FactCheckNI

Organization: FactCheckNI
Applicant: Allan LEONARD
Assessor: Raymond Joseph
Conclusion and recommendations
on 30-Dec-2019 (5 months ago)

Raymond Joseph wrote:

I previously assessed FactCheckNI in 2017 and it is most gratifying to see how the project, which was incubated within the charity Foundation (Northern Ireland), is now a registered standalone non-profit, Community Interest Company (CIC).

It is also important to acknowledge the difficult terrain that FCNI must navigate to be seen as politically neutral in an environment where suspicion and mistrust are often present. Despite limited financial and human resources, they are doing an excellent job under - what at times must be -  difficult circumstances.

I have no hesitation in recommending that FCNI's application be accepted, although I do have some minor recommendations to make.

Recommendation

2b) Publish a link to the Code of Conduct Google link (http://bit.ly/38XFhFR) in the "About" tab on the home page.

5b) I suggest repeating the info, below, from the "Claim selection and research methods" explanation on the "Submit Claim" page. The reason is that some people submitting a claim for fact-checking might not have read the "Claim selection and research methods" section and not understand what can, and cannot, be fact-checked. By repeating the information, it will ensure that users are aware of it and will not end up frustrated - or worse - when their suggested fact-check is not taken up.

"Claims that are researched by FactCheckNI are done so only with publicly available sources. In order for FactCheckNI to research a claim, the claim must be:

* a statement made in public, which can be attributed to a specific person (e.g. a politician or campaigner) or organisation (e.g. a report)

* an assertion or allegation that can be validated or refuted (to a degree)

* based on past or present actions (i.e. not speculative about the future)"

6a) Under "Corrections" add:

See b) details of how complaints/corrections requests are handled, and how long the process usually takes;

See c) how corrections are handled on social media platforms where they might also have been previously published. If social media is used to alert people to the corrected article posts/tweets should state whether it is a correction, update, clarification with a link to the article.

on 30-Dec-2019 (5 months 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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI CIC is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Northern Ireland at Companies House (Company Registration Number: NI660549). The company was established with the objective of to improve fact-checking and critical thinking skills in Northern Ireland.The company has declared itself as a non-profit, Community Interest Company (CIC), where all generated surplus income will be reinvested in the company. Company files are lodged at Companies House and can be found here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/NI660549

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf FactCheckNI CIC - CI... (116 KB) picture_as_pdf FactCheckNI CIC - Ar... (157 KB)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI meets all the criteria required for compliance for legal registration and has provided all the necessary documentation with their application.

Northern Ireland Companies House registration details: http://bit.ly/2Q9vGTC See attached files for further details.


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago)

FactCheckNI fact-checked claim articles can be viewed at: https://factcheckni.org/category/facts/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI publishes regular fact-checks and often exceeds the minimum one report a week IFCN publication requirement

See: https://factcheckni.org/category/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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

For the General Election to the UK Parliament on 12 December 2019, FactCheckNI researched and published articles for claims made by five political parties, which covered the ethno-national political spectrum, from (Irish) nationalist to (British) unionist:

> Sinn Fein (Irish): https://factcheckni.org/facts/is-there-51-support-for-ireland-unity/

> Social Democratic & Labour Party (Irish): https://factcheckni.org/facts/elections/has-levy-removed-1-2-billion-carrier-bags/

> Alliance (Irish & British): https://factcheckni.org/facts/are-only-3-out-of-12-regions-net-contributors-to-the-uk-treasury/

> Ulster Unionist Party (British): https://factcheckni.org/facts/is-northern-ireland-without-funded-childcare-provision/

> Democratic Unionist Party (British): https://factcheckni.org/facts/were-90-of-those-who-died-during-the-troubles-killed-by-paramilitaries/

Our fact-check articles cover the topics: economy, education, environment, Europe (and Brexit), health, immigration, law, and peace. Recent examples of each:

> Economy: https://factcheckni.org/facts/do-over-95-of-south-belfast-residents-own-their-own-home/

> Education: https://factcheckni.org/facts/are-there-40000-third-level-students-in-the-northwest-of-ireland/

> Environment: https://factcheckni.org/facts/thousands-of-tonnes-of-slurry-for-pork-for-china/

> Europe: https://factcheckni.org/facts/does-brexit-deal-mean-no-forms-to-access-great-britain/

> Health: https://factcheckni.org/facts/does-northern-ireland-have-the-highest-femicide-rate-in-western-europe/

> Immigration: https://factcheckni.org/facts/do-northern-ireland-pets-need-passports-for-ireland/

> Law: https://factcheckni.org/facts/are-one-in-five-psni-new-constables-catholic/

> Peace: https://factcheckni.org/facts/does-no-one-in-mid-ulster-speak-irish/

Our policy on nonpartisanship can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/nonpartisanship/

"We fact-check claims using the same standard for every claim. We do not concentrate our fact-checking on any side of our communal or any other division. We follow the same process for every fact-check and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not advocate nor take policy positions on the issues that we fact-check."

"Our fact-checked claim articles cover the political spectrum in Northern Ireland, and with claims by individual parties and their representatives both validated and rebuked; we publish the results of all claims that we research."

