Fact Check: Trump And Clinton Debate For The First Time

Fact Check: Trump And Clinton Debate For The First Time

Organisation: NPR / NPR Visuals & NPR Politics (United States)

Publication Date: 04/11/2017



There was no bigger story in the United States than the 2016 presidential campaign. Our challenge was to bring light to it at a time of deep distrust with politics and the media. For years, NPR and other news organizations fact checked candidate statements. We declared them factual, nearly so, and just false. But despite a commitment to contributing to a more informed public, our work was often weaponized by campaigns, thrusting us into echo chambers that further undercut our credibility. Aggressive fact checking often seared falsehoods into our collective memory rather than wipe them out. So in 2016, NPR approached the task with an eye to fostering a trust relationship with our audience through immediacy and transparency. We eventually landed on the old school idea of annotating candidates’ words. After important speeches, beat reporters from across the newsroom checked the facts and provided context and background. We inserted their work in the raw text for readers, and included bylines and photos. For the conventions, we refined the design. While watching the acceptance speeches, our audience followed along on NPR.org, reading transcripts and annotations with a few minute delay. We saw that the audience responded positively to our coverage. By the fall, we had designed an entirely new workflow that would allow us to provide true real-time annotation and allow dozens of reporters to contribute simultaneously. Our reporters were primed, and so was the audience. Approximately 3.5 million people watched the first presidential debate with us, for an average of almost 9 minutes. In total, roughly 17 million people viewed NPR’s annotations in 2016, and engaged with them at least 30% longer than the average NPR story.
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