15 May 2011

Thankyou, Full Fact!

Promoting accuracy in public debate

It's a rare day which doesn't see the group whose logo is reproduced at the head of this page checking facts which appear on the printed page of a newspaper or are uttered by 'experts' and politicians. 

Prompted sometimes by a member of the public, concerned that what they've read or heard may not be true, and sometimes I suspect out of a doubt in their own minds, the team at Full Fact research the data until they have got to the bottom of the problem. They then publish their Factcheck results online on their website as well as to the increasingly wide audience of Twitter. 

They appear to be refreshingly non-partisan and fair in the way they present their conclusions, unlike the many of the sources of the 'facts' they investigate!

More and more, Full Fact is becoming a real force in holding organisations, especially the press, to account and have had a great deal of success in extracting corrections to articles which contain inaccuracies.

Tonight, a tweet from Full fact appeared on my timeline containing the following link: Newspapers Correct Incapacity Benefit Claims After Full Fact Complaint .

I had noticed what appeared to be exaggerations and inaccuracies in an article in the Express on April 28th 
and wrote a blogpiece in an attempt to show how such a piece could be divisive and hurtful to the subject of the article. 

Full Fact went much further, examined similar claims printed in the Sun, Telegraph and the Daily Mail and have managed, by way of complaint to the PCC, to wrench an agreement from all three newspapers to print corrections to their articles.  

 The process was not easy:
"Unfortunately we again found that the papers’ reluctance to acknowledge the error made the correction process longer and harder than it needed to be, however we are happy that Full Fact’s work seem to have been taken on board: when the latest set of ‘fit to work’ statistics were released a few weeks ago, the papers all managed to avoid repeating this mistake (although we did come across other errors)."

If any justification were needed for the setting up of Full Fact, the final paragraph of their announcement of their success says it all:

"We hope that by finally setting the record straight these particular errors will not be repeated by the MPs considering the Welfare Reform Bill, and Full Fact stands ready to ensure that future discussion of the legislation bear a closer resemblance to the facts."

More power to Full Fact's collective elbow!