Monday, November 24th, 2014

PolitiFact expands to Australia

PolitiFact Australia has a very different look than our U.S. sites, but the journalism is the same: holding politicians accountable for their words.
PolitiFact Australia has a very different look than our U.S. sites, but the journalism is the same: holding politicians accountable for their words.

The Truth-O-Meter has arrived down under.

PolitiFact Australia, our first international venture, launches today. It marks a new milestone for PolitiFact and a big step for the global fact-checking movement.

Headed by veteran editor Peter Fray and a talented team of reporters, PolitiFact Australia will fact-check government officials and candidates in Australia's federal election, scheduled for Sept. 14.

Australia's politics are every bit as rough and tumble as the United States’, with passionate voices across the political spectrum. The Australia staff began fact-checking just a week ago and it didn't take them long to find exaggerations and falsehoods. The first two fact-checks are being published today and many others will be added in coming days.

PolitiFact Australia is part of a global trend toward more fact-checking. PolitiFact has inspired sites in many countries, including Sweden, Norway, France and Egypt.

PolitiFact Australia is a new company headed by Fray, former editor-in-chief and publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and its Sunday edition the Sun-Herald, and Ben Ashton, a former publishing executive who has managed several digital ventures. Fray has also been editor of the Canberra Times and the Sunday Age of Melbourne. In his 30-year media career, he has been a news editor, foreign correspondent, political reporter, religious affairs writer, features editor, gossip columnist and rural reporter.

In the United States, PolitiFact has 10 partnerships with established news organizations such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Australia site has a different look than our U.S. ones, with new colors and a modern style. The Truth-O-Meter also has a distinctive Australian look.

The PolitiFact journalism has not changed. The Australian staff follows our standards for thorough research and clear writing. The reporters and editors have studied many U.S. fact-checks and have been trained in the Principles of the Truth-O-Meter, our guide to making rulings.

In a note to prospective PolitiFact Australia reporters, Fray summarized the new organization's commitment to our unique form of accountability journalism:

"Fact-checking is not for the faint hearted, lazy or sloppy," he wrote. "It is certainly not for reporters who fret about burning sources or who can’t take the heat. It is for those who sign up to a mission and have the courage, skills and stamina to see it through."