Members of the SCAM team have published a new, open access article this month in Digital Journalism. Entitled “From Public Reason to Public Health: Professional Implications of the “Debunking Turn” in the Global Fact-Checking Field“, this article argues that there has been a ‘dramatic shift in focus’ away from traditional political fact-checking since 2016. It explores what this shift means for fact-checkers, analyzing data from 1) qualitative interviews with fact-checkers and 2) metajournalistic discourse (including published accounts and conference transcripts), as informed by 3) observation of Global Fact meetings.
The paper highlights different discursive strategies fact-checkers use to explain the debunking turn, depending on their own field position, and show how shifting boundaries reflect wider concerns about autonomy from platform partners. Authors Lucas Graves, Valérie Bélair-Gagnon, and Rebekah Larsen suggest that debunking discourse illustrates an incipient shift away from the “public reason” model implicit in journalism’s professional logic, to a more instrumental, “public health” model of newswork adapted to a digital media environment dominated by platform companies.