I have found the Demagog Association compliant with the IFCN Code of Principles and I would like to recommend the IFCN Board to accept their application.
The Demagog Association is a rare breed of both genuinely passionate and highly professional non-profit watchdog organisations. During the evaluation of their policies and practices, I read dozens of their documents and fact checks, and I found they met the highest standards of quality and impartiality. We are lucky in Poland that the founders and members of the Demagog Association chose to advance our understanding and decision-making with their fact-checking service and education on its methodology to a wider public.
During the evaluation I found two minor shortcomings regarding their corrections policy. 1) The correction policy explains how they are handled and by whom, but it misses a timeframe. 2) The revised fact-checks are clearly labeled and include explanations for the revisions, but they are published in a stream of all fact-checks rather than on a separate page, as IFCN suggests. I believe these are minor failures that the Demagog Association can easily fix.
We are registered in legal form of association. You can find our statute here: https://demagog.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Statut-Stowarzyszenie-Demagog.pdf
Demagog is an established association registered in 1989. The association has provided a link to a statute published on its public website. The statute lists areas of the association's business that includes fact checking explicitly.
Over the course of nearly 5 years we have fact-checked more than 3300 statements and more than 200 promises. You can find all of our fact-checked statements here: https://demagog.org.pl/wypowiedzi/ and fact-checked promises here: https://demagog.org.pl/analizy-obietnic/
Based on the evaluation of the articles archived on the Demagog's website, the applicant has published an average of at least one fact-check per week over the past three months.
As an organisation devoted to rules of fairness and nonpartisanship, we try to maintain highest level of political pluralism in our day-to-day published content. We factcheck politicians from every political side. Examples of our fact-checking pluralism from the recent local election presidential campaign:
We fact-checked 50 statements of 13 of 14 total candidates.
We fact-checked 49 statements of all of 10 candidates, including those who were not invited to participate in presidential debate (due to their “electoral insignificance”, as stated by the debate hosts)
Kraków: https://demagog.org.pl/analizy_i_raporty/wybory-2018-krakow-raport-podsumowujacy/ We factchecked 44 statements of all of 6 canditates and one politician who was willing to participate but in the end didn’t manage to register his commitee. We fact-checked his statements during his then-ongoing campaigning activities.
We pay close attention to promises made by politicians during the electoral campaigns or exposes. We publish yearly reports fact-checking those promises, based on our promises methodology:
Promises of former president Bronisław Komorowski:
Promises of current president Andrzej Duda
1st anniversary of presidency report: https://demagog.org.pl/analizy-obietnic/rok-prezydentury-andrzeja-dudy/
Promises of PO party prime minister:
1st anniversary of Kopacz’s expose report:
Promises of PiS party prime ministers:
1st anniversary of Szydło’s expose report:
1st anniversary of Morawiecki’s expose report
We monitor the work of Polish Sejm in our annual reports:
We also publish content concerning the general scope of our interests and activities, such as:
Anti fake news measures around the world: https://demagog.org.pl/analizy_i_raporty/krytyczne-myslenie-co-na-to-swiat/
Appointment of judges across the Europe (published during the polish judiciary crisis)
Fake news debunking:
History of fact-checking:
The applicant has provided evidence that it fact-checked claims made politicians of different parties and affiliations, covering different subjects of the claims but using the same standards. The applicant has shared an explanation of its policy in the application and on its public website.
Current member of a political party can not become a member of Demagog Association.
Each member of our organisation, including newly recruited volunteers, must complete our “Declaration of Impartiality”: https://demagog.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Deklaracja-bezstronnosci-Stowarzyszenia-Demagog.pdf
The commitments included in Declaration are as follows:
To rate the statements with principles of political and ideological impartiality, without any value judgements or subjective opinions.
To use reliable sources of information, based on scientific methods.
To follow the principles of objectivity and impartiality based on irrefutability of data and facts.
Reliable and precise description of reality.
Correction of fact-checks.
We also ask each member of their backstory of political activities of any kind (party membership, electoral candidature, membership in politically oriented NGOs, etc.) We strictly review public activities that potentially could be considered as political.
The board of Demagog Association has the right to exclude from organisation any member that would broke commitments of Declaration.
To the knowledge of the assessor, the applicant has not endorsed any candidate, any party or any policy. Its statute as well as a declaration signed by members oblige them to follow the principles of impartiality and nonpartisanship. Both documents are publicly available on the applicant's website.
