A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this nonpartisan site methodically dissects American politics for high school students. The impressive articles and useful analysis may be too in-depth for some young teens, but the educational branch of the site for students and teachers helps breaks things down better. Funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation, the site has no ads and receives no money from businesses, unions, political parties, organizations, or private donors.
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What's it about?
During election season, TV programs become awash in political advertising. With emotionally-charged music and images and dramatic voiceovers, these ads can be quite compelling. That is until you look at the facts behind the melodrama. But sorting through news reports, candidate Web sites, and editorials can be a lengthy process. That's where FACTCHECK.ORG comes in handy. This 2008 Webby Award-winning site provides daily analysis of U.S. political players, monitoring factual accuracy of what's said on TV and in debates, speeches, and interviews through detailed articles that provide both a summary and lengthy study of a specific subject. FactCheckEd, the educational section, interprets political lingo and catch phrases, and has a dictionary and a resource which helps kids sift through other sites by identifying them as partisan, public, or general.
Is it any good?
Like a breath of fresh air, FactCheck.org cuts through the political mudslinging and propaganda to provide real, factual information about the abstract claims made by political candidates. Just the Facts is a CNN-esque video report that dissects timely topics such as the creative video editing of campaign ads. With young correspondents and a clean look, the videocasts judiciously use news clips and commentary, making the videos easy to watch and understand. This is probably the department most accessible to kids.
Ask FactCheck is also a clever timely feature and allows visitors to ask the site's staff questions about the political campaign. As far as Web designs go, FactCheck is nicely organized and easy to navigate. It doesn't overwhelm the user with too many features, but instead presents deliberately detailed analysis that's hard to find these days.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why a site like this is needed. Why is it better to go to a nonpartisan site for reliable information? Why do you think FactCheck.org doesn't run ads or accept funding from political parties or businesses? Families can try watching a political ad on TV and conduct their own analysis. What images were used in the ad? How did they make you feel? What music was played? What claims did the ad make about the candidate? Are they specific or general?