FactCheckNI

Organization: FactCheckNI
Applicant: Allan LEONARD
Assessor: Raymond Joseph
Conclusion and recommendations
on 14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Raymond Joseph wrote:

Accept with one minor recommendation

FactCheck NI was launched a year ago, in April 2016, and has a small editorial team and a tight operating budget. Despite this, they have completed an impressive number of fact-checks covering a wide range of subjects and issues and are to be applauded for how much they have achieved in the year that they have been running.

Recommendation

4a) The explanation supplied to me by Allan Leonard, the MD of The Northern Ireland Foundation (the lead organisation in the FactCheck NI project (see 4a) in response to my request for further info on finding supplied spells out how FactCheck NI is funded, and the extent of this funding. I suggest that this explanation be included on the http://www.factcheckni.org/donate/ page. There is already some detail on this page and by including this more detailed explanation they would meet the IFCN requirement that all major funders AND the extent of their funding, be made public

on 14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Raymond Joseph 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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/ then enter Foundation (Northern Ireland) (or company number NI068079)

Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Fact Check NI is a project of the charity Foundation Northern Ireland, which is registered as “A company limited by guarantee, not having a share capital) https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/NI068079

This is their latest (February 29, 2016) financial statement and report: https://goo.gl/GxSl5D

And these are their financial statements dating back to 2009 to current (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/NI068079/filing-history)

You’ll find their various mandatory filings here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/NI068079/filing-history

Besides FactCheck NI, there are several other non-profit projects that fall under Foundation (NI), including Shared Future, a forum of 129 “volunteer journalists” and Forum for Cities in Transition.

This from the latest (2015) annual report of Foundation (Northern Ireland).

NB: while they speak of FactCheck NI as still be to be launched at the time of this annual report, it was launched in April 2016.

“In July 2015 the Northern Ireland Foundation received a grant award from Building Change Trust to develop a digital fact-checking service for Northern Ireland, which will include a website for public use. This service is being developed in partnership with Transformative Connections (a social enterprise) with the Northern Ireland Foundation as lead organisation.

Knowledge was gained from other fact-checking organisations, including Full Fact (London) and the Poynter Institute (St Petersburg). A diverse and inclusive advisory panel was formed, which provided good guidance. The project was working to plan, with a scheduled launch for April 2016.”

See this too: https://northernireland.foundation/projects/factcheckni/


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

The latest fact-checks are published on FactCheck NI’s home page. Also on the home page are tabs linking to categorised fact-checks, like Brexit, Crime, Economy, Peace and other subjects http://www.factcheckni.org/

This is the link to all their fact-checked content page http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Latest fact-checks and tabs to linking to fact-checks by subject on home page http://www.factcheckni.org/

Dedicated fact-checks page http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/

Examples of fact-checks

Was funding cut for youth work? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/funding-cut-youth-work/

Are there really more Polish speakers than Irish speakers in Northern Ireland? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/thejournal-ie-really-polish-speakers-irish-speakers-northern-ireland/

Is Northern Ireland the happiest part of the UK? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/is-northern-ireland-the-happiest-part-of-the-uk/Do more residents want peace walls to stay? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/do-more-residents-want-peace-walls-to-stay/

Are foreigners a strain on the NHS in Northern Ireland? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/irish-citizens-financial-strain-nhs-northern-ireland/

Does Northern Ireland have a high teenage pregnancy rate? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/teenage-pregnancy-rise-northern-ireland/

Do half of freed criminals reoffend within a year? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/do-half-of-freed-criminals-reoffend-within-a-year/

Has Northern Ireland’s legislation caused an 80% rise in sex workers in Ireland? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/has-northern-irelands-legislation-caused-an-80-rise-in-prostitution-in-ireland/

Do almost 1% of people earn less than the minimum wage? http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/do-almost-1-of-people-earn-less-than-the-minimum-wage/

Has Sinn Fein Education Minister improved outcomes for the most disadvantaged?

http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/has-sinn-fein-education-minister-improved-outcomes-for-most-disadvantaged/


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

From FAQs: http://www.factcheckni.org/faqs/

“What’s your bias?

We are acutely aware that in a contested place such as Northern Ireland, many people use a “telling process” to try to discover “which side” someone is coming from.

Everyone involved at FactCheckNI ‐‐ volunteers, interns, committee members, team managers and the board ‐‐ work under the fundamental principles of impartiality, transparency and accuracy.

Impartiality means that we cover claims across the political spectrum, without fear or favour. We check all sides, and provide the widest range of sources for a fact‐checked claim. Our final articles involve many participants in its creation, and thus we do not publish author by‐lines.”

Also from FAQs:

“Are you trying to tell if a politician is lying?

Lying means that someone purposefully intended to mislead someone else. That’s a hard case to prove, and that’s not what we do. (Even in Parliament, declaring a fellow member as liar is a serious accusation)

We are not trying to examine the intent behind a statement; rather, many of us are probably guilty of saying something inaccurate to another person or group, later relieved that it was likely forgotten. For politicians, in the media glaze and covering a wide range of topics, their mistakes are rapidly replayed across the airwaves and social media channels.

We believe that what is more important than catching a politician out is to present the additional perspectives and/or nuances of a claim. You can then decide how much a public representative is consistent with his or her facts.”

And;

We fact‐check claims for accuracy; we do not question the motivation or intent of the person or organisation making the claim. Our desire is to promote a political debate that is rooted in numbers and facts, rather than stereotypes and prejudice. We publish all of our fact‐checked claims, regardless if the result validates the claim or not.

