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What’s With the Rise of “Fact-Based Journalism”?

By Philip M. Napoli and Asa Royal for Nieman Lab

Here’s a term you may be hearing with increasing frequency: “Fact-based journalism.” The Associated Press uses it in fund-raising appeals, as does ProPublica, and our local NPR affiliate. The National Association of Broadcasters and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting both describe themselves as purveyors of “fact-based journalism” in their public relations materials.

Even news outlets with an overtly partisan bent employ some variation of the term. The right-leaning The Dispatch, for instance, describes itself as a source of “fact-based conservative news.” The U.S. Agency for International Development uses the term as a guiding concept for its media development work.

When and why did this term rise to prominence? We did a keyword search of “fact-based journalism” in NewsBank, a news repository of over 12,000 sources, for the years 1990 through 2023.

As the graph below indicates, usage of the term ballooned starting in 2016 and saw a big spike in 2021. And as the graph also indicates, the term “fact-based journalism” was rarely used prior to the early 2000s.

For more, click here.

Photo by <a href=”″>Stockcake</a>

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