Annual Report of Fact Checker to the stakeholders in Duke University

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Please scroll down: there are three more Saturday morning posts. An update on the Potti Mess, and a guest FC from a faculty member concerned about Duke's budget.

✔✔ Good day, fellow Dukies, this is Fact Checker. Probative. Provocative.

July 1 marked the start of a new academic and fiscal year at Duke, and arbitrarily we have picked this date for our first annual report to Loyal Readers.

During the past year, FC has exploded. This summer, Monday through Friday, we are consistently getting more than 1,100 hits a day, which is three times the number a year ago. We have reason to believe that Dukes are not only reading, they are responding.

There is frequently a "buzz" about our posts, which causes a spike in readership. One particularly pungent story about Dr. Anil Potti got more than 3,000 hits, a record.

We regularly see readers arrive at our site from 11 countries around the world, so we are Global Fact Checker too! In the past year, readers from 37 countries checked in. And one oddity we cannot explain: even though we post around 2 AM usually, the heaviest traffic to our website comes around 9 PM.

Loyal Readers, thank you!

✔✔✔ We also owe a great big thank you to the people who wrote us with tips, who trusted us with confidential information, and offered editorial suggestions. As Dukies surely realize, particularly in the atmosphere generated by the current administration, there are risks to the person or persons who leaked documents like the Trustee briefing papers on Kunshan or the committee reports that led the Fuqua faculty to reject two proposed degrees. Those documents illuminated the folly of Kunshan and engendered the current campus debate about whether Duke should continue its current course.

FC -- as every stakeholder -- is deeply indebted to the leakers.

Loyal Readers who want to send in material can do so with our promise of total confidence. Create an anonymous Google mail account if you wish. Our precautions include deleting e-mail containing tips. And when requested, we have not quoted directly from documents, lest the administration try to trace what version we have.

While we have profited from the flow of information from Loyal Readers, we regret that the Brodhead Administration has continued to try to shut us out. Mr. Wagoner, Mr. Brodhead, Mr. Schoenfeld, wake up; your tactic is not working and indeed is proving deleterious to your tenure.

In the coming months, we are going to start some limited advertising of our blog, keeping its URL in front of potential readers, rather than relying on word-of-mouth (as excellent as the recommendations are) or per chance discovery through a search engine.

We will be expanding our editorial content. Hopefully by the August start of the new semester, we intend to have a new web presence, to make it easier for you to navigate through our stories and to post essays from Loyal Readers with the same prominence as our own. We may invite some to become "regulars." And we will have an open message board for people to share their views on what we write.

We are considering starting coverage of Duke athletics, probably avoiding football and basketball initially, and giving new exposure to events like swimming, fencing and all the rest. This probably won't begin until January, 2012.

This past year, we tested Fact Checker Two, a compilation of shorter items of interest, rather than our in-depth essays; we did not get the result we hoped for, and have put this idea on the back shelf, although we believe it has long term merit as FC becomes a more comprehensive service.

For the first time, we have a strategic plan for our coverage.
Or as some clowns who attack FC might say, an agenda. In the coming year we are going to pound on the following:

✔ #1) Aycock dorm is named for a terrorist who fomented a race riot that killed as many as 100 blacks in Wilmington, NC. Duke has no business honoring this person.

✔ #2) We have a memorial to the six Dukies who happened to be in the World Trade Center on 9-11 (the memorial was temporarily moved because of Keohane Quad construction), and the Alumni Department lays a wreath each year. But our campus does not honor the three Dukies who were shot to death and others who were wounded as they stood for civil rights in Greensboro, NC. Yes, the Dukies were Communists, but let's remember this university not only respects but engenders open debate and free speech by everyone. A political affilation that we may not agree with is no reason to bar a memorial to these murder victims, shot by the KKK and a Nazi group.

✔ #3) We believe the Kunshan campus is a horrible idea, and will work to keep you informed, with the goal of Duke's abandoning this folly.

✔ #4) We believe administrators have too much control over Duke, at the expense of the faculty in particular and alumni in general, not to mention the frequent shafting of the students. From the FC perspective, this control is maintained by intimidation and by throttling the flow of information. We pledge tirelessly to work for more transparency, and with it, more accountability in the governance of the university. This is true with regard to finances, as well as policy.

✔ #5) Mostly, on a day by day basis, with new posts typically going up around 2 AM, we pledge to dig deep, to bring you coverage you see nowhere else, and to be FC. Probative. Provocative.

Thank you for reading, for your input, and for sharing your love of Duke.

FC and the Deputies

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We hope with transfer to a new website in the near future to have open discussion. FC also welcomes Guest FC columns, a complete essay that will be posted just like our own.