See declarations in this blog http://www.factcheckni.org/blog/factcheckni-signs-international-fact-checking-code/

From FactCheck NI’s Code of Conduct on political affiliations (Code of Conduct attached to email sent with assessment)

“12. Declares to the Editor any real or potential conflict of interest, before or in the

course of undertaking any assignment;

13. Informs the Editor of outside engagement and duties of possible concern, e.g.

giving evidence in court, participating at public seminars or the like (whether as

chair, speaker, or panelist), employment that could conflict with writing/research

duties;

Membership or public association of a political party or social cause/movement, familial or other close personal or financial relationship in the scope of any assignment; none may disqualify, but non-disclosure is not defensible”


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 3 months ago

From FAQs (What’s your bias?) http://www.factcheckni.org/faqs/

“What’s your bias?

We are acutely aware that in a contested place such as Northern Ireland, many people use a “telling process” to try to discover “which side” someone is coming from.

Everyone involved at FactCheckNI - volunteers, interns, committee members, team managers and the board - work under the fundamental principles of impartiality, transparency and accuracy.

Impartiality means that we cover claims across the political spectrum, without fear or favour. We check all sides, and provide the widest range of sources for a fact‐checked claim. Our final articles involve many participants in its creation, and thus we do not publish author by‐lines; you can review our project team here.

Transparency means that we will always attempt to contact the source of the claim. We provide links to sources (always public; never anonymous ones). You will be able to discover the source of our sources.

Accuracy means that we double‐check a fact‐checked claim with at least two people before publishing.” 


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

This is an explanation supplied to me by Allan Leonard, the MD of Northern Ireland Foundation in response to my request for further detail on how FactCheck NI is funded. (see my recommendation to ensure that they are fully compliant)

“Northern Ireland Foundation is the lead organisation for the FactCheckNI project, in partnership with Transformative Connections. This project was launched with the financial support from Building Change Trust. (I have attached their Letter of Offer, which includes the budget for the project (p. 26).)

Total project costs over the 18-month period were about £85,000; Building Change Trust provided £60,000. (The difference absorbed by both the Northern Ireland Foundation and Transformative Connections.)

As for reporting, income is shown as a "Restricted Income" and expenses under categories of "Programme Costs" and "Overheads", as appropriate.

There are currently no other sources of income for the FactCheckNI project (less a small amount from a crowdfunding campaign, under £500).

Once the Building Change Trust funding expires, the Northern Ireland Foundation will continue with the FactCheckNI project, perhaps in a diminished capacity until further income is realised. A FactCheckNI Advisory Panel will remain and assist with this effort.”

From http://www.factcheckni.org/donate/

”The resources on this website are free to the public; we rely on donations to cover its costs. This project was made possible by a kind grant from Building Change Trust. But that money will be spent, and we wish to ensure the longevity of our work.

Some core costs will continue to be provided by the Northern Ireland Foundation, but only if we can ensure sustainability of this project.

This is where your individual gifts help us so much. Please do your part to improve the quality of public debate in Northern Ireland, with more critical thinking of what is said and heard, by donating to this transformative project:

Link to crowdfunding appeal: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-us-fact-check-the-ni-assembly-election-ae17

And this from “What is FactCheck NI? http://www.factcheckni.org/what-is-factcheckni/

FactCheckNI is one of a dozen projects awarded grant funding in 2015, from Building Change Trust and its Civic Activism Programme (2015‐2018), which aims to enable the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to better facilitate meaningful participation of individuals and communities in decision‐making processes that impact upon their lives.


done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Editorial team and Advisory Panel http://www.factcheckni.org/team/

This from: What is FactCheck NI? http://www.factcheckni.org/what-is-factcheckni/


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Missing


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

From FAQs (http://www.factcheckni.org/faqs/)

“What stuff do you fact-check?

Our focus at the start of this endeavour is to serve the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, particularly in regards to encouraging civic activism. Thus, our topics of interest are those that affect them particularly, like crime, the economy, Europe, and the outworkings of the peace process.

We’ll fact‐check claims made by politicians and journalists, as well as popular myths (where we can substantiate them).

We are not yet able to fact‐check live events, major policy announcements (like a Government Budget), or election campaigns.

But our Media Monitors and Writers/Researchers are always working on our priority topics, so that we’re prepared for some of these rapid statements.”

And:

“How do I submit a fact-check“ (also in FAQs)

“Simply by emailing it to us: claim@factcheckni.org

We cannot promise to check every claim suggested but we do promise to read all suggestions. It would be helpful if you provide as much information as possible, such as date, source, and any particular reason why you’re skeptical of the claim.

We will then submit it to our editorial process. While we will acknowledge receipt of your submitted claim, we may not be able to reply how far we process it ‐‐ we cover several topics with varying turnaround times. Yet we welcome claims from the public for consideration.

And this on the website: We also offer a facility for individuals to submit claims for consideration, by email: claim@factcheckni.org


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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.

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

From FactCheck NI application:

” Not applicable (no corrections requested or made to date).”

From FAQs: “Why should I accept anything you say?

“You shouldn’t. We provide source links, so you can see more for yourself and make up your own mind. Keep in mind that not everything is black and white and that’s part of the point for investigating a claim. If our fact‐checked claim doesn’t look right to you, please tell us: feedback@factcheckni.org

We’ll reply to your feedback and make it right. If we get it wrong, we’ll say so, publically.”

Also from FAQs: When we make mistakes, we correct them as quickly as possible, and allow viewers to easily see what we’ve corrected.”


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.

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

FactCheckNI
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Not applicable (no corrections requested or made to date).

Raymond Joseph Assessor
14-Jul-2017 (1 year ago)

Missing


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.