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Get your facts straight: ABC website to investigate contentious claims

15 August, 2013

Australia is about to get its facts straight – that's the message from the team behind the ABC's newly launched Fact Check website and accompanying platforms including television, radio and social media.

Politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate will all be firmly in the spotlight of Fact Check, which aims to determine the accuracy of claims and releases its findings via a colour-based rating system.

Claims will fall into one of three categories: In The Red – a negative ruling; In The Green – a positive ruling; and In Between – which uses orange and yellow to indicate murky levels of credibility such as "unsubstantiated" and "lawyers' picnic".

ABC Fact Check plans to monitor local media on a daily basis and investigate contentious claims.

So while trivial-gaffe seekers may be better off perusing elsewhere, the website is set to become a popular destination for those on the lookout for the truth, or lack of it, behind statements likely to influence the public debate.

"The focus will be on statements that can be tested rather than opinion and inflated political statements made in the heat of the election campaign," according to the ABC.

John Barron, an accomplished journalist and television presenter familiar to viewers of The Drum and to listeners on ABC NewsRadio, will present Fact Check determinations.

Fact Check Editor Russell Skelton said ABC Fact Check would strive to provide context, insight and understanding to the claims made.

"We will avoid gotcha journalism and embarrassing slips and examine the issues we believe resonate with the public debate," Skelton said.

"Our interest is in the accuracy and relevancy of claims rather than pontificating on what is true or false with tabloid descriptions."

Skelton said all deliberations would be transparent and evidence-based with sources being clearly stated and linked to.

"We know the accuracy of statements can change with time and that people can have differing interpretations of events and statistics. We will revise and update conclusions in the light of changing circumstances and new information."

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James | Friday, August 16, 2013, 11:01 AM
Who would trust the ABC to give an accurate assessment? It's a blatant left wing organization funded by tax payers with a reputation for very one sided and twisted reporting.
Lou Furbadamo | Friday, August 16, 2013, 11:16 AM
Struth! Heavens rejoice and tickle me senseless Bruce! Forcing our duplicating, habitual, three ring circus full, of pollie clown spin snorters to get their ruddy facts straight and tell the honest truth! That’s novel, far fetched, stunningly ambitious and likely to run to dry program disaster? The sappers ’l be too frikin frightened to say anything insincere! But it’ll be worth the laugh though, to determine Australia’s Fibber Jerquer of Jerquers? Will we be able to competitively split them? Perhaps with lengthy, blessed crowbar? Furbo!
Peter | Friday, August 16, 2013, 11:34 AM
I and I'm sure the public welcome some scrutiny of our politicians. It is becoming more and more apparent that integrity is a low value of our modern day politicians. Gillard's lie on "no carbon tax" tops the long list of deceit. Remember that in common law, verbal agreements become law, yet politicians seemingly are not subject to this law. The question here is Can ABC remain unbiased in their presentation of the "actual facts"?
Alf | Friday, August 16, 2013, 11:41 AM
Fact , Labor in 6 years has near destroyed this country, Scared investment away because of stupid policies,Decimated local industries,created a national debt that will take years to return to surplus ,sucked up to the unions and the Greens at a cost that will never again be fixed.created the boat problem. Fiction, Every thing that comes out of Labors mouth and Mr Rudderless the creator of near all of labors fiscal problems, and the impractical solutions sprooked thru the media < VOTE US IN AND WE WILL SPEND BILLIONS ON YOU. where is it coming from, how can this created jobs, a good economy, and now he is stopping the boats but at what financial cost, by creating a Muslim state on Naru and we will be paying in cash for years to come, save a bloody lot of time and money if we returned them home by plane the day they arrive.
Ken Taylor | Monday, August 19, 2013, 11:44 AM
FACT. I find this very hard to believe that any thing the A.B.C report on would be a TRUE ASSESSMENT OF THE FACTS. Just where are they going to get a person who will risk their entire career to contradict any Politicians on their FACTS? Better to save the money and put on half an hour of Cartoons. At least we will all know the facts then.
Stephen Fox | Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 10:38 AM
What a brilliant idea to let ABC report on the facts! I believe this is the only way we can get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Just believe the opposite of what they say and you will have all the facts; full, straight, true and correct!
john | Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 11:56 AM
no you're right, far better we get Alan Jones to do the fact check, or maybe Old Rupe and News Corp, or maybe Fox News, now they are full of the truth to be sure, not biased at all. Anyway, what are you whingers worried about, it's not as if anyone watches the ABC anyway.
George | Saturday, August 31, 2013, 9:34 AM
James , comment is spot on, there are whole web sites devoted to exposing ABC/BBC/NPR political bias. The other stations are not brilliant either, I suppose the TV journalists need to keep their nose clean, they may need to apply for a job at ABC sometime, and the filter process on entry is pretty obvious.
Daniel | Thursday, October 24, 2013, 1:32 PM
Looks can be deivceing. In this case they ARE deivceing. Despite bearing a superficial resemblance to the US space shuttle, the Buran is better and more capable. It can launch and land in horrible conditions. How many times has NASA had to delay launches due to weather conditions. It can also do most of what the shuttle can do, except without risking the lives of a manned crew on board (Challenger and Columbia).