During the elections or when important topical issues show up, a lot of factchecks will pop up. Factchecking is a concept that is particularly prevalent in politics. Partly due to Trump and his fake news, factchecking and politics go hand in hand. The checks are often not popular with all politicians, because they make sure that the legislative and executive powers are just that little bit more cautious, and that’s certainly not wrong.
Black and white
During factchecking, I noticed that politicians need to have a lot of knowledge of their files in order to be able to argue with accurate data. Of course, it’s not always easy to win discussions and always be 100% honest. Sometimes politicians have to act very quickly and then it can happen, unconsciously or not, that wrong information is passed on. Nevertheless, authenticity is a quality not to be underestimated for any politician.
I also think it is important that the public and politicians clearly see that factchecking is not always black and white. There is often a grey area and it is up to us as journalists to make that very clear. It is of course more satisfying for journalists to be able to completely debunk a statement and thus prove that someone is lying. That is simply more sensational than the grey area.
But this should definitely not be the goal of a journalist. After all, it is often the case that the answer lies in that grey zone. Although politicians are indeed afraid of being ‘caught’, I think this is the wrong reflex. They can perfectly turn this fear into something positive. Better yet, they can embrace factchecking. Reliability is an aspect that is often not linked to politicians. All the more reason to be open and honest.
As a party or politician, you could even invest in factchecks yourself. That way you could prove that you are the most credible politician. That seems a title that can be important to every politician.
Leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions in the box below. Take note: your response is moderated.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Matthias Schoenmaeckers, AP University college, Antwerp, Belgium