Our on-the-record sourcing
Posted November 18, 2019 11:47 a.m. EST
PolitiFact uses on-the-record interviews and publishes a list of sources with every fact-check. When possible, the list includes links to sources that are freely available, although some sources rely on paid subscriptions. The goal is to help readers judge for themselves whether they agree with the ruling.
We always contact or attempt to contact the person, website or organization that made the statement we are fact-checking.
Every fact-check is different, but generally speaking our reporting process includes the following: a review of what other fact-checkers have found previously; a thorough Google search; a search of online databases; consultation with a variety of experts; a review of publications and a final overall review of available evidence.
We emphasize primary sources and original documentation. We seek direct access to government reports, academic studies and other data. It’s not sufficient for us to get something second-hand. We don’t rely on what a campaign or elected official tells us -- we verify it independently.
In cases where PolitiFact must cite news reports from other media that rely on unnamed or unattributed sources (usually due to the extreme newsworthiness of the report), we note that we cannot independently verify their reporting.