Africa Check

Organization: Africa Check
Applicant: Laura Kapelari
Assessor: Laurent Bigot
Conclusion and recommendations
on 15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago)

Laurent Bigot wrote:

According to my assessment, I think Africa Check should be accepted as a reliable fact-checking partner. This media is compliant with the large majority of the principles enacted by the IFCN.

The only points of uncertainty was that Africa Check doesn’t explain strictly the same rules in its French and English versions of its websites, especially about its corrections policy. It tends to prove that the Africa Check staff has updated with more details its English version since they started the assessment process.

I e-mailed Peter Cunliffe-Jones, from Africa Check about that and he explained to me that the website update was running and that all will be ok in a couple of days.

on 15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago)

Laurent Bigot recommended Accept


Section 1: Organization

Criterion 1a
Proof of registration
Evidence required: Please provide evidence that the signatory is a legally-registered organization set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking or the distinct fact-checking project of a recognized media house or research institution.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

Africa Check is registered as a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) in the UK and as a non-profit Trust in South Africa.

You can see our registration in the UK on this link. https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08119885

I will send copies of the statutes of association for both our UK and South African organisations by email to the IFCN.

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

Africa Check is a legally registered organization set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.

All the evidence of its legal registration are presented in the “About us” or “A propos” section here: https://africacheck.org/about-us/

The website executive director explains that “Africa Check is registered as a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) in the UK and as a non-profit Trust in South Africa”, and gives the UK registration link: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08119885

He sent copies of the statutes of association for both our UK and South African organizations by email to the IFCN.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Criterion 1b
Archive
Evidence required: Insert a link to the archive of fact checks published in the previous three months. If you do not collect all fact checks in one place, please explain how the fact-checking is conducted by your organization.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

All the reports going back to 2012 can be see on this link: https://africacheck.org/latest-reports/

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

Africa Check publishes reports about the accuracy of claims regularly. They have published several fact-checks a week for the last past three months. All their work, since 2012, is published here:

https://africacheck.org/latest-reports/

http://fr.africacheck.org/articles/


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Section 2: Nonpartisanship and Fairness

Criterion 2a
Body of work sample
Evidence required: Please share links to ten fact checks that better represent the scope and consistency of your fact-checking. Provide a short explanation of how your organization strives to maintain coherent standards across fact checks.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

Africa Check always attempts to fact-check both sides of a debate.

Examples include South Africa’s annual State of the Nation address, where we first fact-checked statements by President Jacob Zuma and then turned our attention to the ensuing debates.

1. Did Zuma get his #SoNA2016 facts straight?

https://africacheck.org/reports/did-zuma-get-his-sona2016-facts-straight/

2. Fact-checking the #SoNA2016 debates

https://africacheck.org/reports/fact-checking-the-sona2016-debates/

Another example from our archive is Africa Check’s coverage of the local government elections that took place in August. In turn, we fact-checked the manifestos of the three largest parties to contest the elections.

3. Is the ANC ‘advancing people’s power’? We fact-check key election claims

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-the-anc-advancing-peoples-power-we-fact-check-key-election-claims/

4. Is the EFF your ‘last hope for service delivery’? We evaluate their manifesto

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-the-eff-your-last-hope-for-service-delivery-we-evaluate-their-manifesto/

5. Does the DA create ‘change that moves SA forward’? We weigh up key claims

https://africacheck.org/reports/does-the-da-create-change-that-moves-sa-forward-we-weigh-up-key-claims/

As part of our health fact-checking, we researched claims from both industry and a health professional on the impact a proposed sugar tax could have on obesity and employment in South Africa.

6. SA’s proposed sugar tax: claims about calories & job losses checked

This report covered two claims - first relating to calorie intake (part of a debate over proposed tax changes)

https://africacheck.org/reports/sas-proposed-sugar-tax-claims-calories-job-losses-checked/

And the same report covered this claim

“This decline in [sales] volumes could result in 62,000-72,000 job losses, many of which will be in small-scale farms and spazas.”

7. Are South Africans the 8th highest sugar consumers in the world?

https://africacheck.org/reports/are-south-africans-sugar-consumption-8th-highest-in-the-world/

Africa Check is careful only to state the facts and does not advocate for any matter except the availability of quality data. This can be seen in our reports on nuclear energy, teenage pregnancy and drug use which are contentious issues in South African society.

