Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Does such a thing exist in Norway?

If you're following the US election race at all, you've probably noticed that media actually reports on the factual content of the statements and claims being made by the candidates. Websites like FactCheck.org - a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization - play a crucial role in providing media with comparison of statements to published facts. Check this out from the mission statement of FactCheck.org:

"We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation."


This is AWESOME, and something which I feel is sorely lacking in Norwegian media. Hopefully not the next VP Sarah Palin probably curses websites and organizations like this every night before she falls asleep - her claims of being an expert at energy policy, which were immediately followed by her claim of Alaska being reponsible for more than 20% of the US energy production kinda missed the mark. Alaska contributes around 3.5%, and the publication of this fact alone sort of negated both her statements. Really cool.

Does something like this exist in Norway? 'Cause with an election coming up next year, it'd be FANTASTIC to be able to follow the factual content every time (and there will be many such occasions) some politician opts not to answer a question in a debate but rather resorts to Ye Olde, time-tested "Our party - the Douchebag Coalition - proposed this already back in 1099".

12 comments:

Anders said...

"Chickety-check yo' facts before you..."

It would have been great if Norway had something like that, but I haven't heard about such a thing. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it either.

First let me just say that I would love something like a Norwegian factcheck. So basically we need a foundation that will fund the whole thing, since such organisation must "accept NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals", because credibility is crucial. And since Norwegian politicans has just as high BS factor as their US counterparts, it requires a lot of resources to check all the facts.

The reason why we do not have such an organisation in Norway, might be because the political debate/ campaigns are different here. In the US, it's more attack on personal character and history of the politicans, while in Norway, it's more focused on the history of the parties and how they have voted in the past (though it the focus on person rather then issue seem to increase here in Norway). And I do believe that it is easier to check how the parties voted in the past, rather to look into some old personal baggage and verify that.

Anders said...

Man, I can't seem to keep it short. What I meant to say: Yes, I love to have FactCheck in Norway, but I can't see who's going to sponsor it.

Wilhelm said...

LOL...can't go wrong with an Ice Cube reference, can you?

As for who's going to sponsor it, I see the point. One would need someone with deep pocket to front some cash and get a foundation going.

The word on the street is that you made out like a bandit on the salary negotiations this year though; maybe you could get the ball rollin'? :-)

Wilhelm said...

With regards to your analysis of the trend in Norway being a bigger focus on the voting history of the parties, I at least partly agree.

However, if one politician for example stated on several separate occasions in no uncertain terms that if the kindergarten capacity was not 100% within a certain date, she would resign politics only to laugh it off and deny "having meant that" when the government of which she was part predictably failed in attaining that goal, one could use such an organization to get rid of said politician. In this (not so) hypothetical case, the nation could only benefit from the loss keeping her promises would entail

Anders said...

However, if one politician for example stated on several separate occasions in no uncertain terms that if the kindergarten capacity was not 100% within a certain date

Totally agree, but I file this under "case" rather then person. And again, this is a really simple thing to check for journalists (and are there really anybody out there that doesn't see this case as a fail?) But it is a good example of what Norwegian FactCheck could do: Publish the written material where the party says 100% kindergarten capasity within such date, and upload the press conference(?) where the politcian says she will resign her position if that goal isn't met. Of course she still would say "she meant to say...", but at least she can claim to be qouted out of context or similar.

As I said, the BS factor is just as big in Norway, the only difference is that the US is more focused on personal character.

Anders said...

The word on the street is that you made out like a bandit on the salary negotiations this year

You are very streetwise, my friend.

maybe you could get the ball rollin'?

Yeah, so if I can find somebody willing to work for deposit fee on empty bottles, we'll have this party rolling in no time.

Wilhelm said...

Of course she still would say "she meant to say...", but at least she can claim to be qouted out of context or similar.

...actually; this is the first time I've ever heard a politician promise something in very certain terms, both with respect to time frame and the actual measurable. The fact that she failed to live up to such definitive a promise really tells you something about this particular politician.

Specifically, it tells me that her level of trustworthiness is far below average for a politician. Which in turn means that if she were to introduce herself to me, I'd have to see some ID to confirm that the name she gave me really was hers.

You are very streetwise, my friend.

...when you hang out on the tough streets of academia, you pick up certain things......

With regards to who would finance such an organization; it would greatly benefit pretty much all the media corporations to have access to facts like this. And seeing as how the journalists are too lazy or too busy to look it up themselves, it would definitely be in their own interest to put money into such an endeavor.

Anders said...

this is the first time I've ever heard a politician promise something in very certain terms, both with respect to time frame and the actual measurable.

Yes, I was actually pleasantly surprised when I first heard that. Way to go, this is something more politicans should do.

The fact that she failed to live up to such definitive a promise really tells you something about this particular politician.

Agreed. It was an extra dissapointment, since the promis was so measurable and the consequences so clear.

It doesn't really matter that it would be stupid of her to resign, that it was a stupid goal (unless your have an ridiculous over capacity, there will never be 100%), or that the party actually did a good job of building new kindergartens.

The thing is: She didn't keep her promise. And this was in probably the most important issue for this party, which they used heavily in their election campaign and in goverment. Not some minor issue they could have reach a compromise on. So, a major dissapointment there.

Torbjørn said...

We have Martin Kolberg. What else could we possible need?

Wilhelm said...

LOL...the very fact that we do indeed have Martin Kolberg is one of the compelling arguments for having such an organization in the first place. Exhibit A if you will.

And seriously; if it turned out that Kolberg was a robot; would anyone be surprised?

Anders said...

And seriously; if it turned out that Kolberg was a robot; would anyone be surprised

Yes, I would. Robots (as toys and mechanical workers) all have a certain charm to them. Next to Kolberg, even Vendela Kirsebom look as expressive as Jim Carrey.

Wilhelm said...

......but beauty comes from within...Vendela says so