Bridge is doubling down on politics and changing how we fact-check claims

Joel Kurth is managing editor of Bridge Magazine.

Election season is upon us, as Michigan’s March 10 presidential primary is six weeks away. As always, Bridge Magazine is committed to nonpartisan, fact-based reporting that cuts through the noise and hyperbole that are ubiquitous in politics.

Today, we are launching a series of weekly stories leading to the primary on how proposals from Democratic presidential contenders would affect Michigan. Because President Trump faces only token opposition, Bridge is not examining Republican proposals before the primary but will in advance of the Nov. 3 general election. 

This coverage marks a commitment to deeper, ongoing reporting on campaigns for federal offices than in previous years at Bridge. 

Michigan will play a crucial role in the presidential election, and we are dedicated to ensuring our residents are as informed as possible. In February, we will publish the Michigan Fact Guide that examines key issues in Michigan. In early March, Bridge will publish a voter guide shortly before the primary.

All year, we will fact-check political ads and assertions from candidates and their proxies in a feature that debuts today (Monday) called Michigan Fact Squad.

You may remember it in previous years as Michigan Truth Squad. The name change is more than cosmetic. It reflects an acknowledgment that “truth” can be elusive in life and especially in politics. 

In 2018, during Michigan’s gubernatorial election, Bridge sometimes struggled to discern the truthfulness of ads, especially those that strung together a series of indisputable facts to reach a subjective, often charged, conclusion. 

Were those ads true? False? Misleading? In many cases, the answer depended on the bias of the viewer or voter.

Truth may be subjective, but facts aren’t. 

The new Michigan Fact Squad will still subject political advertisements and rhetoric to the same intense scrutiny and weighing of facts. It still will call out lies, correct misstatements and praise candidates for telling the truth. 

But it will no longer conclude with a “call” characterizing ads as false or misleading. Too often, doing so required subjective judgment that is better left to readers.

This is a change we don’t take lightly, as the Truth Squad was one of our more popular features. But it’s one we feel is important to remain Michigan’s news leader for unbiased, fact-based journalism.

Please let us know what you think.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Comments

Steven B
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 8:51am

They already collect plenty enough money to fix the roads they simply want more money to rob from us Michiganders. We are fed up with them taxing us more and more and never doing what they are suppose to. The most irresponsible people in this world is everyone in our government.

David Waymire
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 10:06am

Steven, you need to read this report. It is true, we could cut support for education, cities, housing criminals, environmental oversight and a lot of other things to afford the billions needed to fix our roads. But if you don't want to cut out all of those things, we need additional revenue to fix our roads. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/snyder/21st_Century_Infrastructure_Co...

duane
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 4:45pm

David,
I am one they encourages accountability for programs and agencies, can you share how you would hold government accountable for the their spending? I can understand how they government could spend more money, but one of the reasons we got the Headlee Amendment was because we were getting the same calls for more and more of other people's money for government spending, but the projected results weren't being delivered. How can you be so sure that increasing taxes will deliver the claimed results, the desired results, the needed results?

Bones
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 1:05pm

Michigan's taxes are cartoonishly low, and we very clearly don't have the money. You turkeys scream over and over that the magic money is there, but you can never point to where it is in the budget

Ojttocs
Thu, 02/06/2020 - 10:00am

Yeah but Texas property taxes are 20 %, their sales close to 8.5% and their roads are amazing. Just saying.

Gerry Kramer
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 9:06am

I really like your coverage and commitment to finding the facts.

Joel Kurth
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 5:08pm

Thank you so much! We appreciate the support.

Joyce Kowatch
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 9:39am

Thank you. I count on your publication as one of my sources for facts. Keep up this important work. The check will be in the mail after tax season. P.S. I am willing to pay more in taxes and tolls to fix the damn roads. It is important to Michigan.

Joel Kurth
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 5:08pm

Thank you so much. We truly appreciate your support.

AdaGramp
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 10:56am

I like this new emphasis, although I’ve appreciated the Truth Squad approach as well. This change reinforces the unbiased approach Bridge strives for. Certainly more objective than any of the left- or right-leaning media, and addresses Michigan issues much more clearly than other in-state media.

