UPDATE: A day after our post, below, Poynter.org published a story about TheJournal.ie’s political fact-checking operation, and the Duke Reporter’s Lab also updated their global list to reflect the effort in Ireland.
It’s campaign season in Ireland. Voters are bombarded by bold statements about:
- the impact of government job schemes on the unemployment rate
- how many people are homeless in Ireland
- Labour’s pledge not to increase student fees
In the heated run to Ireland’s 26 February general election, the rhetoric about such issues can create more confusion than clarity, especially when delivered by office-seeking politicians. Who can sort it out?
TheJournal.ie is “testing the truth of claims made by candidates and parties on the campaign trail” by deploying fact-check or accountability journalism; described by a recent U.S. study as “news organizations producing content that is branded under a special title and rates or judges the accuracy of claims by politicians and government officials.”
TheJournal.ie was not among 75 active fact-checking services around the world in an October update by the Duke Reporters’ Lab, though the Dublin-based website appears to have been doing such reporting since at least in 2014. Wikipedia describes the 6-year-old online-only news service as “a mixture of original and aggregated content in a manner similar to The Huffington Post.”
(Fact Check Northern Ireland, a fledgling effort on Twitter at @, does not have an active website.)
Of course, there’s also plenty of conventional and social media coverage of the Irish elections. The Irish Times is pumping out stories and analysis, plus the Inside Politics podcasts. The Irish Independent has pages of campaign reporting, including constituency profiles and a “social media wall” with tweets from @EndaKennyTD, @GerryAdamsSF and other political leaders. RTÉ also offers podcasts, polls and features. And others.
Irish voters, like those in America who have to slog through a much, much longer election cycle, have no excuse for being uninformed when they go to the polls. Political fact checkers are helping sort out the truth.
*Disclosure: My lovely wife is editor of PolitiFact.com.