The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University announced the recent launch of EconoFact, a website and newsletter designed to re-introduce facts into the current national debates over economic and social policies. Published by Fletcher’s Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World, EconoFact has enlisted more than 30 leading academic economists from across the country to succinctly explain the key data and other relevant facts that should influence policy decisions.
Michael Klein, the William L. Clayton Professor of International Economic Affairs at Fletcher, assembled the bipartisan EconoFact network in the weeks following the presidential election. The network has continued to expand as more and more economists are alarmed by how the angry divisions between Republicans and Democrats, globalists and nationalists, and the many groups in between threaten to undermine rational policy-making.
These economists have been eager to contribute to this project and to provide civic engagement at a time of potentially great change,” said Klein, noting that many of the participants had served in government or policy positions, as well as being distinguished researchers and teachers. Klein himself has served as a senior economist at the US Treasury Department and at the Federal Reserve.
Following a soft launch over the past weekend, more than 25,000 people have explored the EconoFact site, and its Facebook and Twitter followings are growing rapidly, demonstrating public demand for factual data around these issues.
"The emotions and distrust are such today that many of us often find ourselves sticking to our instinctual biases, ignoring the data,” said Edward Schumacher-Matos, Director of The Murrow Center for a Digital World. “But Americans are overwhelmingly people of goodwill, and want to have a rational debate.”
“If we can get away from the name-calling and have people at least be on the same page about the facts, we might be able to bridge many of our differences, not to mention make sound and successful policies,” he said.
Prior to his time at Fletcher, Schumacher-Matos was a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal, a foreign correspondent for The New YorkTimes and ombudsman at National Public Radio (NPR).
To emphasize the explanatory nature of EconoFact, posts follow a memo format in which the first two sections lay out the issue and the relevant facts, often accompanied by charts or graphics. Instead of bending the facts—or inventing false ones—to their values, the economists in the EconoFact network seek to be rigorously transparent between where real fact ends and judgment begins, allowing citizens to apply their own judgment.
EconoFact represents a growing trend by American universities and non-profit institutions to fill the gap created by declining resources and fewer journalists available to comprehensively cover the increasing number of complex national and international issues. It also represents a growing effort by many universities to make a greater real-world impact by informing current policy debate with timely, accurate research.
The first five articles in the digital publication reflect the breadth of subjects EconoFact will cover. They are:
- “Will Manufacturing Jobs Come Back,” by Professor David Deming of Harvard University
- “Should the United States Build a Wall on the Mexican Border to Reduce Unauthorized Immigration,” by Professor Jennifer Hunt of Rutgers University
- “Charter School: The Michigan Experience and the Limits on the Federal Role,” by Professor Nora Gordon of Georgetown University
- “House GOP Plan Aims to Boost Competitiveness, Might Also Violate Trade Law,” by Professor Joel Trachtman of The Fletcher School
- “Is the Trade Deficit a Drag on Growth,” by Professor Menzie D. Chinn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Professor Klein of The Fletcher School
Additional posts will tackle topics like Chinese currency manipulation, the war on coal, the possibility of sustained rapid economic growth, the impact of a strong dollar, and what “rent seeking” means and its costs to ordinary Americans.
A full list of participating economists is available here. Outside submissions are considered, as well. Klein and Schumacher-Matos serve as co-executive editors. Managing editor Miriam Wasserman is a Fletcher alumna and economic journalist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
About The Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World
Inaugurated by U.S. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, The Murrow Center was established in 1965 in honor of Edward R. Murrow’s distinguished reporting, incisive analysis of world news, and innovative leadership of the United States Information Agency.
For five decades, The Murrow Center has built upon the idea of public diplomacy, examining the dimensions of international relations beyond traditional methods. These include the roles of major players such as the news and entertainment media, multinational corporations, and nongovernmental organizations.
The Center today is a leader in digital studies. The focus is on analyzing the changing flows of digital information across borders, as well as the impact of those rapidly shifting changes on diplomacy, the news media and global order. In addition to its intellectual mission, the Murrow Center teaches popular, practical communications skills to students. Faculty and visitors offer classes, workshops and mentoring in multimedia skills such as opinion writing, video, podcasts and user-friendly web design.
About The Fletcher School
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University—the first exclusively graduate school of international affairs in the United States—has prepared the world’s leaders to tackle complex global challenges since 1933. The School’s alumni represent the highest levels of leadership in the world, including hundreds of sitting ambassadors, respected voices from distinguished media outlets and institutions, heads of global non-profit organizations, and executive leadership of some of the world’s largest for-profit companies. The Fletcher School offers a collaborative, flexible and interdisciplinary approach to the study of international affairs, featuring a distinguished faculty and diverse student body representing more than half the world’s countries.
The Fletcher School awards professional degrees, including a two-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD); a one-year Master of Arts for mid-career professionals; a one-year, mid-career combined Internet-mediated/residential Global Master of Arts (GMAP); a Ph.D. program; a Master of Arts in International Business (MIB); and a Master of Laws in International Law (LL.M.)—as well as joint degrees, summer school and certificate programs.