FactCheck Georgia

Organization: FactCheck Georgia
Applicant: Paata Gaprindashvili
Assessor: Laurens Lauer
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:



Conclusion and recommendations
on 04-Mar-2018 (1 year ago)

Laurens Lauer wrote:

FactCheck Georgia and its parent organization GRASS meet all the required standards and I recommend the approval of the signatory. 

on 04-Mar-2018 (1 year ago)

Laurens Lauer 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
28-Feb-2018 (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 (http://grass.org.ge/en/). GRASS is legally registered at the National Agency of Public Registry (see extract: https://enreg.reestri.gov.ge/main.php?c=mortgage&m=get_output_by_id&scandoc_id=1152219&app_id=1505796). 

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Registration Documen... (23 KB)
Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Georgia is the major project of GRASS (Georgia Reform Associates), a non-governmental think-tank and watch-dog organization registered as a non-Entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity at the National Agency of Public Registry in Tbilisi (see extract, which could not been reproduced online).


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

During more than four years of its experience, FactCheck Georgia has published more than two thousand fact checks. All of the materials are available on the project web-page:

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

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

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fact-Check Georgia evaluates the accuracy of political claims/statements since June 2013 and debunks “fake news” since April 2017, though to a much smaller extent. It has produced a total of 114 reports since 04th December 17 resulting in a weekly average of about 9,5 reports per week.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

1. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/foreign-direct-investments-from-the-european-union-reached-usd-411-million/ - Dimitri Kumsishvili, Minister of Economy; Verdict – True

2. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/in-the-previous-year-georgia-s-economic-growth-rate-was-5-this-is-twice-as-high-as-compared-to-countries-in-our-neighbourhood/ - Mamuka Bakhtadze, Minister of Finance; Verdict – Mostly False

3. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/bonuses-are-rising-from-year-to-year-in-2014-it-was-gel-218-million-whilst-in-2016-it-was-either-gel-318-or-gel-320-million/ - Elene Khostaria, MP, European Georgia – Movement for Freedom, Verdict – Mostly True

4. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/fuel-expenses-at-tbilisi-city-hall-have-increased-eightfold-whilst-furniture-expenses-doubled-and-reach-hundreds-of-thousands/ - Elene Khostaria, MP, European Georgia – Movement for Freedom, Verdict – Mostly False

5. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/it-is-not-a-prerogative-of-the-national-security-council-of-georgia-to-hold-a-session-about-the-issue-of-creeping-occupation/ - Irakli Kobakhidze, Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Verdict – Lie

6. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/georgia-spends-2-5-of-the-country-s-gross-domestic-product-for-healthcare-in-europe-this-is-5-7-or-10-on-average-the-united-states-spends-17-of-its-gross-domestic-product-for-healthcare/ - Davit Sergeenko, The Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Verdict – Mostly True

7. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/two-years-ago-the-competition-agency-of-georgia-fined-oil-companies-gel-50-million-the-oil-companies-appealed-the-fine-and-the-agency-lost-all-the-cases-in-court/ - Roman Gotsiridze, MP, United National Movement, Without Verdict

8. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/georgia-transferred-a-six-hectare-land-plot-to-turkey/ - Georgia transferred a six-hectare land plot to Turkey – Fake News

9. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/the-gel-depreciation-is-caused-by-significantly-increased-import/ - Nino Burjanadze - The leader of the Democratic Movement for a United Georgia, verdict – False

10. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/tbilisi-s-green-space-is-two-to-three-square-metres-per-inhabitant-whilst-the-average-european-standard-is-30-50-square-metres-per-person/ - Aleksandre Elisashvili, Former member of Tbilisi City Council, Verdict – True

These few examples demonstrate that FactCheck Georgia enjoys full independence and is committed to nonpartisanship and fairness. No matter factcheck is applied to the representatives of the government or opposition parties, verdicts are issued in compliance with the accuracy of their statements. In other words, when the claims of public figures (despite their political disposition) prove to be correct, given verdicts adequately reflect that. So is the case, when claims prove to be wrong.

