Twitter  What does Marty Baron think of the "Russian lizard sex station in space" story on WashingtonPost.com? nie.mn/1o8X9BC  
Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Miss the endless debates in the U.S. last year over the rise of fact-checking sites? Well, move to Australia, where the debates are apparently just starting in earnest. Politifact Australia, the U.S. site’s first international affiliate, launched in May, and newspaper veteran Ian Moore doesn’t much like it:

In essence, sites such as these are not a journalistic enterprise, nor a resource. They are out to cut the lunch of established publishers with cheap grabs. This is as far from real journalism as practised by newspaper masthead publishers as it gets. It is the job of journalists to establish facts and break news, not indulge in needless semantics.

Another fact-checking enterprise is about to be launched by the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation], with $10 million of taxpayers’ money. The broadcaster is currently hiring staff for a unit that will check the factual basis of statements by politicians and other public figures, while generating content. Its work seems to be mainly internal, but an ABC spokesperson says the unit will have its own web page.

Now that is a frightening prospect — groupthink not only being accepted by the national broadcaster, but is being made compulsory. It does little to support the contention of independent journalism.

If there is improvement to be made to journalism standards, it won’t be achieved by caucusing on interpretation of facts. It would be far better to encourage better use of the journalist’s stock-in-trade — words and language. Standards have lapsed in recent years as a result of inattention to the teaching of basic grammar and proper vocabulary in our schools.

Now who will be the Rachel Maddow of Australia?

— Joshua Benton
                                   
What to read next
BuzzFeed mobile
Caroline O'Donovan    
Ben Smith says it will be a guide through the noise of news in social media, and that journalists should realize they’re “part of a collaborative project with other news outlets.”
  • Bryan

    “The Rachel Maddow of Australia”? Are you kidding?

    The best criticism of PolitiFact has always come from the political right. James
    Rago of the Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer Prize in part for his criticism of PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year”

    http://www.imediaethics.org/News/2301/Wall_street_journal_reporter_wins_pulitzer_for_criticizing_politifact_.php

    Yet mainstream journalists somehow think Maddow is the face of PolitiFact
    criticism? No ideological bubble to see here. Move along.

  • http://www.niemanlab.org/ Joshua Benton

    Calm down, Bryan. It was a joke.

  • Bryan

    Good one!