Friday, November 28th, 2014

Behind the Meter

In our first six weeks, we've gotten lots of feedback about our Truth-O-Meter rulings. For any given ruling, some of you agree and some don't. But we always appreciate hearing what you think.

Our Truth-O-Meter is based on the concept that – especially in politics – truth is not black and white. Depending on how much information a candidate provides, a statement can be half true or barely true without being false.

We spend a fair amount of time deliberating on our rulings.

The discussions begin with the reporter who writes the article and recommends what the Truth-O-Meter should say. That suggestion is then reviewed by at least two, most often three, editors/senior reporters who read the draft story then meet by phone and decide together whether the recommended ruling is supported by the research. The reviewers can change the ruling – and occasionally have.

Here's a look at the six readings on the Meter:

TRUE – The statement is accurate and there's nothing significant missing.

MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.

HALF TRUE – The statement is accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

BARELY TRUE – The statement contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

FALSE – The statement is not accurate.

PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

How to contact us

Email comments and suggestions for fact-checks to truthometer@politifact.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. (If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.)

We're especially interested in any chain emails or social media memes that you would like us to check out.