Truth in Politics 2014: A summary of the American Press Institute summit on fact-checking journalism

The American Press Institute’s Thought Leader Summit, “Truth in Politics 2014: A Status Report on Fact-Checking Journalism,” held on Dec. 10, 2014, examined fact-checking journalism during the elections, for the 2016 campaign and beyond.

Helping to inform that process are key research studies commissioned by API and now underway by top communications scholars around the country. The API scholars kicked off the summit discussions with a presentation of their initial findings, which will be released officially in spring 2015.

Other sessions during the day included a presentation by political journalists who discussed their fact-checking efforts during the mid-term elections; demonstrations of technology to enhance fact checking; alternative presentation forms for fact checking; and a roundtable discussion that examined fact checking from the campaign advertising point of view.

In addition, small-group idea sessions were held to discuss the future of fact checking. The groups tackled questions including: What new tools should be built? What new research should be done? How can journalists become better prepared for fact checking especially as the 2016 elections approach?

Participants in the summit were journalists, advertising executives, researchers, academics and political scientists from organizations including: the Sunlight Foundation, the Washington Post, The New York Times, WRAL-TV (North Carolina), the Associated Press, PolitiFact and PunditFact,, Alaska Dispatch, Putnam Partners LLC, Kennesaw State University, University of Texas, Duke University, MIT, Knight Lab at Northwestern University, Columbia Journalism Review, Poynter, Media Matters for America, American Copy Editors Society, True Politics, and Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

Participants discussed potential needs for more research into fact-checking practice, including audiences for fact checks, impact, and development of tools for more efficient and effective fact checking.

These ideas and discussions will be used to inform API’s fact-checking efforts, programs and summit in the coming year.

The American Press Institute’s fact-checking program began in early 2014 and is funded in part by The Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation. The project’s goal is to examine the state of fact-checking in media organizations, study best practices, and provide training.