Get your facts straight: ABC website to investigate contentious claims

15 August, 2013

Australia is about to get its facts straight – that's the message from the team behind the ABC's newly launched Fact Check website and accompanying platforms including television, radio and social media.

Politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate will all be firmly in the spotlight of Fact Check, which aims to determine the accuracy of claims and releases its findings via a colour-based rating system.

Claims will fall into one of three categories: In The Red – a negative ruling; In The Green – a positive ruling; and In Between – which uses orange and yellow to indicate murky levels of credibility such as "unsubstantiated" and "lawyers' picnic".

ABC Fact Check plans to monitor local media on a daily basis and investigate contentious claims.

So while trivial-gaffe seekers may be better off perusing elsewhere, the website is set to become a popular destination for those on the lookout for the truth, or lack of it, behind statements likely to influence the public debate.

"The focus will be on statements that can be tested rather than opinion and inflated political statements made in the heat of the election campaign," according to the ABC.

John Barron, an accomplished journalist and television presenter familiar to viewers of The Drum and to listeners on ABC NewsRadio, will present Fact Check determinations.

Fact Check Editor Russell Skelton said ABC Fact Check would strive to provide context, insight and understanding to the claims made.

"We will avoid gotcha journalism and embarrassing slips and examine the issues we believe resonate with the public debate," Skelton said.

"Our interest is in the accuracy and relevancy of claims rather than pontificating on what is true or false with tabloid descriptions."

Skelton said all deliberations would be transparent and evidence-based with sources being clearly stated and linked to.

"We know the accuracy of statements can change with time and that people can have differing interpretations of events and statistics. We will revise and update conclusions in the light of changing circumstances and new information."