UW-Madison research is shedding some light on just what people are learning from the news, and how it’s presented can change their views.

Journalism professor Mike Wagner says while most news stories usually present both sides of a political view, fact checks break that rule. 

“Fact-checking says Governor Evers said this and it is or isn’t true, Speaker Vos that this and that it is or isn’t true. So it’s taking a side. It’s taking a side that they verify with transparently produced evidence.”

Wagner says that just a change in labelling can make a difference. 

“When a story is labeled a fact check people pay more attention to it and do a better job being able to say what the truth is then when the same story is presented to them but not labeled a fact check.”

The same research also shows that people also have a tendency to claim a story is more biased when it is labeled a fact check as well, but Wagner says that’s just how journalism tends to work in the digital age. 

“Most fact-checkers are basically trying to take newsworthy claims made by people in positions of power and seeing if they’re true or not so when one party has the presidency that side gets more scrutiny.”

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