500 Truth-O-Meter rulings -- and counting

PolitiFact Rhode Island marks a milestone on Sunday -- our 500th Truth-O-Meter ruling.

When The Providence Journal began our partnership with PolitiFact.com in June 2010, few in Rhode Island had heard of the organization, and few other news organizations had formal fact-checking operations.

More than four years later, PolitiFact has become a verb in the Ocean State, as in "I’d better be careful what I say or they might ‘PolitiFact’ me."

And PolitiFact.com, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, has grown to include seven statewide partners across the country, with an eighth -- California -- starting up this summer. Several other news organizations in the United States and other countries have created spinoffs.

Our mission today is the same as when we started more than four years ago -- to help readers sort through the welter of claims, counter-claims, sound bites and commentaries to answer one simple question: Is what they heard or read really true?

We look for statements about important issues from political leaders, advocacy groups, talk-show hosts and others in the public discourse. We do our own independent research, share our reporting process, and list all our sources. And then, by vote of a panel of senior Providence Journal editors, we make a ruling from among the six rankings on our Truth-O-Meter.

Our rulings have created a rich database on our website, which can be sorted by topic, by speaker and, for election campaigns, by year and race.

We know that politicians and others are not always happy with our rulings. That comes with the territory.

But we believe that fact-checking is a vital public service that complements the more traditional, "he-said, she-said" journalism that often leaves readers with more questions than answers.

After 500 rulings, here’s the scorecard: True: 105. Mostly True: 85. Half True: 80. Mostly False: 71: False: 104. Pants on Fire: 55.

If you hear a statement you’d like us to check, email it to politifact@providencejournal.com. And follows us on Twitter: @politifactri.