Demagog.cz

Organization: Demagog.cz
Applicant: Ivana Procházková
Assessor: Jan Indra
Conclusion and recommendations
on 20-Mar-2019 (1 year ago)

Jan Indra wrote:

I have had the opportunity to assess Demagog for the second time with respect to IFCN`s Code of Principles. While I view the standards of the organization regarding its fact-checking methodology and transparency to be very high, there are some insuffiiencies, mostly associated not with the content production itself, but with the transparency regarding the organizational structure and its functioning. This might stem from the fact that the organization is fairly small, has very limited budget and deals with dynamic changes at the personnel level. Despite that, few simple corrections could be made – informing the public on the organizational hierarchy, describing funding sources (albeit in a concise manner) and providing a statistical overview of the organization`s expenses and conducted corrections. All these would further improve the level of transparency and accountability of the organization.

A
s well as with my previous assessment, I recommend Demagog to be accepted with edits. The remarks I had during the first assessment were accounted for accordingly, therefore I expect the case to be the same with the current assessment.

on 20-Mar-2019 (1 year ago)

Jan Indra recommended Accept with edits


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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog has been set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking, as stated in the business registry of the Czech Republic.

(https://or.justice.cz/ias/ui/rejstrik-firma.vysledky?subjektId=938169&typ=UPLNY)

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The organization is fully compliant since it was registered solely for the purposes of fact-checking political statements.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Public Register and... (60 KB)
done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog’s website provides an overview of all the claims fact-checked and where they appeared (debates, interviews, etc.). Aside from two special reports on politicians‘ promises, there are no comprehensive reports being published, only summaries of all the claims included in a given public appearance or summaries of all the claims of a given politician. The frequency of Demagog’s fact-checking varies, although its activity could be considered to be fairly consistent and frequent.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wlTmZJZh_KuVUfLNuEQ5cfJjS0Zx7f0fPHHJ0m_EX-A/edit?usp=sharing

Looking at the frequency, one shall also consider that according to our methodology, we are not factchecking individual claims, but the whole debate. Therefore one factchecked discussion usually means 10-20 claims being factchecked.                   

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As described, Demagog does not publish comprehensive weekly reports compiling all the claims fact-checked. However, it publishes compilations of all the claims fact-checked in a given publication piece or a media appearance (interview, debate etc.) – the frequency of these is about one per week, with some weeks containing more than one piece of media content being fact-checked. Looking at the logic of such fact-checking activity, I deem the organisation to be fully compliant in this regard.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Every fact-check that is done by Demagog.cz is strictly following our methodology and code of principles (available on the website). Above mentioned links point to 6 TV interviews with politicians from across the political spectrum in Czech Republic, 3 links to radio debates and 2 links to written interview. It also contains 2 major factchecks of local elections and 2 factchecks of senate elections. All factual statements are being checked regardless to politician current position or ideological background, Demagog has been fact-checking politicians across the political spectrum, with slightly more attention given to the politicians from parties in charge of the government. Provided exemples demonstrate a high degree of nonpartisanship and fairness, providing each fact-checking decision with a well-researched reasoning.

TV interviews:

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/novorocni-rozhovor-s-andrejem-babisem

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/komunalni-volby-v-brne

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/komunalni-volby-v-ostrave

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/petr-fiala-o-rozpoctu-i-zahranicni-politice

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/interview-s-predsedou-piratu-o-sto-letech-republiky-i-vlade-v-praze

Radio interviews:

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/kandidati-na-senatora-martin-cervicek-a-pavel-belobradek

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/kandidati-na-senatora-jaroslav-kubera-a-zdenek-bergman

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/vojtech-filip-o-cinskych-technologi

Written interviews:

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/miroslav-kalousek-o-evropske-i-domaci-politice 

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/ministr-spravedlnosti-knezinek-o-soudcich-i-statnich-zastupcich


Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As evidenced, the organization fact-checks claims by politicians across the entire politicial spectrum, with focus on the parties that are in charge of the government. The organization is fact-checking claims regarding multiple topics and does not unduly concentrate on only one side of a given topic.

One note: publishing a statistical overview of the distribution of politicians fact-checked across the political spectrum (how many claims fact-checked, filtered by political parties) would further improve the organisation`s aspiration for objectivity.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Below link points to Code of Principles of Demagog.cz:

http://demagog.cz/eticky-kodex-demagogcz

In our codex it is explicitly stated, that no member of Demagog.cz can have any affiliation to political party or its youth organisation including internship in these subjects. Also every newcomer needs to sign an affidavit confirming above stated.

