Columbia Journalism Review

Beyond the Truth-O-Meter

[Commentary] PolitiFact was among the first news sites dedicated to fact-checking, along with Snopes and The meter was innovative because it summarized our conclusions in handy ratings. But I’ve evolved. It’s been 11 years since we launched PolitiFact, and I think it’s time to move beyond my beloved meter. I am heading a project at Duke University that is developing ways to automate fact-checking—including new ways to present the conclusions. I think the Truth-O-Meter’s ratings (which now range from True to Pants on Fire) are still effective for many readers.

Who suffers when local news disappears

[Commentary] We need to move away from the arguments that the country should care about laid-off reporters or that the suits should be held to account. This can’t be about us. It has to be about why the country should care if local news goes away, which is the trajectory we now find ourselves on. What are the effects on a democracy if local news is no longer in the picture? How is my life as a New Yorker going to be worse now that the Daily News has been so terribly hobbled? If you’re in journalism and you can’t muster an answer to that question, you need to move on.

Mergers, acquisitions, and the new media landscape

While much of the media remains focused on President Donald Trump’s summit with Putin in Helsinki, an eventful week for media companies has set in motion changes that may alter how Americans get their news. In the past several days, Disney has bested Comcast in the battle for 21st Century Fox, Sinclair’s takeover of Tribune Media was torpedoed by the Federal Communications Commission, and the Justice Department attempted to block the AT&T–Time Warner merger that is already underway.

More questions than answers from DOJ letter about journalist surveillance

[Commentary] Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last August that his department was pursuing more than three times as many leak investigations as were open at the end of the Obama years, and that he was reviewing the Department of Justice’s policy on obtaining information involving journalists—reportedly to make collecting that information easier. In a recent disclosure to Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR), the DOJ does little to quell fears that this crackdown will damage journalists’ ability to protect their sources and shine a torch on government misconduct.