Fairfax’s fact-checking failure

The editors and journalists at Fairfax just don’t get how to use their fact-checking info.

Ok, so it’s mind-boggling that Fairfax has said, yep, we don’t fact-check the news we publish, so for the election, for a gimmick, we’re going get PolitiFact to do it for us. Apparently that doesn’t bother people like it bothers me. But at least they’re checking things, unlike News Ltd. So there’s that, I suppose.

But they really don’t understand what to do with the information PolitiFact gives them.

Take this story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme to begin July 2015. In the paper it’s on page 8, with the headline “Liberals smooth out the bumps with $6b paid parental leave scheme”. It’s buried deep in the bowels of smh.com.au – I had to google the first sentence of the story to find it. Below the story (in the paper), running across pages 8 and 9, is the fact-check statement from PolitiFact – Working mothers won’t be $21,000 better off under Coalition plan – which labels Tony Abbott’s claims as “mostly false”.

So, you’d expect that information to be mentioned in the story, right?

Right?

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Of course not.

Instead, we have 476 words from Jacqueline Maley about the scheme, including the claim that women will be $21,000 better off under the Coalition’s parental leave scheme, with no mention that the claim is nonsense. Honestly, what is the point of partnering with Politifact if you don’t put that information in your stories? I don’t understand how any journalist and any editor would think it’s ok to put the news in one section, and the facts over there in a different section. It’s just bizarre.

And, in keeping with the Australian journalism approach to online news, the two damn pieces aren’t even linked on the website. Nope. If you’re reading the fact-check statement, you can’t click to the story that it’s about. If you’re reading the story – if you managed to find it – you can’t click through to the fact-check statement. How can they be so clueless?

It’s a crazy idea, I know, but isn’t the point of fact-checking to put that info inside the story?

12 responses to “Fairfax’s fact-checking failure

  1. Wow. That’s some display of incompetence right there.

    • Yep. Same with ABC and the information they got from their vote compass thing. Their election coverage on ABC News the other night was horse race, and gaffe stuff, then a story on vote compass and what people said was important to them, and then back to the horse race. What kind of idiots gather all that information on what people want to know about, and then ignore it?

      • I am so tired of listening to journalists (yes I do occasionally watch Insiders) talk about how this or that message isn’t getting through. I feel like carefully whispering in their ear that they are getting a bit meta; it’s the fact that they waste so much time TELLING us that this or that message isn’t getting through, that makes them unable to actually write or talk about this or that message, in DETAIL.

        • Oh, it makes me so mad. Every journo would go on and on about how Gillard couldn’t get her message through, but when you watch the media conferences, not a single question on what was being announced, and every question about leadership rubbish. The horse race is only interesting to journalists and few others. Most of their audience couldn’t give a shit.

  2. Completely off-topic but I thought you might like to know, I have finished my Master of Technology and been offered a job starting next year, so I am happy happy happy.

  3. I do love how sweetly you seem to hold back from really letting these ‘journos’ have it; essentially proving the facts do speak for themselves.

  4. No doubt you’ve seen this sterling example of incisive cutting-edge investigative journalism here (Under the risible byline referring to ‘breaking news’:
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/the-economist-backs-kevin-rudd-for-second-turn-20130830-2svda.html

    Oh and you might need this because that article strangely didn’t appear to link to its source material…
    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21584343-kevin-rudd-just-about-deserves-second-turn-lucky-no-more

    • Oh jeez, I think I pulled some muscles in my eyes when I was rolling them.

      • Me too, I could not believe the sheer laziness. Ok, fair enough reporting that a very conservative paper had openly supported Labor on their economic credentials, but why not investigate further, or find other examples of similar or different things? Rather than the cut ‘n’ paste ‘n’ paraphrase job there?!

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