citizens with their positions on key issues. Their award-winning interactive tool, VoteEasy, allows voters to "find their political soul mate." Newsletters are available via email subscriptions, and RSS feeds are available for updates on the 20 most recent key votes going through Congress.
Reprinted with permission from FreePint.com, #359 Newsletter, Sept. 20, 2012.