8. Is nuclear energy really the ‘cheapest source of electricity’?

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-nuclear-energy-really-the-cheapest-source-of-electricity/

9. No evidence that teen pregnancies in Africa are rising as BBC headline said

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-nuclear-energy-really-the-cheapest-source-of-electricity/

10. Do 15% of SA’s population have a drug problem? We fact-check 4 ‘shocking stats’

https://africacheck.org/reports/do-15-of-s-africans-have-a-drug-problem-we-fact-check-4-shocking-drug-statistics/

EXPLANATION OF HOW WE MAINTAIN STANDARDS ACROSS FACT-CHECKS

We apply the same methodology to all our reports. The process is as follows:

START WITH THE CLAIM: We start every fact-checking report with the claim or claims someone has made. If the claim is made in a news report, the editor always seeks to verify with the speaker or their office exactly what was said and the context. We always seek to include a link at the top of the report to the statement, either a primary source or, if that is not possible, a secondary source that quotes from it, such as a media report.

CHECK THE EVIDENCE: Once the claim is established, the most important step is to find good reliable sources of evidence to check the claim against. This is evidence in the public domain that verifies or contradicts what has been said, data from a public database, the findings of academic studies, the opinion of established experts, or other sources. Our reports are typically based on primary sources – a recording, a transcript, a database or other verifiable primary source if possible. Secondary sources are used where necessary but only if properly checked and attributed.

REPORT WRITING: Our reports are written in a clear and easy-to-read style, avoiding jargon, unnecessary acronyms and specialist language. The report format is standardised to follow a set pattern – a headline that is easy-to- read and deliver the report’s conclusion; a body that sets out the claim we are investigating and a conclusion based on our finding. We also summarise the claim and the finding in table for easy reference.

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

Africa Check selects 10 fact-checks to prove scope and consistency of its work:

https://africacheck.org/reports/did-zuma-get-his-sona2016-facts-straight/

https://africacheck.org/reports/fact-checking-the-sona2016-debates/

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-the-anc-advancing-peoples-power-we-fact-check-key-election-claims/

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-the-eff-your-last-hope-for-service-delivery-we-evaluate-their-manifesto/

https://africacheck.org/reports/does-the-da-create-change-that-moves-sa-forward-we-weigh-up-key-claims/

https://africacheck.org/reports/sas-proposed-sugar-tax-claims-calories-job-losses-checked/

https://africacheck.org/reports/are-south-africans-sugar-consumption-8th-highest-in-the-world/

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-nuclear-energy-really-the-cheapest-source-of-electricity/

https://africacheck.org/reports/is-nuclear-energy-really-the-cheapest-source-of-electricity/

https://africacheck.org/reports/do-15-of-s-africans-have-a-drug-problem-we-fact-check-4-shocking-drug-statistics/

These examples show that Africa Check covers a variety of speakers (Jacob Zuma, EFF, DA, etc.) and that its fact-checks are non-partisan work.

The Africa Check team explains how they maintain standards across fact-checks:

“We apply the same methodology to all our reports. The process is as follows:

START WITH THE CLAIM: We start every fact-checking report with the claim or claims someone has made. If the claim is made in a news report, the editor always seeks to verify with the speaker or their office exactly what was said and the context. We always seek to include a link at the top of the report to the statement, either a primary source or, if that is not possible, a secondary source that quotes from it, such as a media report.

CHECK THE EVIDENCE: Once the claim is established, the most important step is to find good reliable sources of evidence to check the claim against. This is evidence in the public domain that verifies or contradicts what has been said, data from a public database, the findings of academic studies, the opinion of established experts, or other sources. Our reports are typically based on primary sources – a recording, a transcript, a database or other verifiable primary source if possible. Secondary sources are used where necessary but only if properly checked and attributed.

REPORT WRITING: Our reports are written in a clear and easy-to-read style, avoiding jargon, unnecessary acronyms and specialist language. The report format is standardised to follow a set pattern – a headline that is easy-to- read and deliver the report’s conclusion; a body that sets out the claim we are investigating and a conclusion based on our finding. We also summarise the claim and the finding in table for easy reference.”

According to our assessment, Africa Check respects these principles. They are all explained here:

http://fr.africacheck.org/a-propos/nos-principes/

https://africacheck.org/about-us/how-we-work/


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Criterion 2b
Nonpartisanship policy
Evidence required: Please share evidence of your policy preventing staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations. Please also indicate the policy your organization has as a whole regarding advocacy and supporting political candidates.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

At their interview stage, all Africa Check staff are asked about current or past direct involvement in political or advocacy organisations. Candidates are not hired if they have in the past or at present held an active role in any political party. The fundamental importance for our work of non-partisanship is discussed regularly at staff meetings and staff are all required to ensure that their personal communication on social media meets these standards. Africa Check takes no advocacy position on any issue save for the importance of data transparency and accuracy. Africa Check never has and never will support any political party. 

