The move to even shorter news cycles can only mean one thing: less time to check the facts.
I don’t envy those reporting on Brexit or the US Presidential campaign, where you’re always one step behind; broadcast news often lags even further behind.
I’ve been a fact-checker for business publications where you’re often running up against a tight deadline, but that’s nothing compared to live interviews for broadcast news.
Politicians get to express opinions that quickly gain traction, before we can decide if what they say is true.
Statistics are misquoted and by time facts are checked, the debate has moved on. Claims that the EU costs the UK over £350 million every week, become part of the debate around Brexit.
Whether it’s true or not, who knows or cares? Only the fact-checkers and reporting the truth often gets ignored. Finding a hole in an argument or countering a claim is fundamentally less interesting than scaremongering.
In America, they’ve got professional teams, such as FactCheck.org, dedicated to fact checking the claims by Presidential candidates. Here in Scotland we saw a number of similar sites pop up during the Independence Referendum. But in the end, it’s the job of the journalist to check – and for that I don’t envy them.