New research on politics fact-checking shows growth and influence

New research shows politics fact-checking is on the rise. (iStock)
New research shows politics fact-checking is on the rise. (iStock)

New scholarly research on fact-checking journalism shows it has measurable effects on correcting political misinformation among voters, according to the American Press Institute, a nonpartisan group that has released three new studies on fact-checking.

The studies also found that the amount of fact-checking journalism produced by American media has increased significantly in recent years.

From the institute’s summary of the research:

The amount of fact-checking journalism produced in the United States is increasing dramatically, and while there are limits to its persuasiveness, it is a measurably effective tool for correcting political misinformation among voters, according to new scholarly research conducted for the American Press Institute and released today.

The number of fact-check stories in the U.S. news media increased by more than 300 percent from 2008 to 2012, one of the studies found. That accelerates the growth in fact-checking journalism found in the prior national election cycle.

Fact-checking journalism also succeeds in increasing voter knowledge, according to controlled experiments with audiences.

"Fact-checking journalism is growing rapidly but is still relatively rare and heavily concentrated among outlets with dedicated fact checkers," said the University of Exeter’s Jason Reifler, one of the scholars engaged in the research.

Three studies were conducted by Lucas Graves of the University of Wisconsin, Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, Michelle A. Amazeen of Rider University, Emily Thorson of George Washington University and Ashley Muddiman of the University of Wyoming. (Note: Graves serves on an advisory board for PolitiFact’s spin-off website, PunditFact.)

For more about the research and links to the original research reports, read the American Press Institute’s summary.