We’ve shown that local factchecking can be done by small newspapers like our partner in New Hampshire, the Telegraph. And I think editors around the country will begin to see that they don’t necessarily need to hire a full team of factcheckers. They just need to train their beat reporters how to do it on the mayor and city council members.

BN: Last question. You mentioned a PolitiFact partnership in Australia, which also came up in your newspaper’s coverage of the announcement. Can you tell us more about that initiative and what the challenges are in translating your model to a country with a different political and media culture? (Do you need different labels for the ratings scales?)

BA: For the past couple of months we’ve been working with Peter Fray, the former editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, who approached us about starting PolitiFact Australia. We’re hoping to get it launched very soon.

The challenge is very similar to what we faced with our state expansion—trusting our brand to other journalists—with the added layer of the different country that is on the other side of the planet. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with Peter and I’m confident that, while there are some differences, he and his reporters will share our passion for in-depth journalism and will do excellent work.

We discussed some different ratings for an Australian Truth-O-Meter, but we’ve pretty much concluded that our scale will work well. (A bigger challenge for me: Resisting the urge to make Crocodile Dundee jokes.)

I think it will be enlightening for us to see how they do PolitiFact factchecking in a different country. I think we’ll learn a lot.


Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at brendan-nyhan.com and tweets @BrendanNyhan.