FactCheck Georgia

Organization: FactCheck Georgia
Applicant: Paata Gaprindashvili
Assessor: Sarphan Uzunoğlu
Conclusion and recommendations
on 24-May-2019 (10 months ago)

Sarphan Uzunoğlu wrote:

It seems to be the most successful application I've seen so far. They have provided documents and material for almost everything and they seem to know the rules of IFCN very well. It was a professionally prepared application with only some minor errors which I mentioned in my evaluation. However, these are very tolerable and their efforts seem to be transparent enough. Especially, their transparency regarding their income, which most fact-checkers lack to be transparent about, is very important and their publication policy (even if it has a riskful theme) went so well so far.

on 24-May-2019 (10 months ago)

Sarphan Uzunoğlu 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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Georgia is a project of Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS), a non-partisan, non-governmental policy watchdog and think tank (https://grass.org.ge/en). GRASS is legally registered at the National Agency of Public Registry. Please find the registration document attached below. 

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Registration Documen... (23 KB)
Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago)

They have provided a document that proves that they are a legally recognized institution's fact-checking project.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Since its launching in 2013, FactCheck Georgia has published over 2600 fact checks. All materials are available on the project web-page:

See: http://factcheck.ge – In Georgian

See: http://factcheck.ge/en/ - In English

Note: Not all fact checks are available in English. 

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago)

They regularly publish fact-checking reports in both languages and it is satisfactory according to IFCN's criterions.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

1. https://bit.ly/2CFiPTk - Irakli Kobakhidze, Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia; Verdict – Lie

2. https://bit.ly/2I0L2au - Giorgi Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia; Verdict – False

3. https://bit.ly/2TC8Gwn - Akaki Zoidze, MP, Chair of the Health and Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, Verdict –True

4. https://bit.ly/2CFj2WC - Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia, Verdict – Half True

5. https://bit.ly/2FyL1aW - Giorgi Baramidze, United National Movement (opposition party), Verdict – Mostly False

6. https://bit.ly/2HTulOs - Nika Melia, United National Movement MP, Verdict – True

7. https://bit.ly/2FvdKxz - Giga Bokeria, European Georgia – Movement for Freedom MP, Verdict – Mostly True vs Ekaterine Mikabadze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Verdict – Manipulation of Facts

8. https://bit.ly/2YsiLQ9 - Davit Sergeenko - Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Verdict – Promise not fulfilled

9. https://bit.ly/2HUUUCH - Zurab Tchiaberashvili, European Georgia – Movement for Freedom MP, Verdict – Half True

10. https://bit.ly/2TXPXAm - Top 5 Fake News of 2015, Verdict – Fake News

These examples demonstrate that FactCheck Georgia is committed to nonpartisanship and fairness. No matter fact-check is applied to the representatives of the government or opposition parties, verdicts are issued in compliance with the accuracy of their statements. Archive materials published on the project web-page proves that FactCheck Georgia responds directly to the importance of adhering to the principles of defendable fact-based research, journalistic integrity on the highest of professional levels, unbias and fairness in reporting, and the accountability and transparency of sources.

Fact-checkers work according to an internal FactCheck Guideline document developed in 2013. The document has been subject to several updates and improvements and to a large degree, corresponded to the FactChecker’s Code of Principles before it was established. FactCheck Guideline contributes to maintaining coherent standards by establishing a set of rules for fact-checkers concerning the structure of articles, writing style, duties, terms, timelines, and procedures, etc. (please see attached below).

In addition, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting are ongoing throughout the course of the project. The project team regularly meets to discuss project activity and implementation, propose and implement troubleshooting mechanisms as needed and prepare and submit all internal and donor reports according to pre-established timelines.

Naturally, FactCheck recognizes the possibility that mistakes can occur in the process of writing and finalizing the articles. Therefore, should politicians or public figures disagree with our assessment of their statements (or any of our readers as well), FactCheck encourages them to provide us with a relevant argument. Received proofs are closely examined by the FactCheck board and in the event of their validity, we revise or amend our research as well as the verdict accordingly.

