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Political Journos Repeat Claims Rather Than Check Facts

TwitterCongressA new International Journal of Press/Politics study finds that during the 2012 presidential campaign, political journalists opted to repeat presidential candidates’ claims rather than challenge them.

The Poynter Institute reports on the findings today, which combed through 430 journalists’ tweets during presidential debates, examining whether they merely repeated candidates’ claims or fact-checked them.

They found that 60 percent of the journalist tweets “reflected traditional practices of ‘professional’ objectivity: stenography—simply passing along a claim made by a politician—and ‘he said, she said’ repetition of a politician’s claims and his opponent’s counterclaim. Journalists largely repeated the claims and statement of candidates, rather that check or challenge them. In the end, 15 percent of the tweets reflected the traditional fact-checking approach. These tweets saw journalists “referencing evidence for or against the claim and, in a few cases, rendering an explicit judgment about the validity of the claim. The data showed that checking was done more frequently by those in the data set who identified themselves as commentators rather than reporters. This again suggests that traditional notions of objectivity may be a factor.”

Last year, we spoke with ABC’s Jonathan Karl about leveraging social media in his reporting. “You gotta use it, but you gotta use it in doses,” he said. Watch the video after the jump.


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