Fact-checking journalism is the heart of PolitiFact. Our core principles are independence, transparency, fairness, thorough reporting and clear writing. The reason we publish is to give citizens the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy.

Since our launch in 2007, we’ve received many questions about how we choose facts to check, how we stay nonpartisan, how we go about fact-checking and other topics. This document attempts to answer those questions and many more.

How PolitiFact started
Our ownership
Our partner websites
Our funding
Our ethics policy for PolitiFact journalists
How we choose claims to fact-check
Our on-the-record sourcing
How we determine Truth-O-Meter ratings
How we determine Flip-O-Meter ratings
How we track campaign promises
How we correct our mistakes
How to support us
How to contact us

How PolitiFact started

PolitiFact started in 2007 as an election-year project of the Tampa Bay Times (then named the St. Petersburg Times), Florida’s largest daily newspaper.

From the beginning, PolitiFact focused on looking at specific statements made by politicians and rating them for accuracy. PolitiFact is run by the editors and journalists who make up the PolitiFact team. No one tells us what to write about or how to rate statements. We do so independently, using our news judgment.

Our ownership

PolitiFact is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies. PolitiFact had been owned by the Tampa Bay Times, but in 2018 direct ownership of PolitiFact was transferred from the Times to Poynter, which is the newspaper’s parent company. The move allows PolitiFact to function fully as not-for-profit national news organization.

The ties between the Poynter Institute and the Tampa Bay Times go back decades. The longtime owner of the Times was Nelson Poynter, whose father had bought the newspaper in 1912. Poynter championed independent journalism and wanted to ensure that the newspaper remain locally owned and protected from chain ownership. So upon his death in 1978, he left the newspaper not to his heirs, but to the school for journalists that now bears his name.

Nelson Poynter was also the founder of Congressional Quarterly, a news organization covering Congress in Washington, D.C., that the Poynter Institute owned until 2009. PolitiFact now continues the Poynter Institute’s historical connection to Washington-based political journalism.

Control of both the the Poynter Institute and the Tampa Bay Times lie with a single executive. Upon retirement, that leader picks a successor. Poynter himself picked Eugene Patterson, who picked Andrew Barnes, who picked the Times‘ current chairman and CEO, Paul Tash, a lifelong journalist.

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