Work in the Demagog.cz team is incompatible with any membership in political party, movement or youth organisation of these. A newcomer needs to sign an affidavit, that he/she is not involved in any way in above mentioned subjects. If while working in Demagog.cz he/she becomes a member of political party, movement or youth organisation he/she is bound to inform the board and also end his/her involvement in Demagog.cz. This rules apply for internship with political subjects as well.

Demagog has not been endorsing any political figure or a particular policy position, which is demonstrated by the scope of our analysis:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wlTmZJZh_KuVUfLNuEQ5cfJjS0Zx7f0fPHHJ0m_EX-A/edit?usp=sharing

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As evidenced, Demagog has a strict and specific policy forbidding its staff from any involvement in a political party or any other affiliated organization (political movement, youth organization). The organization has not endorsed any political figure, either by media content or financial endorsements.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Demagog_Code_of_Ethi... (131 KB)
done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Firstly the transparency of sources and its importance and policy is stated in the Code of Principles (http://demagog.cz/eticky-kodex-demagogcz). The hierarchy of sources and other principles for our work can be found in "Jak hodnotíme" section: https://demagog.cz/stranka/jak-hodnotime-metodika 

Each claim Demagog has fact-checked has its own evidence section. The assessment of each claim is explained in detail using links to documents, statistical data or other easily accessible sources.

Every outcome has to be based on found and confirmed data. Demagog.cz is bound by the imperative to provide our readers with the full, complex and data based picture of reality and in cases, when it is not possible to reach all the required information, we strive to provide all the available information.

Demagog.cz cannot publish any information with unknown source. Also it is imperative to always provide the reader with all relevant sources of published information.

Demagog.cz can acquire information only through utilisation of honest and legally approved means.

Demagog.cz provides also the names of editors/experts, if possible, that are responsible for used analysis, report etc. 

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog`s sourcing is of very high standards – documents (legal texts, official letters, policy drafts) are hyperlinked in the assessment of each claim, with a specification of each document`s page where relevant information can be found, making it simple for its audience to review the fact-checking if desired.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our general finance policy is described in a special section https://demagog.cz/stranka/jak-je-projekt-demagogcz-financovan. Each year, all the donors are named in a yearbook (also part of the link), beside that the donors are enlisted through their logos in the footer of the page.

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Demagog is a standalone fact-checking organization and it has a web page dedicated to the description of the organization`s funding. This page includes monthly records of the organization`s bank account, which is also open for reviewal by the public.

As for the funding sources, Demagog only lists one organization (NFNZ), and only by displaying its (although hyperlinked) logo. There is no description of the funding organization, which I find lacking.

Looking at the transparent account and the transactions made during the course of 2018, a lot of the money withdrawals are also not described (who took out money, for what purpose). And there are other donors (e.g. VIA foundation) that have been listed on the website in the past but have been removed. To ensure transparency, the organization should (at least in a few paragraphs) describe the main sources of funding (not just by linking to their website) and briefly describe each transaction in order to be fully transparent.

The legal form of the organization does not requre it to publish its accounting documents in the business register, however, doing so would definitely further improve its transparency. While the annual report from 2017 broadly describes how much money was spent on personnel and technical support, a more detailed declaration of the organization`s spending would be appropriate.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Demagog_bank_account... (9 MB)
done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

In section "O nás -> O Demagog.cz” there is general description of the project and list of all its members. Each member has an assigned position within the project: “ Koordinátor (coordinator)/Projektový manager (project manager)/Metodolog (methodologist)/Expert (expert/ka)/Korektor (proofreader)/Vývoj redakčního system (IT support)/Stážista (intern). Beside the position, there is a brief description about the person and his/her activity within the project. There is also a section with phone numbers of our PR person and expert enabling to reach them directly.

---

http://demagog.cz/o-nas
https://demagog.cz/stranka/kontakty

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog lists the names and short bios of staff members directly involved in creating its content, however, there are insufficiencies regarding the actors holding statutory functions in the organization. The main statutory body of the organization is the Member Council (Meeting), with the current Members being: Zdeněk Jirsa, Jan Tvrdoň, Petr Gongala, Veronika Šiková and Pavlína Škromachová.

Only Mr Jirsa and Ms Škromachová are listed as staff, while the other three persons are not listed on the website at all. The discrepancy might likely stem from dynamic personnel changes happening at the organization, still, as the main persons having formal decision power in the organization, all council members should be properly listed on the website to ensure transparency. Even more so when the business register docments state that each council member is entitled to act by himself/herself in the name of the organization, which is the case here.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Demagog_Member_Counc... (115 KB) picture_as_pdf Demagog_organization... (115 KB) picture_as_pdf Public Register and... (71 KB)
cancel 4b marked as Non compliant by Jan Indra.

