New site helps reporters get their stories straight

WASHINGTON: Political reporters lacking the time or resources to do their own fact-checking have been handed a new tool this election season, FactCheck.org.

WASHINGTON: Political reporters lacking the time or resources to do their own fact-checking have been handed a new tool this election season, FactCheck.org.

The website, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, monitors claims made by Presidential candidates in speeches, commercials, debates, and press releases. If those claims either conflict with or offer a distorted version of the facts, the site attempts to set the record straight by posting the truth online.

Director Brooks Jackson, a former journalist with AP, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal, is the driving force behind the site, which launched in December.

"There are so many reporters for small or medium-size dailies, often for television networks, frankly, who are out there pretty much on their own trying to cover campaigns, and they just don't have a lot of time to delve into the substance of what candidates are saying," he explained. "We hope to be a source for those reporters."

Recent articles on the site, offered for free, include "What Bush Left Unsaid in State of the Union Address" and "Fibs and Flubs at the Democratic Debate."

Jackson, who heads a staff of three, said the site will also dedicate some space to helping voters "think critically" when listening to candidates' claims.

"[We want to] show them how a technically true fact or statistic can be so warped and distorted that you get a totally wrong impression," he said.

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