Our open sources policy is part of our methodology. https://demagog.org.pl/metodologia/
Each published fact-check contains external links (in a form of contextual hyperlinks) to reliable sources used in it. If it is a multi-page source, we also provide more precise description of used data (title of table/chart, page number etc.)
Sources of statements are also provided to assure the possibility of placing the fact-checked statement in broader context.
We gather statements from wide range of sources:
Our everyday “mediascan” activities: We watch, listen and read all of significant programmes in polish media (TV, radio and also web portals) which contain interviews with politicians
We monitor official social media of parties and politicians, both on Facebook as well as on Twitter
We monitor official transcripts of Polish Parliament sessions
We use only reliable sources based on scientific methods from official institutions, widely recognized international organizations etc. If possible, we try to provide multiple sources concerning the fact-checked topic in order to provide more informative and broader picture.
Having evaluated the applicant's reports, I can confirm that the key sources are clearly referenced and linked. The sources used are expert, rigorous and cross-checked. The applicant has shared the policy of sourcing on its public website.
We explain all of our financial structure in dedicated page on our website: https://demagog.org.pl/finansowanie/
We describe possible sources of funding, according to our statute.
We present all of our significant (more than 10.000 PLN) funding grants - which contains the actual sum of funding, operational period and brief specification of activities financed by each grant.
Stefan Batory Foundation - 141.400.00 PLN (1.04.2018-31.03.2019)
Narodowy Instytut Wolności (FIO) - 275.600.00 PLN (duration: 1.07.2018-31.12.2019
The United States Embassy in Poland - 12.000.00 $ (duration: 29.08.2017-31.03.2018)
We present the yearly amount of individual donations and membership fees.
In 2018 membership fees amounted 1940 PLN. Donations fees amounted 4331.80 PLN.
We also publish our yearly financial reports approved by Tax Office.
We do not accept nor participate in any grant that could possibly influence or try to interfere with our neutrality policy and independence.
The applicant has a clearly marked section about its funding sources on the public website. In the section, it details the funding grants, donations and membership fees. It publishes also its annual financial reports, as filed with the Tax Office, that include the overview of spending.
We present our staff describing their bios and role in organisation on our dedicated page: https://demagog.org.pl/nasz-zespol/
The applicant's website contains a section with a list of key personel, their roles and their bios.
We have a dedicated contact form on our website: https://demagog.org.pl/kontakt/
We also provide links to our social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The applicant has provided several ways for the public to reach out with complaints, comments but also provided tools to submit the claims for the fact-check.
We describe our methodology here: https://demagog.org.pl/metodologia/
We present it in an “easy to understand” four-step scheme, which explains both statements and promises methodology.
The applicant has provided a clear, easy to understand and a step-by-step explanation of its fact-checking methodology.
We fact-check statements sent to us via our social media profiles or our website: https://demagog.org.pl/zglos-wypowiedz/ provided they fulfill our methodology criteria.
In “submission claim” form on our website we remind that we fact-check only factual statements, not the subjective opinions. We provide constant updates on submissioned claims status, till the final publication of fact-check on our website.
The applicant's website provides a dedication page for submitting claims for the fact-check. The page includes necessary explanations of the methodology. The applicant provides updates on the status of the submitted claims.
We describe our correction policy in the fourth step of our fact-checking methodology.
Chief editor cross-checks every statement that we publish on website. If an factual error that doesn’t change the general outlook of published fact-check is detected, we edit our article with clear “UPDATE” caption at the end of the article which describes the correction.
If an rating-changing error in published factcheck is detected, we publish new, corrected version of factcheck. Statement is corrected not by the original author of article, but by different one under supervision of chief editor. We then publish new, corrected version of fact-heck while leaving at the bottom of the article clear UPDATE caption, explaining the rate-changing correction and the original, erroneous version of fact-check to provide honest and open correction policy.
The applicant has included its correction policy in its fact-checking methodology description. It has provided additional explanations of its process of revising a fact-check.
The policies though do not specify any timeframe in which the corrections will be evaluated.
Examples of our non rate-changing errors are our recent fact-checks, wrongfully attributed to Robert Biedron statements which in fact were said by his associate, Beata Maciejewska.
Example of rate-changing correction is fact-check of Marek Jurek’s statement concerning the article 7 procedure. We wrongfully claimed that the article 7 procedure is being conducted by the European Council, which allowed us to rate as “truth” Jurek’s statement. In fact, it is being conducted by the Council of the European Union, which changed our rate to “manipulation”.
The applicant has provided examples of the corrections.
It does not though have a page listing all corrections made. The revised checks are published in the same feeds as other checks, although they are clearly marked as revised and they include explanations of the revisions.