Welcoming PolitiFact Missouri (properly pronounced MIZZ-ER-AH, we believe)

PolitiFact is now keeping an eye on Jefferson City, home of Missouri's state capitol.
PolitiFact is now keeping an eye on Jefferson City, home of Missouri's state capitol.

Political speech has a common and frequent victim: the truth.

For years, politicians, officeholders and partisan campaigners have taken liberties with facts, often to advance their causes. Advances in technology and changes in news consumption and messaging strategies make shading the truth seem more prevalent than ever. Candidates and officials carefully tailor comments and assertions to be retweeted or selected as sound bites. Often their statements are never questioned or challenged.

But the same digital technology that makes political speech easier to spread also has made it easier to investigate. The Internet allows rapid access to databases, deep searching of archives and the World Wide Web itself and easy identification of knowledgeable sources and how to reach them.

Against this backdrop, a new specialty in journalism — the modern fact-check — has emerged. Verification has always been a critical element of journalism, but its value now is greater than ever.

While traditional journalism focuses on descriptive reporting and strives to accurately report what was said, fact-checking journalism focuses on accountability reporting and strives to determine whether what was said is actually true.

The application of accountability journalism to political speech is not only important to democracy, it’s popular with readers — especially when news organizations are willing to not only affirm the truth but also blow the whistle on lies. That’s why the Missourian and the Missouri School of Journalism have partnered with PolitiFact, the premiere organization for fact-checking political speech, to ferret out the facts and determine whether the statements and assertions of Missouri’s officeholders and politicians are, in fact, true.

See more of our roll-out story here.