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PolitiFact Turns 10, Still Trying To Keep Politicians Honest

Aug 23, 2017

PolitiFact, the national fact-checking service that got its start in the Tampa Bay area, turns 10 this year. Before a reception Tuesday night at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg - which owns the Tampa Bay Times, its parent company - Associate Editor Amy Hollyfield reminisced about its beginnings.

"It was something we were going to do for the 2008 election, and then it - you know, maybe people will like it, maybe we'd go on. I don't think any of us at that moment could have dreamed that 10 years later, we'd be sitting here with 10 state affiliates, international connections, that it would be as big as it is now."

Hollyfield said PolitiFact took off right at the birth of social media, which helped fuel the partisan divide even more in the country.

"I think we fill the void in the journalism landscape. You know, it existed, but it wasn't as forcefully filled until we were there. And two, we've got a great gimmick. People like the fact that we make a choice, that we have this Truth-O-Meter, we give people ratings, from True down to Pants on Fire. It's a lot of fun."
 

One fact that gets a "True" on the meter: they originally wanted to name PolitiFact "Pants on Fire," after their harshest rating, but they thought that would give a bad impression.

After all, some politicians do tell the truth.

WUSF was the first outside media company to do a regular segment with the fact checkers, called PolitiFact Florida. It airs every other Friday morning and afternoon.