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

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

There is a dedicated contacts page available now, including PR contact and expert´s e-mail to address feedback for our evaluation. General e-mail address accessible to the management of the team is also provided and it serves for general questions and requests of various kinds.
https://demagog.cz/stranka/kontakty

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog lists a special contact person, including her e-mail address and a phone number. There is also a general purpose e-mail address (info@demagog.cz) the public can reach out to.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The methodology is clearly and thoroughly explained on the website.

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/jak-hodnotime-metodika

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As linked, Demagog throughly explains its methodology, which describes four different fact-checking results (true, false, misleading, impossible to verify) and the reasoning behind each result, complete with a specific example.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Anyone can contact us in regards to our evaluation of fact-checking statements (https://demagog.cz/diskuze/kontakty) and there is also a dedicated section on the website explaining how this process works. 

https://demagog.cz/diskuze/mam-vyhradu-k-hodnoceni-nebo-navrh-na-overeni-kam-se-mohu-obra

Demagog.cz encourages its audience to contact them with any remarks regarding the assessment of the claims fact-checked. It used to have an initiative for people to send us factual claims, that we would fact-check called "Ověř.to" (Check.it). After three to four years this option was decommissioned as the interest of public was very low and most of the submitted claims were of non-factuall character, impossible to be factchecked by our methodology.

It is crucial for us to preserve the methodology through which we do not factcheck individual claims, but the whole debates. If there is an demand for factchecking an individual claim from the public, we either check the whole discussion or we write a special kind of article, more similar to complex analytic text like this one: https://demagog.cz/diskuze/oh

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog encourages its readers to send in any comments with respect to its fact-checking as well as tips for interesting claims by politicians that should be fact-checked. The process of accepting and responding to inquries is described in four different steps.

The organization takes responsibility for its fact-checking – if it deems an inquiry to be relevant, it publishes an appropriate correction.

However, there is no statistics (either online or in the annual reports) regarding the number or frequency of received inquiries, which is something that could further improve upon the organization`s accountability.


done 5b marked as Partially compliant by Jan Indra.

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.

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our correction policy is quite simple and accessible online. Everytime the text of the factcheck is changed or ammended (even if the category has not changed and only the reasoning was ammended), it needs to be explicitly mentioned in the text. The note "correction/added" needs to be encluded as well as description of the amendment. 

https://demagog.cz/stranka/mam-vyhradu-k-hodnoceni-nebo-navrh-na-overeni-kam-se-mohu-obra

Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Demagog has a correction policy and each correction is properly marked, including the reasoning for why the correction was made. Leaving the original claim assessment so that the public can compare between the original and the correction is appropriate and adds to the organization`s accountability.


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Jan Indra.

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

Demagog.cz
05-Feb-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Jan Indra Assessor
19-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The organization has provided two examples of corrections that were made. However, there is no dedicated webpage (or its section) showing how many corrections were made in a given year, nor is this number provided in the annual report. I would recommend showing how many corrections were made in each year, for example in the section describing the corrections policy, including links to each correction. Such an information would show the policy has been subject to real cases of corrections, without the public having to actively search for any corrections to know the policy is enhanced.

Furthermore, if the number of corrections was relatively low compare to the total number of claims fact-checked, such a statistic could further bolster the organization`s reputation (“we commit few/almost no mistakes“).


done 6b marked as Partially compliant by Jan Indra.

Section 7: Eligibility to be a signatory

Criterion 1.1
The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.

Criterion 1.2
The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.

Criterion 1.3
The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the three months prior to the date of application.

Criterion 1.4
On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.

Criterion 1.5
The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.

Criterion 1.6
If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Section 8: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

Criterion 2.1
The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.

Criterion 2.2
The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.

Criterion 2.3
The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.

Criterion 2.4
The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.

Criterion 2.5
The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Section 9: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

Criterion 3.1
The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.

Criterion 3.2
The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.

Criterion 3.3
The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.

Criterion 3.4
The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Section 10: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

Criterion 4.1
Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).

Criterion 4.2
Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.

Criterion 4.3
A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

Criterion 4.4
A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.

Criterion 4.5
The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Section 11: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

Criterion 5.1
The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.

Criterion 5.2
The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.

Criterion 5.3
The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.

Criterion 5.4
The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.

Criterion 5.5
The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (i) this is often not possible with online claims, (ii) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (iii) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (iv) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.

Criterion 5.6
The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Section 12: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

Criterion 6.1
The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.

Criterion 6.2
The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.

Criterion 6.3
Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.

Criterion 6.4
The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.

Criterion 6.5
If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.