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Humphrey School, MPR launch PoliGraph

Every election season, politicians have a lot to say about their records, each other, and policy issues impacting the state. But are they always telling the truth?

This year, the Institute has teamed up with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) to create PoliGraph, a fact-checking feature to look behind the spin to determine which candidates are sticking to the facts and who's not.

"Many news stories feature one politician making a statement and another disagreeing," says Professor Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, which oversees the new service. "Unfortunately, reporters don't always have time to verify what the candidates

Each week throughout the campaign season, PoliGraph will take an in-depth look at political claims made by members of all three parties--Democrats, Independents, and Republicans-- and check them against neutral sources for accuracy. Candidate claims will be judged as accurate, false, or inconclusive:

Accurate: These claims are true. They include all the important details and are supported by the facts.

Inconclusive: Though there's some truth to these claims, they leave out some information, reflect only one side the issue or have been taken out of context.

False: These claims are not true. They are misleading and leave out key details.
"I covered the Ag bill for two years," she laughs.

Just as she was leaving Washington, D.C., for Minnesota, Richert began writing for PolitiFact.com, a fact-checking service very similar to PoliGraph.

"Minnesota is a unique state," says Richert, who grew up in North Carolina. "People genuinely care about politics and who they vote for. It's a very receptive audience."

As a journalist, Richert reported on the end result of policy decisions. Now she wants to understand more about the context in which those decisions are made.

"Joe Soss' course on the politics of public affairs was very eye-opening," Richert says. "I really want to hone in on the politics that surround environmental policy during the next year."

PoliGraph can be found as part of MPR's politics blog, Polinaut, at http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/polinaut/.

Master of Public Policy student Catharine Richert is PoliGraph's lead reporter. She is an experienced journalist who previously reported for PolitiFact.com and Congressional Quarterly.

PoliGraph can be found as part of MPR's politics blog, Polinaut, at http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/polinaut/.

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