Election FactCheck is an independent, non-partisan public service that will test the truthfulness of political statements during Australia’s federal election campaign.
Academics with subject expertise will check claims by politicians, interest groups and the media for accuracy. A second academic will independently review the check.
We do not pretend that issues are black and white — we acknowledge complexity — but we do believe that informed debate in a democracy is possible only when citizens have trusted information about the basic facts on contentious issues.
Fact checking during political campaigns is new in Australia, but well-established in the US. For the federal election, there are other local players – the American spin-off PolitiFact Australia, sponsored by Channel 7, and the ABC’s soon-to-be-launched fact checking unit. We welcome them. Each will work in a slightly different way, and we believe the more people testing the claims and counterclaims during an election the better.
The idea of fact checking is hardly revolutionary – it’s what journalists do every day, and something The Conversation has been doing since our launch two years ago. But in a 24-hour news cycle, there is often less time for journalists to check whether a statement is more spin than substance. As well, the internet makes possible a dedicated site to focus on bringing accountability to political assertions.
We don’t suggest fact checking is the sole answer to improving political debate. But it has a useful role to play. As Brooks Jackson, who set up FactCheck.org in the United States in 2003, wrote recently, fact checking can’t stop politicians bamboozling voters, “but we can make voters harder to fool”.
This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.