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

Africa Check explains its policies to preserve its non-partisan way of fact-checking claims on a page titled “Our principles” here:

https://africacheck.org/about-us/our-principles/

http://fr.africacheck.org/a-propos/nos-principes/

Its code of principles evokes nonpartisanship, fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of founding & organization, transparency of methodology, commitment to open honest corrections…

It precises that “The claims they make need to be checked, openly and impartially. Africa Check is an independent, non-partisan organisation which assesses claims made in the public arena using journalistic skills and evidence drawn from the latest online tools, readers, public sources and experts, sorting fact from fiction and publishing the results.”

Furthermore, the Africa Check team explains:

“At their interview stage, all Africa Check staff are asked about current or past direct involvement in political or advocacy organisations. Candidates are not hired if they have in the past or at present held an active role in any political party. The fundamental importance for our work of non-partisanship is discussed regularly at staff meetings and staff are all required to ensure that their personal communication on social media meets these standards. Africa Check takes no advocacy position on any issue save for the importance of data transparency and accuracy. Africa Check never has and never will support any political party.”


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Section 3: Transparency of Sources

Criterion 3a
Sources Policy
Please share a brief and public explanation (500 words max) of how sources are provided in enough detail that readers could replicate the fact check. If you have a public policy on how you find and use sources for your fact-checking, it should be shared here.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

The process we use to produce our work hinges on being transparent about how we find and use sources in our reports, factsheets and guides.

Once a claim is established, the most important step is to find good reliable sources of evidence to check the claim against. This can be evidence in the public domain that verifies or contradicts what has been said, data from a public database, the findings of academic studies, the opinion of established experts, or other sources.

When we find good sources, they are added to both our report and to the resources section of the website – Info Finder – for others to use.

• Always use primary sources if possible

We endeavour to use primary sources for all our report whether in the form of a recording, a transcript, a database or other verifiable primary source if possible. Secondary sources are used periodically where necessary but are properly checked and attributed.

• Databases and credible sources

The Info Finder section lists databases and studies that we found credible while researching our reports. When looking for credible studies and databases on new reports, the researcher searches here first. We also provide as much explanation as required about the quality of information and any relevant caveats to enable the reader to assess the likely accuracy of the information. We also try to provide some context to the source of data by explaining, where we can, how the data should be read and understood.

• Expert analysis

Where we cannot ourselves access data, we seek insight and quote an expert in the field as commentator. Where we do quote an expert, we identify clearly who they are, who they work for, and any allegiances they may have that might affect their analysis. We also state whether we spoke to them directly and when. And if we did not, we say where we got the remarks from.

• Use of anonymous sources

All the evidence we use is verifiable by us before we publish it. If a source agrees to send us information, but demands anonymity, we cannot use it as source material if it cannot be verified, either directly or indirectly, by our readers and us.

• Provide a link, PDF or other evidence where possible

Another guiding principle of Africa Check is that our reports should be not just verified, by us, but verifiable by our readers and that means we have to provide the evidence we base our judgements on – links, PDFS and other such documents – not just the judgements themselves. If such documents are used, we add them to the report and add them to the Info Finder section.

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

The Africa Check’s code of principles mentions the transparency of sources and the transparency of methodology as important rules. The staff explains in details their sources policy in the application form, with precisions about their “Info Finder” (https://africacheck.org/how-to-fact-check/info-finder) which permits the reader to replicate the fact-check by their own means, thanks to the database of resources the journalists have created.

Here is the Africa Check’s sources policy abstract:

“Always use primary sources if possible

We endeavour to use primary sources for all our report whether in the form of a recording, a transcript, a database or other verifiable primary source if possible. Secondary sources are used periodically where necessary but are properly checked and attributed.

Databases and credible sources

The Info Finder section lists databases and studies that we found credible while researching our reports. When looking for credible studies and databases on new reports, the researcher searches here first. We also provide as much explanation as required about the quality of information and any relevant caveats to enable the reader to assess the likely accuracy of the information. We also try to provide some context to the source of data by explaining, where we can, how the data should be read and understood.

Expert analysis

Where we cannot ourselves access data, we seek insight and quote an expert in the field as commentator. Where we do quote an expert, we identify clearly who they are, who they work for, and any allegiances they may have that might affect their analysis. We also state whether we spoke to them directly and when. And if we did not, we say where we got the remarks from.

Use of anonymous sources

All the evidence we use is verifiable by us before we publish it. If a source agrees to send us information, but demands anonymity, we cannot use it as source material if it cannot be verified, either directly or indirectly, by our readers and us.

Provide a link, PDF or other evidence where possible

Another guiding principle of Africa Check is that our reports should be not just verified, by us, but verifiable by our readers and that means we have to provide the evidence we base our judgements on – links, PDFS and other such documents – not just the judgements themselves. If such documents are used, we add them to the report and add them to the Info Finder section.”


