Fact-checking for Economics

Martin Poulter, The Economics Network
m.l.poulter@bris.ac.uk
Published October 2018

Fact checking organisations

With each source we have given three examples of economics-related fact-checks or explainer articles.

EconoFact

Hosted by the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Econofact publishes short explanatory notes, written by a network of academics, on topics in current US debates. It gives a non-partisan context, in plain English, to questions of international trade and national policy.
Funding: university

FullFact

A UK-based fact-checking charity that openly declares all large donations, FullFact's charitable goal is to "provide free tools, advice, and information so that anyone can check the claims we hear about public issues." Though their scope includes issues of all kinds that are being debated in the UK, economic questions form a large part of their work.
Funding: charity

Africa Check

Described as one of the "global leaders in the field" of fact-checking, this charity has offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Dakar. It aims to "hold public figures accountable" by fact-checking their statements.
Funding: charity

Snopes

One of the oldest and best-known online fact-checkers, this is a US-based site but with some UK stories. Its strength is in providing a rapid counter to myths and doctored photographs that spread via social media. A small proportion of these are on economic topics.
Funding: adverts

Politifact

This well-known site concentrates on statements by US political figures, but their "global news edition" checks a more diverse set of pronouncements. Their "truth-o-meter" ratings include a "Pants on Fire" rating for particularly bold falsehoods.
Funding: mix of donations and advertising

WikiTribune

Combines professional journalists with volunteer fact-checkers and curators. UK-based but with an international scope, it focuses on explainer articles to give context to complex topics in the news. Given the Wiki-based nature of the site, some articles about current events are being actively edited.
Funding: charity

Fact-checking services of media organisations

BBC News Reality Check

The BBC’s very popular news web site includes almost daily fact checks of issues in the news
Funded by: UK Television licence fee

Channel 4 Fact Check

Fact-checks by Channel 4 News journalists, usually of political hot-potato claims, released on an irregular but roughly weekly basis.
Channel 4 News is produced by Independent Television News, a commercial broadcaster

The Conversation

Some of the posts on this site (see the guide to blogging) are fact-checks of topical issues by UK-based academics. A distinctive feature of these articles, compared to other fact-checkers, is a review by a second academic expert, who can back up or challenge the main author's conclusions.
Funding: university & charity

Ferret Fact Service

Fact-check section of Scottish publication The Ferret funded by reader subscriptions. Includes occasional “Explainers” for topics.
Funding: subscribers

Washington Post Fact Checker

This regular feature of the Washington Post site awards “Pinocchios” to US political figures for their pronouncements.
Funding: subscribers

The Week fact-check

The Week is a news magazine that digests news from around two hundred sources. Their stories include occasional fact checks of claims in the news.
Funding: subscribers & advertising

Information for and about fact-checkers

Media Bias/Fact Check

An ongoing project to review media outlets, from the well-known to the very obscure, for political bias and factual accuracy. This database includes lists of sources rated as questionable/fake news and conspiracy-pseudoscience. This is an advertising supported personal project where ratings are done by a team of volunteers, with no institutional affiliation.

A Field Guide to "Fake News" and Other Information Disorders

Created by the Public Data Lab (an international, interdisciplinary network of researchers) with support from First Draft (based at the Harvard Kennedy School), with institutional supporters including the University of Bath and Kings College London. The Field Guide "explores the use of digital methods to study false viral news, political memes, trolling practices and their social life online."

The Debunking Handbook

By John Cook (University of Queensland) and Stephen Lewandowsky (University of Bristol). This guide was prompted by the authors' experiences responding to climate change denial, but its lessons about the psychology of belief result in practical tips for anyone correcting misinformation. The handbook is a freely-downloadable PDF in multiple languages.

Fact-Checking Research Database

Hosted at The Poynter Institute, this gives quick summaries of research papers that relate to fact-checking and its effects.

PolitiFact's guide to fake news websites and what they peddle

This page lists hundreds of dubious sites in four categories, with explanations and examples of each:

  1. fake news,
  2. news outlets that sometimes mistakenly post fake news,
  3. imposter sites (that pretend to be official sites of well-known news organisations), and
  4. satire/parody sites that are sometimes mistaken for serious news outlets.