Fast Food & Fact-Checking: Lessons From PolitiFact
After the Tampa Bay Times won a Pulitzer Prize for PolitiFact, its groundbreaking fact-checking operation, other newspapers wanted to get in the game and start their own PolitiFact sites. Editor Bill Adair had to figure out how to scale a specialized, unique type of journalism to many newsrooms — without harming the Truth-O-Meter, the heart of the PolitiFact brand. Adair took some guidance from the fast-food industry, which has perfected how to make burgers and fries taste the same from St. Pete to Seattle. Adair will describe how he adapted techniques like secret tasters, in-depth training programs, and a build-a-burger approach to accountability journalism. Steve Myers, who has written extensively about PolitiFact and the emerging field of fact-checking journalism, will discuss how PolitiFact’s franchise approach addresses challenges of strained newsroom budgets and is a model for collaborative, distributed journalism.
Additional Supporting Materials
- How did PolitiFact expand from a three-person team at one newspaper to 35 staffers at 13 newspapers around the country, while maintaining its high-quality journalism?
- How did PolitiFact create standards that protect its brand but allow room for creativity and independence?
- How did PolitiFact adapt to a range of newsroom cultures, ownership structures and technological constraints?
- How did PolitiFact structure its partnerships so that state and national sites shared an online home, but each could monetize its own content?
- How can these lessons be applied to other high-intensity, creative endeavors?
Steve Myers Poynter Institute
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