So What Exactly Am I Doing in DC?

Cheers from Washington, DC! I’m here as a Visiting Scholar at the independent research centre and think tank The Woodrow Wilson Center. There are lots of proper academics here, but also plenty of us journos. Most journalists I’ve met here are working on hefty book projects.

The Wilson Center is located in the Ronald Reagan Building, which is the second largest federal building in DC, after the Pentagon. It’s very easy to get lost inside it.

My project here is called ‘Methods of Digital Fact-Checking and Online Verification’, and this blog post is here to explain to you what exactly that entails.

I’ve divided my interests into four categories:

1) The emerging international movement in political fact-checking.

2) The tradition of fact-checkers in US newspapers and magazines.

3) Verification of social content on the web & the new digital tools that help you do it.

4) Possible uses for automation and algorithms in fact-checking and verification.

I am now halfway down my four-month scholarship. So far I’ve been concentrating on getting interviews from experts in the various aspects of fact-checking and reading up on academic research and books on the topic.

I reckon that deepening my knowledge about these topics should be enough work for four months, so I’ve given up on my original (damn nigh impossible) idea of writing an all-encompassing monster of a thing about it. (Like one of these, for example.)

Instead I’m writing several more concise pieces, such as my biweekly blog for the Finnish public broadcaster YLE. It’s called the Lie Detector (Valheenpaljastaja) and it deals with fact and fiction in the news and social media. Topics so far have been viral lies, fake news, and the rise of political fact-checking as a global movement.

More anon.


DC Metro has a brutalist charm that appeals to me.


About Johanna Vehkoo

Journo, speaker, fact-checker. Formerly Visiting Scholar at Wilson Center, Washington DC, and Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University. Wrote a book about the future of quality journalism. Founder of award-winning startup Long Play. Blogs in both Finnish and English.
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