WVU class fact-checks State of the State address

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (WDTV)-- Some students at West Virginia University spent their evening live fact-checking Governor Justice's State of the State address.

In a new partnership with Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization, the idea is to find the truth behind statements politicians make.

"This is not about catching politicians and getting things wrong. A big part of what we do is showing that a claim that a politician makes turns out to be accurate and that's important to democracy too," said Bob Britten, a teaching associate professor in the Reed College of Media.

Throughout his speech the students found about 20 checkable claims. Of the claims, some were found true, mostly true or false.

"He definitely had things that were accurate and some that were not. He also said a lot of things that we can't possibly fact-check because their his own opinions," said Louis Jacobson, a Sr. Correspondent of Politifact.

One of Justice's claims stated, "When I took office, our state was bankrupt."

"When he made the claim last night there was no such mitigation. He said we were bankrupt when he took office and the state wasn't. That claim doesn't scan, that doesn't track out," said Britten.

In a non-partisan way, the class is able to navigate through sources to find out if the claims are valid.

"We're non-partisan. We fact-check both sides," said Jacobson.

"They have to force themselves to pay attention. They have to force themselves to immerse themselves in the political world," said student, Emily Martin.

They say many aspects of his speech were things he's made claims about in the past, so comparing the claims were key.

"See how true, how false and how reliable the claims made by our highest elected official in the state actually turn out to be," said Britten.

Britten says they published 5 fact-checks from his speech last night and are working on about six more for the long term.