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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Washington GIN Conference Covers the Importance of Fact-Checking

Jon Greenberg speaking at the DC GIN conference. Photo credits: Timothée Maret

PolitiFact staff writer Jon Greenberg presented at the Global Issues Network conference on Monday explaining the importance of fact checking in a global environment. The GIN conference is an annual student led conference held at George Washington University which is designed to broaden high school students awareness about global issues. There are several student led activities and presentations as well as panel discussions and keynote speakers who inspire students to be active and involved in discussions about global issues.

Keynote speaker Jon Greenberg of PolitiFact engaged students in an interactive presentation on the importance of fact-checking around the world which pushed the students to think about the extent to which false facts get thrown around in today’s society. Greenberg used this interactive presentation to get the kids interested in fact-checking and expanded their understanding of the importance of fact checking and filtering out misinformation spread by the media.

“I hope to Inspire some of you to become fact checkers yourself,” Greenberg said as he introduced the concept of PolitiFact to the audience.

Greenberg has been with PolitiFact since it was launched in 2012, and he has won two prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting. He created Punditfact after one year of working with PolitiFact which focuses principally on fact checking statements by bloggers, columnists and other members of the media.

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PolitiFact was founded in 2007 to keep track of the Obama administration and his campaign promises using the Obameter as well as checking statements made by elected officials and political leaders etc.. PolitiFact uses the Truth-O-Meter to reflect the accuracy of a statement. The scale goes from from “Pants On fire”, which says that the claim is ridiculous and false, to “True”, which means there is nothing significant in the statement that is missing or inaccurate.

Greenberg began his presentation by explaining that PolitiFact measures the accuracy of bold statements passed on as facts by influential people or organizations. He proceeded with some examples from his own work and demonstrated how much extensive research is put into each fact check. Halfway through his presentation, he took the Audience’s questions to address what the students were particularly interested in.

The students expressed their curiosity and interest towards the website through their many questions and comments. One student asked about how hard data in competes with people’s normal psychology. Greenberg said that this is one of the greatest challenges the company faces.
“Most of us, no matter what, are first and most willing to believe that which confirms the reality that we think is there. And we are ready to reject anything that runs against our world view. What we hope to do, is prove to a lot of people, and we think that they actually are the majority, that we can talk about the numbers. We don’t have to politicize everything.” Greenberg said.

Students gave great feedback, and in general thought that the presentation was very interesting and engaging.

“I thought it was really interesting because I knew what PolitiFact was, but I didn’t know how impactful it was” Alejo, a freshman at Washington International School said.

Another International School student, Fatima Sow said “I think the presentation was helpful because there were so many times I believed certain individuals when their statements ended up being false and Politifact helps keep the public informed.”

Angie Holan, the current editor of the website came to the Washington International School at the beginning of the school year and presented on what PolitiFact is. It was an interesting time to learn about PolitiFact, as the 2016 election was just wrapping up.

Many WIS students therefore already knew about Politifact and how it works which resulted in lots of the information given at Greenberg’s presentation to be repeated. Although Greenberg offered a different focus being the global impact of fact checking, it was inevitable to explain the function of the website to the other students attending the conference.

“To be honest with you I wasn’t really listening. I thought some of it was interesting but they already presented about Politifact at school so I didn’t really learn anything new,” a sophomore at WIS said.

The presentation was an overall success in getting the DC students interested in fact checking which was achieved with the keynote speaker’s energy and enthusiasm.

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