Washington Post office
Credit: dionhinchcliffe on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
The Washington Post is to develop a TruthTeller application which will offer real-time fact checking of video and audio, such as speeches by politicians, after receiving a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation's Prototype Fund.

Currently the Washington Post has "a very robust fact checking operation", executive producer for digital news at the Washington Post Cory Haik told Journalism.co.uk, but she added that this is "just not necessarily real time".

With the funding under its belt the Post can now look to start building a team to work on developing the concept for a real-time fact checker. This team will include people from the Post as well as other partners, such as Dan Schultz, a Knight Mozilla Fellow who created fact-checking tool Truth Googles.

The specially selected team will work on building the tool over the next few months, which a target of having a product ready for its own journalists to use by the presidential debates later this year.

"The idea is anyone could record what leaders are saying, politicians, leaders, or otherwise, and then we in some way, in real time, match that to the truths that we know. Our own fact checking operation. So a database of those truths. Or we source what the truth is from other places." Haik explained.

These could be "social databases that we build that would grow bigger, and bigger and bigger", she added. "And then relay that in real time.

"It's pretty simple in that way but to build it is super ambitious and complicated."

She said that having received the funding the Post will now "start work on this speech transcription".

"So video of speeches in real time, ingesting that and translating that to text and then passing that information and matching it against a database that we're going to start building of facts, truths that we know.

"We sort of know what politicians are going to say around maybe some of the debates or campaign speeches, and we can match those to our database because that's an ever growing thing.

"But to expand it obviously would be a lot of work so we're looking to partner with some people".

She added: "We're looking to do this in a very sort of open source way. It's not entirely fully-baked yet. We have a concept, we know where we want to get but we're going to take it down and work it in a three month chunk and see how far we can get."

In time it is hoped the tool will be able to be used by other journalists, and that there will be a public facing element for the Post's readers.

"We're not necessarily looking to have anything public facing by the presidential debates, but we'll have something that internally we can use.

"We'll show Knight obviously and we might have something to show the public, it might not be exactly in real time, but the ideas."

She also said in time she can see the product developing into an app "that people can use anywhere everywhere", with the main feature being live video with "an annotation layer" offering fact checking in real time.

Steven Ginsberg, national political editor for the post and co-writer of the Knight grant, added that "getting to what the truth is, to what we're really talking about, is the most critical thing that we can do".

"The quicker we can get everybody to agree on what actually happened, and what we're talking about, the quicker we can get to some discussion about things and get to some solution to them."

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).

blog comments powered by Disqus