Wheat Ridge Engages Residents to "Check the Facts"

ARTICLE | Oct 11, 2016

Recently the Alliance for Innovation experimented with a new event format called the Innovation Lab. The Alliance Innovation Lab is a thought, solution, and experimentation workshop series that brings together leaders at all levels of local government from across the country looking to share, collaborate, and exchange ideas about a hot-topic challenge in local government. Unlike other workshops this series directly challenges attendees to try something new within their organizations! The first round of these labs occurred in a few select states across the U.S. and focused on the topic of Citizen Engagement.

During the Colorado Lab series of events, the City of Wheat Ridge, Colorado emerged as a leader in the area of including social equity in citizen engagement with their new “Fact Checker” website.

The Fact Checker is a location online where the Wheat Ridge community can find up-to-date information about the city of Wheat Ridge and its decisions, plans, policies, and projects. The goal is to correct misinformation and prevent misunderstandings, and at any time allows for the public to submit and/or review rumors. Thus far the City has dispelled four rumors including topics of streetscape projects, voting measures, lawsuits, and traffic and development projects

The site is modeled after a handful of cities across the country that have launched similar “rumor pages” over the course of the last year in an effort to correct misinformation and provide facts, documents, and public records in one place.

The reaction from city officials has been very positive. “The online “Fact Checker” has proven to be a great way to stay in front of rumors and correct misinformation before it can generate undo concern in the community,” said Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff. “The goal of the Fact Checker was to address rumors as quickly as possible to prevent misunderstanding and to establish the City as the most reliable source of information.”

Prior to engaging the community in Fact Checker, misinformation was shared by word of mouth. This made dispelling rumors difficult in part because it wasn’t possible to establish the source. Once misinformation began to be shared as fact, it was a challenge to turn the tide of public opinion about a project or plan.

The City plans to continue to utilize Fact Checker as an effective way to share reliable information. By placing the facts on the website, community members can easily access up-to-date information frequently. As different concerns arise, facts and information can also be shared quickly and efficiently on social media platforms with links to additional information on the website. Fact Checker provides one more way our community can affirm what they’ve heard or get factually correct information directly from City of Wheat Ridge elected officials and staff.  

Take a look at the Fact Checker

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