WebSpotlight: Politifact

Don't you wish you could look at a news story and have some little symbol give you an indication about whether the story is true? (Actually, it would be nice if everything published were true, but since truth can be "relative," and since the way something is framed can influence our perceptions and understanding of it, that's not likely.) Truth in the media has been in the news lately, surrounding Canada's law that prohibits programming content that includes "broadcasting false or misleading news." Here in the U.S., "deliberately falsifying the news" is not against the law, so it can be challenging to discern whether and how much of something is true, unless you do a lot of digging. Fortunately, there's an entity that does just that, for political statements and issues.

Recently I discovered a nifty website called Politifact. This Pulitzer prize-winning site is a project of the St. Petersburg Times. Reporters and editors "fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter." The meter ranges from completely True to Pants-on-Fire false. In addition to rating the level of accuracy of political and pundit statements, the site offers an "Obamameter" and a "GOP Pledge-o-meter" to track their various campaign promises. And, in addition to a national outlook, there are also Politifacts for eight states, including Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Oregon.

One of the elements of humane education is providing accurate information, so this site is a great tool for teachers and humane educators to use in sparking students (and relatives, perhaps) to think more deeply and critically about political issues and the "truth" of what they read in the news.

~ Marsha

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