The archive material 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 it has corresponded to the FactChecker’s Code of Principles even 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. (see: http://factcheck.ge/en/about-us/guideline/).

In addition, monitoring, evaluation and reporting is 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 the relevant argument. The 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.

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fact-Check Georgia checks equally statements of politicians and public figures from all political parties (see http://factcheck.ge/en/politicians/ & http://www.parliament.ge/en/parlamentarebi/deputatebis-sia) and covers a wide arrange of topics (see http://factcheck.ge/en/topics/). 


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

According to the guideline document (http://factcheck.ge/en/about-us/guideline/), project team members are obliged to leave their political preferences behind and maintain absolute nonpartisanship during fact-checking. In addition, the biographies of FactCheck team members are transparent and published on the project web-page (see: http://factcheck.ge/en/team/), which demonstrate and is proof of their non-partisanship.

As for the policy of the organization, nonpartisanship is one of the major requirements, which is applied to job candidates during their 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 immediately dismissed from his/her obligations and duties. In several cases, particular members of FactCheck Georgia have left the project in pursuant of political career, be it in the government or opposition parties. In such cases, their membership at FactCheck Georgia was suspended prior to their engagement in political activities.

GRASS is non-partisan and with its activities it only aims to benefit the public interests. GRASS as a whole and FactCheck Georgia, particularly, do not advocate for any political party or candidate. It is of fundamental interest for the organization to remain non-partisan and non-affiliated with any political organization. According to its statute, GRASS is non-entrepreneur, non-commercial entity, which does not aim to conduct political advocacy initiatives.

This policy also applies to FactCheck Georgia, which has developed a common approach to all political organizations. As the methodology document of the project points out, FactCheck Georgia is politically independent and nonpartisan (http://factcheck.ge/en/methodology/). But in the first instance, its nonpartisanship is proved by the articles published on the project web-page and the verdicts, which are solely based on the objective analysis of information. FactCheck Georgia’s work does not incite any doubts about its non-partisanship and impartiality. 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, who have been funding FactCheck during these years, will also confirm the impartiality of our initiative 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. 

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Georgia has a detailed guideline concerning work-principles and rules to ensure impartiality, and established related work steps to ensure their compliance. Moreover, the parent organization GRASS disallows its members/employees direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations, and corresponding resignations prior to the last elections demonstrate the validity of this rule.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (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 (http://factcheck.ge/database/).

In research, FactCheck experts use the most reliable sources of information in order to determine the accuracy of fact-checkable stable. 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 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. 

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Georgia discloses the sources used, either via link or by written note, and provides generally a record of the statement in question. In addition, all information provided by agencies upon request are stored in a publicly available database on the website.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

GRASS has publicly listed sources of funding for each project, including for FactCheck, on its web-page. See: http://grass.org.ge/en/projects/ FactCheck Georgia has also put the badges of all donor organization on its web-page: See: http://factcheck.ge/en/ GRASS is a member of Civil Society Portal and discloses detailed financial information on its web-page. See: http://www.cso.ge/organization_projects.php?slug=saqartvelos-reformebis-asoiacia&lang=en

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The signatory discloses on its website clearly the gained funding, the sources of income (donors), and the funded project. Additional information about the projects and their budget are available the national website of the Civil Society Institute, though could be more detailed with regards to the spending.  


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Both, GRASS and its fact-checking project list all current and former members and provide short, but comprehensive information about their biographies.  


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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

FactCheck Georgia
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

GRASS contact information: http://grass.org.ge/en/contact/ FactCheck contact information: http://factcheck.ge/en/contact/   

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

GRASS/FactCheck Georgia provides contact information on its website including email and telephone as well as its address.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Methodology: http://factcheck.ge/en/methodology/

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The signatory explains the fact-checking idea (http://factcheck.ge/en/about-us/) and its methodology (http://factcheck.ge/en/methodology/) clearly, and provides a detailed description of its pursued approach in form of a guideline (http://factcheck.ge/en/guideline/).


