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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact expands to Australia

The Truth-O-Meter has arrived down under.

PolitiFact Australia, our first international venture, has launched at politifact.com.au. It marks a new milestone for PolitiFact and a big step for the global fact-checking movement.

Headed by veteran editor Peter Fray and a talented team of reporters, PolitiFact Australia will fact-check government officials and candidates in Australia's federal election, scheduled for Sept. 14.

Australia's politics are every bit as rough and tumble as the United States', with passionate voices across the political spectrum.

PolitiFact, the award-winning fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times, started in 2007 as an experiment in covering politics. The goal: help readers sort out the truth in conflicting talking points with relentless reporting, original sources and the Truth-O-Meter.

In six years, we've grown into the nation's largest fact-checking organization. We've rated more than 7,000 claims from politicians, pundits and special-interest groups and now have partnerships in 10 newsrooms across the country (Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin).

PolitiFact Australia is a new company headed by Fray, former editor in chief and publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and its Sunday edition, the Sun-Herald, and Ben Ashton, a former publishing executive who has managed several digital ventures. Fray has also been editor of the Canberra Times and the Sunday Age of Melbourne. In his 30-year media career, he has been a news editor, foreign correspondent, political reporter, religious affairs writer, features editor, gossip columnist and rural reporter.

The Australia site has a different look from our U.S. ones, with new colors and a modern style. The Truth-O-Meter also has a distinctive Australian look.

The PolitiFact journalism has not changed. The Australian staff follows our standards for thorough research and clear writing. The reporters and editors have studied many U.S. fact-checks and have been trained in the Principles of the Truth-O-Meter, our guide to making rulings.

In a note to prospective PolitiFact Australia reporters, Fray summarized the new organization's commitment to our unique form of accountability journalism:

"Fact-checking is not for the fainthearted, lazy or sloppy," he wrote. "It is certainly not for reporters who fret about burning sources or who can't take the heat. It is for those who sign up to a mission and have the courage, skills and stamina to see it through."

PolitiFact expands to Australia 05/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 6:39pm]
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