Behind the Meter
By Bill Adair
Published on Monday, October 1st, 2007 at 11:42 a.m.
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.
Researchers: Bill Adair
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