PolitiFact does a strong job of explaining its process in the “Our Process” section of the “About Us” page. The editors go through their methodology in a brief video (which I analyzed earlier) as well as via text. They outline their decision-making process on the facts they decide to check – admitting they can’t check everything but that focus on the “most newsworthy and significant” claims. They use several guidelines to help decide which facts to check including: “Is the statement likely to be passed on and repeated by others?” This seems to be an important standard in today’s social media atmosphere and Politifact should pay particular attention to this standard moving forward.
The editors also describe the definitions of the Truth-O-Meter rulings. The “Pants On Fire” designation has gained some notoriety thanks to media coverage but the editors do a solid job of explaining how this is part of a spectrum of designations. The editors also outline the principles behind arriving at the designations, including the all-important “context matters”: “We examine the claim in the full context, the comments made before and after it, the question that prompted it, and the point the person was trying to make.” Again, this is a smart guideline and one that seems all the more important in today’s environment.
Finally, the editors let the readers know that a panel of at least three editors determine the Truth-O-Meter rating after the article is edited. This needs a bit more information and clarity. Does the vote have to be unanimous? If there is no agreement on the ruling, do the writers do more reporting? How often does the panel meet?
5a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.