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‘Every elected official in America ought to face the Truth-O-Meter’

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American Journalism Review slurps PolitiFact:

Every elected official in America ought to face the Truth-O-Meter,” says PolitiFact creator and Editor Bill Adair.

On March 1, PolitiFact launched its second state spinoff in Florida as the Sunshine State’s races for governor and U.S. Senate begin to heat up. The St. Petersburg Times-owned Web site has been scrutinizing and evaluating the public pronouncements of national politicians since 2007.

“It’s a really good match for Florida politics, and it’s the right time,” says Anders Gyllenhaal, executive editor of the Miami Herald, the Times’ PolitiFact partner in Florida.

PolitiFact, which has followed‘s example to spearhead what Adair calls “a whole new form of journalism,” scours interviews, press releases, advertisements, pundits’ comments and even chain e-mails for claims by candidates and officials that make its staffers and readers wonder, “Is that true?” Writers then break apart a claim into elements that can be fact-checked and turn to original sources for context, says Amy Hollyfield, a PolitiFact writer and the Times’ government and politics editor. The parts of the claim are analyzed and evaluated for their level of truth; the writer and a panel of three editors then award the overall assertion one of six ratings on the Truth-O-Meter, ranging from “True” to the dreaded “Pants on Fire.”

This type of fact-check journalism is a way of “marrying old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting with extensive transparency with who our sources are, and combine those two things with a level of authority and credibility that allows us to make the call,” says Times Executive Editor Neil Brown.

PolitiFact Florida’s work is published on a state page on the PolitiFact Web site and in both of the papers.

Sites like PolitiFact have become “the Google on politics,” says Tom Fiedler, a former Herald executive editor and now dean of Boston University’s College of Communication. “It’s a reflection of the way people have turned to the Web to answer just about any question on any issue.”  Continue reading here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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