NPR's On The Media

The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth, So Help Me God


“All of practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” remarked my high school world history teacher once during class. Cynical? Perhaps. But it’s a rather fair remark to make. There’s certainly evidence to support his claim.

In this week’s February 16th podcast, On the Media showcased an ingenious prototype dubbed ‘The Truth Teller’ created by the Washington Post. The goal of The Truth Teller is simple. Inspired by Apple’s ‘Siri’, the Truth Teller is a web-based application that fact checks speeches in real time (or as close to it as possible). This new piece of technology is in its early days yet, but I believe it has the potential to be something huge.

With the Truth Teller, politicians would no longer be excused for blatantly ignoring or twisting the truth because the power of fact checking would be firmly placed in the hands of the people. I can see this becoming especially useful during the Presidential debates where the validity of some facts this past year, for instance, were sacrificed for the sake of persuasion.

To some extent, streaming fact checking already exists in our world but it is not so widespread or as common. I remember watching the debates with my friends’ iPad propped up beside us, tuned towards the New York post Twitter feed that was constantly being updated by the second with responses of people also watching the live event. Twitter was used in the same way that NPR strategist Andy Carvin from a previous podcast utilised it during the Arab Spring Revolution to verify information.

With a bit more improvement, I believe the Truth Teller could very soon be a part of the future of news technology.

One comment

  1. I agree. Truthteller is a really fascinating piece of technology. I also agree with you on using twitter as a fact checker. Many forms of open source media are great fact checkers. They can also be horrible fact checkers. You have to be somewhat skeptical when using this type of media but overall I think its pretty helpful.

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