Files Attached
description Guideline-for-FactCh... (17 KB)
Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago)

Examples provided by FactCheck Georgia presents diversity in terms of the actors they fact-checked statements of. While they are a politics-focused organization, they seem to have been balanced in terms of fact-checking all the parties involved.

Most of the leading actors seem to be involved in their analyses.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

According to the guideline document (please see attached), project team members are obliged to leave their political preferences behind and maintain absolute nonpartisanship during fact-checking. In addition, biographies of FactCheck team members are transparent and published on the project web-page (see: https://factcheck.ge/en/chven-shesaxeb/team), demonstrating that they are not affiliated with political parties.

As the methodology document of the project points out, FactCheck Georgia is politically independent and nonpartisan (https://bit.ly/2UTboPv). Its nonpartisanship is proved by the articles published on the project web-page and the verdicts, which are based on objective analysis of information. Donor organizations, such as USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, German Marshall Fund, European Endowment for Democracy, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia, US Embassy in Georgia will also confirm the impartiality of the project based on the partnership process and reports submitted.

In 2017, FactCheck Georgia has become a verified signatory of International Fact-Checking Network’s fact-checkers’ code of principles. This international recognition also confirms FactCheck Georgia’s commitments to non-partisanship and fairness; transparency of sources; transparency of funding and organization; transparency of methodology; open and honest corrections.

As for the policy of the organization, GRASS is non-partisan and with its activities, it only aims to benefit the public interests. GRASS as a whole and FactCheck Georgia, in particular, do not advocate for any political party or candidate. Nonpartisanship is one of the major requirements applied to job candidates during the selection process. In addition, if any member of the organization will decide to join or advocate for any political organization, it automatically results in termination of the labor agreement and he/she is dismissed from GRASS. In several cases, particular members of FactCheck Georgia left the project in pursuant of a political career. Their membership at FactCheck Georgia was suspended prior to their engagement in political activities.   

Files Attached
description Guideline-for-FactCh... (17 KB)
Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago)
They seem to be loyal to the code of principles mentioned by IFCN in terms of their non-partisanship. They seem to be applying their promise on leaving political preferences behind in fact-checking processes.


I checked the accounts of the people involved in their team. However, I didn't find a relevant data regarding their political positioning and they seem to apply the code of principles.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

In the course of research, FactCheck experts examine multiple open sources as well as interview different public figures and experts from various fields. Another cornerstone of our research process comprises the use of public information requested from government agencies as well as other local and international stakeholders. FactCheck Georgia has created a database on its web-page, which stores all the public information requested from our side and submitted from the state agencies (https://factcheck.ge/ka/page/database).

In research, FactCheck experts use the most reliable sources of information in order to determine the accuracy of a fact-checkable statement. These include, but are not limited to the international or local reports, expert analysis, data of reliable research institutions etc. In the first instance, provided sources are explicitly mentioned in the article (for example: “according to The World Bank data”; “the data from the National Statistics Office of Georgia” etc.) In addition, a hyperlink is attached to each source of information. In doing so, readers can check the accuracy of the provided data directly by clicking on the hyperlink.

Finally, the source of the statement or claim, should it be in the form of video or text, is also attached to each article.  

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

Hyperlinks are regularly used and they redirect readers to relevant and credible sources.

Reports and expert analysis mostly dominate the fact-checking processes.

Internationally recognized data sources are mainly used to fact-check.

Every source of the statement or claim is attached to the bottom of the articles.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

GRASS publicly lists sources of funding for each project, including for FactCheck, on its web-page.

See: http://grass.org.ge/en/projects/

FactCheck Georgia places the badges of the project donor organizations on its web-page:

See: http://factcheck.ge/en/

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

They list all the contributions they got from international NGOs and governments. It is very rare among fact-checkers to be that transparent. I think this should be very appreciated.


