What We Do

Guiding Principles

For too long, some Michigan politicians and activists have stretched the truth, broken faith with citizens, and ignored the consequences of their rhetoric. The result is undue mistrust in our politics, politics that are ultimately controlled by citizens ‒ ideally, informed citizens like you who take the time to learn about issues and the people who represent them in our democracy.

Truth Squad is a fact-checking reporting project of Bridge Magazine and The Center for Michigan. Our aim is to identify questionable claims by candidates, elected officials and others in the political realm and determine their accuracy. Each analysis is produced by a team of editors and reporters with experience in politics, policy and current events.

In 2018, when every statewide Michigan office, and every House and Senate seat, is up for grabs, holding politicians accountable for their statements is more critical than ever. Truth Squad will comb speeches, interviews, advertisements, social media messaging and news releases. Send us a tip to help us identify questionable claims and expand our watchdog efforts.

We are guided by the following considerations:

Nonpartisanship ‒ We will dispassionately identify and rate the accuracy of claims by candidates, political action committees, lobbyists, party leaders and activists across the political spectrum. Our analysis will focus on factual assertions, not political beliefs. We will review Republicans as closely as Democrats, and allow the criticisms to fall where they may.

Context ‒ We will call out claims that may be technically true but leave out important facts or circumstances that render the claim misleading. We will factor in whether a remark was made with deliberation or off the cuff, based on facts as they were known at the time. We will ignore remarks about minor items, and focus on issues of importance to the people of Michigan.

Burden of proof ‒ The burden of proving a statement’s accuracy wrests with the speaker or organization. As part of our research, Truth Squad will aggressively seek to verify claims with the source. A campaign’s refusal or inability to provide such evidence should be treated with suspicion.

Methodology

Truth Squad searches ads, speeches, interviews, emails and other communications for political statements based on facts. We also depend on readers like you to alert us to potentially untruthful or misleading remarks or writings.

If supporting material or other factors raise questions about a claim, we will assign a reporter to investigate further. We rely on primary sources such as legislative records, government economic and campaign data, quotes from previous news articles and our own research on policy issues in Michigan. Truth Squad will hyperlink to source material and references so readers can see for themselves how we reach our conclusions. We also rely on the wisdom of acknowledged experts in the field, with an emphasis on seeking diverse viewpoints from trustworthy sources.

The reporting is checked line by line by an editor, then reviewed by a second editor, for accuracy and word choice and to identify gaps in the reporter’s analysis to ensure it is supported by the available evidence.

Corrections

Truth Squad is not infallible. When we get it wrong, we quickly correct or update our reporting in the original article. If new material comes to light that changes our analysis we will clarify, update, or correct our story as warranted.

If you believe we have made a mistake, you can contact the reporter or editors, whose emails and phone numbers are listed. We also encourage you to post comments to the article, or on the Bridge Facebook or Twitter pages.