Clear all

3 results found

reorder grid_view

Estimating Fact-checking's Effects: Evidence From a Long-term Experiment During Campaign 2014

April 28, 2015

This study reports the first experimental estimates of the longitudinal effects of exposure to fact-checking. We also conduct a comprehensive panel study of attitudes toward fact-checking and how they change during a campaign.Our results are generally encouraging. The public has very positive views of fact-checking and, when randomly exposed to it, comes to view the format even more favorably. Moreover, randomized exposure to fact-checks helps people become better informed, substantially increasing knowledge of the issues under discussion.We also document several important challenges facing fact-checkers, however. Most notably, interest in the format is skewed towards more educated and informed members of the public. Republicans also have less favorable views of the practice than Democrats. Continued growth of the medium will depend on broadening its appeal to these groups.

The Diffusion of Fact-checking: Understanding the Growth of a Journalistic Innovation

April 22, 2015

How and why is political fact-checking spreading across journalism? The research presented in this report suggests that the challenge of disseminating the practice is significant -- mere proximity does not appear to be sufficient to drive adoption. However, we find that factchecking can be effectively promoted by appealing to the professional values of journalists.Our first study considers whether journalists might emulate their colleagues in emphasizing fact-checking, following the practices of professional peers in the way that other journalistic innovations have disseminated. However, the practice does not appear to diffuse organically within a state press corps. While fact-checking coverage increased dramatically during the 2012 campaign, these effects were concentrated among outlets with dedicated fact-checkers. We find no evidence that fact-checking coverage increased more from 2008 to 2012 among outlets in states with a PolitiFact affiliate than among those in states with no affiliate.However, it is possible to effectively promote fact-checking. In a field experiment during the 2014 campaign, we find that messages promoting the genre as a high-status practice that is consistent with journalistic values significantly increased newspapers' fact-checking coverage versus a control group, while messages emphasizing audience demand for the format did not (yielding a smaller, statistically insignificant increase). These results suggest that efforts to create or extend dedicated fact-checking operations and to train reporters are the most effective way to disseminate the practice of fact-checking. While audience demand is an important part of the business case for the practice, newsrooms appear to respond most to messages emphasizing how fact-checking is consistent with the best practices and highest aspirations of their field.

Misinformation and Fact-checking: Research Findings from Social Science

February 1, 2012

Citizens and journalists are concerned about the prevalence of misinformation in contemporary politics, which may pollute democratic discourse and undermine citizens' ability to cast informed votes and participate meaningfully in public debate. Academic research in this area paints a pessimistic picture -- the most salient misperceptions are widely held, easily spread, and difficult to correct. Corrections can fail due to factors including motivated reasoning, limitations of memory and cognition, and identity factors such as race and ethnicity. Nonetheless, there is reason to be optimistic about the potential for effectively correcting misperceptions, particularly among people who are genuinely open to the facts. In this report, we offer a series of practical recommendations for journalists, civic educators, and others who hope to reduce misperceptions.