Thursday, February 12, 2015

Courting the journo-lobbyist

PolitiFact, the hapless fact checkers/liberal bloggers with whom we find fault almost daily, has a history going back to 2007 of inviting readers to steer their "independent" fact checking.
What should we check? Our story about the Obama chain e-mail was suggested by a PolitiFact reader. If you have a suggestion for facts or chain e-mails we should check, click here to email us.
We noted long ago that such practices encourage people, including political activists, to try to influence PolitiFact's choice of stories.

PolitiFact created a Twitter hashtag intended to encourage story ideas from readers: #politifactthis.

We're not surprised that one doesn't get used so much. Political activists don't want broad publicity for their efforts to drive the news. It's best done behind the scenes and anonymously.

This week we found out PolitiFact is going that extra mile for its journo-lobbyists by creating a PolitiFact browser plug-in. Users will be able to use the plug-in to suggest fact check material to PolitiFact. Users will reportedly even have the privilege of voting for and commenting on specific story ideas:
Designing a fact-checking plug-in for Web browsers that will allow people to request a fact-check of Internet content from PolitiFact staff; users will be able to vote on fact-check requests and make comments on flagged content
You're doing a really fine job of maintaining your independence, PolitiFact.

Seriously, why do they not see that they're encouraging the practice of journo-lobbying? Or do they see it and just not care?

If PolitiFact views this as a problem, expect to see the plug-in disclose the identity of people who suggest, vote for or comment on fact check ideas.

We're betting it'll be anonymous. It wouldn't do to waste that $35,000 in Knight Foundation grant money on a browser plug-in that hardly anybody uses.

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