MEDIA
07/16/2014 12:09 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2014

Political Journalists Might Want To Engage In More Fact Checking On Twitter

Fact checking is a critical role of journalists, but Twitter wasn't the place a lot of them were doing it during the 2012 presidential debates.

According to a recent study, the majority of political journalists tweeting during the debates focused on repeating the candidates' statements, rather than checking whether they were true or pushing back against false claims. The study, which Poynter reported Wednesday, was published in the International Journal of Press/Politics and analyzed tweets by 430 political journalists during the debates.

Just 15 percent of the tweets tried to check or challenge the candidates' claims. The study also found that journalists who described themselves as a "commentator" or "analyst" in their Twitter bios were more likely to engage in fact checking in their tweets, instead of just reporting them.

As Poynter noted, the fast pace of debates doesn't exactly lend itself to real-time fact checking. Some news organizations did try to fact check the candidates' statements in real-time and provided more analysis once debates were over.

The New York Times, for example, prepared pre-written fact-checking reports for the debates. Margaret Sullivan, the newspaper's public editor, spoke to Times editors about the challenge of fact checking in real time in 2012.

(h/t Jay Rosen)

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