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Section 4: Transparency of Funding & Organization

Criterion 4a
Funding Sources
Evidence required: Please link to the section where you publicly list your sources of funding (including, if they exist, any rules around which types of funding you do or don't accept), or a statement on ownership if you are the branch of an established media organization or research institution.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

We set out how we are funded on this page, including references to our rules about funding. https://africacheck.org/about-us/how-we-are-funded/

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

Africa Check is a standalone fact-checking organization which is transparent about how it is funded.

The ownership of Africa Check and its rules about funding are all detailed here:

https://africacheck.org/about-us/how-we-are-funded/


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Criterion 4b
Staff
Evidence required: Please link to the section detailing all authors and key actors behind your fact-checking project with their biographies. You can also list the name and bios of the members of the editorial board, pool of experts, advisory board, etc. if your organization has those.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago
Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

There’s a “people section” detailing authors behind the project and their biographies on Africa Check’s website, here:

https://africacheck.org/about-us/people/

http://fr.africacheck.org/a-propos/notre-equipe/

All the articles are signed by their author and all the authors are easy to find on Twitter.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Criterion 4c
Contact
Evidence required: Please link to the section where readers can get in touch with the organization.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago
Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

It’s easy for readers to contact Africa Check’s team: there’s a page that mentions all the addresses, phone numbers and e-mails of the different Africa Check’s offices everywhere in Africa:

https://africacheck.org/about-us/contact-details/

http://fr.africacheck.org/a-propos/contact/


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Section 5: Transparency of Methodology

Criterion 5a
Detailed Methodology
Evidence required: Please link to a section or article detailing the steps you follow for your fact-checking work.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago
Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

The Africa Check’s English-language site gives precisions about how its fact-checking methodology, with a lot of details in two sections:

https://africacheck.org/about-us/how-we-work/

https://africacheck.org/about-us/how-we-rate-claims/

The French-language site gives quite the same precisions here:

http://fr.africacheck.org/a-propos/nos-principes/

These details seem very clear and accessible in both websites.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Criterion 5b
Claim submissions
Evidence required: Please link to the page or process through which readers can submit claims to fact-check. If you do not allow this, please briefly explain why.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago
Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

There’s a dedicated page to invite readers to submit claims to fact-check on Africa Check’s websites. We can find it here:

https://africacheck.org/how-to-fact-check/submit-a-claim-to-check/

http://fr.africacheck.org/verifier-des-faits/soumettre-une-declaration-a-verifier/

And these pages are reachable from the websites’ homepages.

Both websites present to readers four rules to respect to submit a fact-checkable claim (sort of topic, fact or opinion, impact, already checked) and a specific form to send it to the staff.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Section 6: Open & Honest Corrections Policy

Criterion 6a
Corrections policy
Evidence required: Please link to the page with your policy to address corrections. If it is not public, please share your organization's handbook.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago
Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

The Africa Check’s English-language site gives precisions about its corrections policy in a specific webpage, here:

https://africacheck.org/about-us/corrections/

“In the case of a factual error, a note will be appended to the report and labelled “CORRECTION” with an explanation of what has been changed. In the case of clarifications or updates, a note will be appended and labelled “UPDATE” with an explanation of what has been changed.”

It seems this page has been added during February 2017, when Africa Check started its application process…


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.

Criterion 6b
Examples of corrections
Evidence required: Please provide two examples of a correction made, or correction requests handled, in the past year.

Africa Check
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 3 years ago

Two examples of a correction made or correction requests handled in 2016

The Democratic Alliance, a political party in South Africa, contacted us following the publication of the report shown on the below link in which we fact-checked a claim made by the party about unemployment. We corrected the report as can be seen on the link:

https://africacheck.org/reports/do-774-south-africans-become-jobless-every-day-as-the-da-says/

Following an error we discovered ourselves, we corrected this report on a claim made by former president Thabo Mbeki to point to the most recent data available:

https://africacheck.org/reports/was-hiv-only-the-9th-leading-cause-of-death-in-south-africa-in-2006-why-mbekis-claim-is-misleading/

Laurent Bigot Assessor
15-Feb-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 2 years ago

It seems that Africa Check has implemented its corrections policy in two quite old fact-checks, in January and March of 2016:

https://africacheck.org/reports/do-774-south-africans-become-jobless-every-day-as-the-da-says/

“The Democratic Alliance, a political party in South Africa, contacted us following the publication of the report shown on the below link in which we fact-checked a claim made by the party about unemployment.”

https://africacheck.org/reports/was-hiv-only-the-9th-leading-cause-of-death-in-south-africa-in-2006-why-mbekis-claim-is-misleading/

“Following an error we discovered ourselves, we corrected this report on a claim made by former president Thabo Mbeki to point to the most recent data available.”

But it seems there’s no example in the French-language website.


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Laurent Bigot.