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Each article has a comment section, where readers express their claims or opinions about the research - http://factcheck.ge/en/; - Readers also send their claims through contact section of the project web-page, which allows them to directly send their message to the project team - http://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 - http://factcheck.ge/sheamotsme-sheni-phaqti/ - Other than FactCheck web-page, readers submit their claims and opinions through project’s Facebook page, e-mail and post. FactCheck Georgia has engaged in correspondence with its readers, including politician, which can be submitted upon your request. See FactCheck Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Factcheck.ge/?fref=ts See GRASS Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/grassgrouporg/?fref=ts 

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Georgia offers its readers to submit a fact-checking request by a clearly visible button on its website and provides clear information about the required standards of the material sent and the subsequent process. Readers can also engage by Facebook with the project`s members, or by leaving comments below the article.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Correction policy is the part of the project’s methodology. Particularly, FactCheck allows for the possibility that a mistake can occur in its work. Therefore, in the case if the politicians whose statements were verified by FactCheck (or any other reader) disagree with our research and judgement, FactCheck urges them to send the relevant argumentation in a written form. The received proofs are closely examined by the FactCheck board in due time and in the event of their validity, we correct and revise our research as well as the verdict 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/ 

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

FactCheck Georgia has a clear and open correction policy (see methodology page).


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.

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
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

http://factcheck.ge/en/article/state-budget-spending-is-inconsistent/

Editor’s Note: Initial version of this article was published on 27 November 2017. According to the data available at that time, tendency of inconsistent spending of the budget was hardly evident. However, in the beginning of 2017, state budget was amended, which envisioned increase of budget expenses by GEL 305 million. Taking into account those changes, GEL 1,654 million is to be spent in the period of 6-31 December, which is 1.8 times higher as compared to the average expenses of the previous months. This increases the probability of increase in price levels and GEL depreciation.

Therefore, the article was updated and its verdict was also amended. Roman Gotsiridze’s statement is now WITHOUT VERDICT instead of being MOSTLY FALSE.

2. http://factcheck.ge/en/article/state-tenders-are-usually-won-by-relatives-and-associates-of-the-mayor-and-the-majoritarian-mp-of-gori/

Editor’s Note: In the initial version of the article, due to the similarity of the names and the surname, the owner of one of the companies, Nukri Abalaki, was mistaken for another individual (the former deputy head of the municipality). As a result of a reader’s feedback, FactCheck has amended this inaccuracy. The factual error, however, does not affect the article’s verdict.

See the examples of other correction examples in Georgian language below:

- http://factcheck.ge/article/prophesiuli-momzadeba-gadamzadebis-sakhelmtsipho-programashi-daregistririda-50-000-ze-meti-samsakhuris-madziebeli-kholo-dasaqmda-288-adamiani/

- http://factcheck.ge/article/rusthavis-meris-arakompetenturobis-gamo-qalaqis-biujetma-200-000-laramde-izarala/

- http://factcheck.ge/article/qobulethis-biujetshi-2014-tsels-sotsialuri-dakhmarebis-ghonisdziebebisthvis-432-athasi-lari-dagvkhvda-dghes-937-athasi-laria/

- http://factcheck.ge/article/thamar-zhvanias-biujetidan-qhovelthviurad-vukhdith-khelphasis-sakhith-5-500-lars-danamatis-sakhith-5-500-lars-is-aseve-itsers-premiebsats/

- http://factcheck.ge/article/kaladzis-ministrobis-periodshi-energetikis-spheroshi-investitsiebma-iklo-shesabamisad-is-erth-erthi-qhvelaze-tsarumatebeli-energetikis-ministri-iqho/ 

Laurens Lauer Assessor
28-Feb-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The organization updates and/or revises articles if new information are available or mistakes made, and tags these articles by corresponding signs.


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Laurens Lauer.