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

Names and biographies of all the team members and team members of the roof organization GRASS is listed on both websites.

Key corporate actors behind the fact-checking operations are also stated in the links provided.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

GRASS contact information: https://grass.org.ge/en/kontaqti

FactCheck contact information: https://factcheck.ge/en/contact  

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

They have a visible contact module in their web site and it is effective.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Methodology: https://bit.ly/2UTboPv  

Please find attached the guideline document below:                          

Files Attached
description Guideline-for-FactCh... (17 KB)
Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

Their guideline seems to be satisfactory and in accordance with IFCN's code of principles.

Their work seems to be in accordance with their guideline.

Their methodology and evaluation methods can be observed in their fact-checks.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Each article has a comment section, where readers can express their claims or opinions about the research - http://factcheck.ge/en/;

- Readers can also send their claims through contact section of the project web-page, which allows them to directly send their message to the project team - https://factcheck.ge/en/contact

- FactCheck offers a service, Check Your Fact, which gives the public an opportunity to verify facts that are of particular interest to them - https://factcheck.ge/en/check-your-fact

- Other than FactCheck web-page, readers submit their claims and opinions through project’s Facebook page:

See FactCheck Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Factcheck.ge/?fref=ts

See GRASS Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/grassgrouporg/?fref=ts  

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

There are multiple channels for readers to send their requests for fact-checks and comments. It seems very visible and easy to use. Also, it is available in multiple platforms.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Correction policy is part of the project’s methodology. Particularly, FactCheck Georgia allows for the possibility that a mistake can occur in its work. Therefore, in the case politicians or citizens disagree with particular research and judgment, FactCheck Georgia urges them to send relevant argumentation in a written form. Received proofs are closely examined by the FactCheck board in due time and in the event of their validity, research, as well as the verdict, is revised or corrected accordingly.

In the case, if a significant piece of information is added to the research/article, but the addition does not lead to a change of the verdict, we revise our article; however, if the added piece of information alters the issued verdict the article is corrected. This practice serves the purpose of ensuring maximum objectivity and political impartiality in FactCheck’s work.

See FactCheck’s Methodology: http://factcheck.ge/en/methodology/  

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

Efforts of organizatiion satisfactory in terms of their accordance with methodology and ethics in terms of editorial notes created. They explained their ratio in a fair way while correcting the material they have created.


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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

FactCheck Georgia
27-Mar-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

1. https://bit.ly/2FBP87o

Editor’s Note: The first version of this article was published in February 2019. In that article, we made an emphasis on the number of deaths alone because in his statement, Kakha Kaladze mostly compared the nominal figures. However, upon the suggestion of a reader, we acknowledged that the mortality rate analysis is necessary for a comprehensive illustration of the reality and a comparison of the number of deaths alone is not sufficient. In accordance with the Council of Europe’s practice, the mortality rate in prisons is measured per 10,000 inmates which is now added in the updated version of this article. As this component has been introduced in our analysis, FactCheck’s verdict changed accordingly and now Kakha Kaladze’s statement is HALF TRUE instead of previous MOSTLY TRUE.

2. https://bit.ly/2HJZlkH

Editor’s Note: Initial version of the article was published on 19 January 2019. Initially, we assumed that the politician compared 2013 data, as the copies of the educational base were not available before. Besides, we assumed that in his statement he referred to students, whose status was terminated due to financial debt. Following the publishing of the article, Mr. Ratiani (author of the statement) contacted and told us that he made his judgment based on the 2012 data. In addition, in his statement, he referred to all students, whose status was terminated regardless of the cause for termination. As a result, due to unavailability of sufficient data for 2012, the verdict – Mostly False was changed with Without Verdict.  

Sarphan Uzunoğlu Assessor
23-May-2019 (10 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

The applicant organization doesn't have a public page listing all corrections made by them after a story is published. However the examples they gave regarding corrections are satisfactory in terms of the form and the methodology.


done 6b marked as Partially compliant by Sarphan Uzunoğlu.

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.