Bill Adair, founder of the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact website, will speak at Warren Wilson College’s 2019 Commencement on Saturday, May 11, 2019.
“Warren Wilson is a special place that encourages students to be open to new ideas and all points of view,” Adair said. “I look forward to joining the Wilson community to honor the class of 2019 and discuss how we can build on the lessons the students have learned in the last four years.”
Adair is currently the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, where he conducts research on fact-checking in the Reporter’s Lab, experimenting with new ways of presenting fact-based information through digital and mobile technologies.
Adair launched PolitiFact as a pilot project for the Tampa Bay Times in 2007. The website grew into the largest fact-checking effort of all time, with affiliates in 18 states and Australia. PolitiFact has served as a model for fact-checking around the world and is known for rating officials’ public statements for fact on a scale called the “Truth-O-Meter.” The PolitiFact team was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009.
“Bill Adair’s journalistic integrity and his leadership in the practice of fact-checking have provided much-needed tools to bridge what feel like impossible chasms in our national conversations today,” Warren Wilson College President Dr. Lynn M. Morton said. “Dedication to truth and willingness to consider other points of view are two values we encourage our students to build in themselves.”
Dialogue across difference has been one of President Morton’s initiatives at the College. Every year, the whole campus gathers to hold deliberative dialogues – a curriculum designed to ensure that all viewpoints are heard on a controversial topic. The College also holds a series of trainings and workshops to embed deliberative dialogue skills into the campus culture.
Adair writes about accountability in journalism and digital media. He has published articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Poynter, and the Nieman Journalism Lab. He is also founder of a global association of fact checkers called the International Fact-Checking Network.
Adair built his journalism career as a reporter and editor for the Tampa Bay Times for 24 years. From 1997 onward, he was assigned to the Washington Bureau and covered Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House, aviation safety, and national politics. From 2004 to 2013, he served as the Washington Bureau Chief.
“We believe Mr. Adair’s presentation will be an excellent complement to the deliberative dialogue work we’ve been doing in the last two years, which emphasizes the need to focus on facts and data to promote healthy dialogue across differences,” said Dr. Paul Bartels, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Adair has received the Manship Prize for New Media in Democratic Discourse, the Everett Dirksen Award for Distinguished Coverage of Congress, and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award. He is the author of “The Mystery of Flight 427: Inside a Crash Investigation.”