Kathy
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 11:38am

I am disappointed that you will be fact checking only Democratic contenders, including token candidates. Republican contenders should also be fact checked. Why should they not be scrutinized? All are running to be our president and all should be held accountable for what they say.

Why are there so many spelling errors in your stories?

Joel Kurth
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 3:54pm

Hi ... to be clear we are fact checking Democrats and republicans alike

Our issue coverage will focus first on Democrats leading to the primary because Trump faces token opposition, but we will fact check ads from all sides starting now.

As for the spelling mistakes, we have hired a full-time copy editor in an effort to minimize any errors.

Thanks for reading!

duane
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 11:59am

To be consistent across 'Squad' members assessments and across issues/reports has Bridge established some guidelines identifying what factors to addressed in each assessment and questions to answer?. If so, would it be possible to share such guidance with readers to help us better frame how we read the related articles, and help readers put the reporting into context?

I have developed over the years how I frame reading articles, these reading Bridges guidelines could help me reassess how I look at election issues and candidates, please share how Bridge is ensuring your means of

duane
Wed, 01/29/2020 - 8:57pm

The thundering silence from Bridge on question of consistence across reporting shouts a lot about commitment to fairness and accuracy. If it were any other profession or industry I expect Bridge/reporters would be wanting to know how an organization could ensure the best effort to protect the public, but it doesn't seem to be a concern when it is about themselves.
Bridge seems to think that their political credibility [by posting this article on their new emphasis 'truth' and how the change is more then cosmetic], if Bridge/editors/reports/Truth Squad haven't though about consistency, fairness, and even accuracy from the readers' perspective, I wonder why they haven't asked readers for their though on those issues and how they might approach establishing guidelines to build reader trust. It is the Center for Michigan publication so they set the standards and it is let to the readers to accept them or move on.

JoelKurth
Thu, 02/06/2020 - 10:47pm

Hi Duane:

Thanks for your question. I am sorry that I have just now noticed it. Yes, we have given a great deal of thought to how we fact check claims, as well as which statements we fact-check — as subjecting an ad or a statement to scrutiny is in and of itself a subjective exercise.

The short answer is that our starting point is major candidate ads that have an assertion that can be checked or verified. Ads that portray Jane Doe before an American flag saying she loves America, for instance, won’t be fact-checked. But the same ad that includes assertions that she has never missed a vote and her opponent never voted would be fact-checked.

That is the quick answer. If you are interested in other factors that weigh our decision, I’d be happy to talk at 586-306-4708 or jkurth@bridgemi.com.

Thanks again

Tam
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 2:54pm

Awesome! very very tired of the lies and half truths which fuel so much negativity. Would like to see a comparison of the democratic and republican stands on major issues without the subjective responses before 'just before the primary'. Please keep it black and white - "The truth will set us free"

MY PERSONAL INF...
Wed, 01/29/2020 - 9:37am

I read, paraphrase, and donate to your publication because I know it is factual. It doesn’t lean in one way or the other. We need that as a society. As social media became stronger and stronger, I could feel myself being influenced by their so-called news. I feel like we are reading The National Inquirer and citing the stories as factual, investigated, news. More and more CEO’s of websites/apps state they will not censor comments, and the reader should be savvy enough to fact-check for themselves. How is the average citizen to know who to trust? Come back Cronkright and Brinkley........

Claudette
Thu, 01/30/2020 - 11:31am

Thank you,

Vassilis
Thu, 01/30/2020 - 3:45pm

This is wonderful. Misinformation is a true threat right now and I'm reassured to see Bridge Magazine take on the false noise in our democracy.

Ojttocs
Thu, 02/06/2020 - 9:58am

This is a mistake. Of course Trump is running. He's already trying to manipulate the Dem primary. You're giving him a pass in order to encourage what he calls the "circular firing squad." When he weighs in in statements to the effect that they're doing it again to Bernie Sanders -- this is why you're here!! Fulfill your mission, Bridge. Don't let the longest president in history off the hook because no one is running against him. Stop letting him thrive in a fact free world while Dems struggle through their primary. Doing that IS bias.