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI's 2019 General Election fact-checks of parties across the political spectrum are a good example of how they do not concentrate on any one side to the exclusion of others. This is further borne out by the links supplied with their application, as well as scrutiny of the various other fact-checks published on their website.

Their online statement on nonpartisanship (https://factcheckni.org/about/nonpartisanship/) spells out this policy clearly.

"We fact-check claims using the same standard for every claim. We do not concentrate our fact-checking on any side of our communal or any other division. We follow the same process for every fact-check and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not advocate nor take policy positions on the issues that we fact-check."

"Our fact-checked claim articles cover the political spectrum in Northern Ireland, and with claims by individual parties and their representatives both validated and rebuked; we publish the results of all claims that we research."


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our policy on nonpartisanship can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/nonpartisanship/

"Everyone involved at FactCheckNI ‐‐ volunteers, interns, committee members, team managers and the board ‐‐ work under the fundamental principles of impartiality, transparency and accuracy; these are reflected in our organisation’s Code of Conduct."

Our code of conduct can be read online here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uI59T2WpLLZ3VkZlAA-d3lTMadxkNX3_AUkMZAeZLGo/edit?usp=sharing

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI's policy on non-partisanship (http://bit.ly/36UJLuT) which is available under the "About tab" of their website (https://factcheckni.org/) and their Code of Conduct (http://bit.ly/38XFhFR) are both clear and unequivocal on these issues.

There is also additional information in the FAQ (https://factcheckni.org/faq/) under the heading "What's your bias?" explaining the policy on impartiality.

Recommendation: Publish a link to the Code of Conduct Google document under the "About" tab on the home page. (http://bit.ly/38XFhFR


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our methods of fact checking can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/methods/

"We seek out sources of evidence that could contradict our developed conclusion, and we provide source links to all cited evidence that supports as well as refutes the claim."

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI publishes the methods it uses for fact-checks in a "Methods" tab on the home page. The way they fact-heck is explained in clear, simple language.

They also link to all their sources that support and refute a claim.

"We seek out sources of evidence that could contradict our developed conclusion, and we provide source links to all cited evidence that supports as well as refutes the claim."


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our sources of funding can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/funding/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI identifies its sources of funding via the About tab on its home page. The details are clearly marked under the heading "Funding". 

https://factcheckni.org/about/funding/


done_all 4a marked as Fully 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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our staff profiles, including advisory board, can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/personnel/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The details of the people involved with FactChekNI - including its Advisory Group - are all identified with biographies in a section under the About tab, marked "Personnel", on the home page.

https://factcheckni.org/about/personnel/


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Readers can contact us:

> Contact: https://factcheckni.org/contact/

> FAQ: https://factcheckni.org/faq/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

There is a tab clearly marked "Contact" on the home page with an online form, making it easy to contact FactCheckNI. (https://factcheckni.org/contact/).



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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our methods of fact checking can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/methods/

"We want our readers to be able to verify our findings themselves. We provide all sources in enough detail that readers can replicate our work, as much as possible. The following explains how we select, research, write, edit, publish, and correct our fact-checked claim articles. We encourage readers to send us claims to fact-check, as well as requests for corrections."

This explanation continues on the URL above.

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The methods used by FactCheckNI are clearly spelled out on the "Methods" page https://factcheckni.org/about/methods/, which is accessible via the "About tab" on the home page. 


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Readers can submit a suggested claim to be fact checked on the following online page: https://factcheckni.org/submit-claim/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The link to submit claims, as well as what can - and cannot - be fact-checked is clearly explained in the "Submit Claim" tab on the front page. (https://factcheckni.org/submit-claim/)

Recommendation: I suggest repeating the info, below, from the "Claim selection and research methods" explanation on the "Submit Claim" page. The reason is that some people submitting a claim for fact-checking might not have read the "Claim selection and research methods" section and not understand what can, and cannot, be fact-checked. By repeating the information, it will ensure that users are aware of it and will not end up frustrated - or worse - when their suggested fact-check is not taken up. 

"Claims that are researched by FactCheckNI are done so only with publicly available sources. In order for FactCheckNI to research a claim, the claim must be:

* a statement made in public, which can be attributed to a specific person (e.g. a politician or campaigner) or organisation (e.g. a report)

* an assertion or allegation that can be validated or refuted (to a degree)

* based on past or present actions (i.e. not speculative about the future)"


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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our methods of fact checking can be read online here: https://factcheckni.org/about/methods/

"We welcome submission of further evidence, post-publication of any FactCheckNI article, whether it validates or refutes our conclusion. Where a correction to our article is required, we will do so with transparency. An updated article will be annotated as such at its header, with a description of the amendment in its footer."

Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

FactCheckNI's corrections policy is spelled out under "Corrections" on the "Methods page", accessible via the "About" tab on the home page but requires additional clarification.

Recommendation:

Under "Corrections" add:

b) details of how complaints/corrections requests are handled, and how long the process usually takes;

c) how corrections are handled on social media platforms where they might also have been previously published. If social media is used to alert people to the corrected article posts/tweets should state whether it is a correction, update, clarification with a link to the article.


done 6a marked as Partially 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
18-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago
Raymond Joseph Assessor
20-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Four examples of recent collections supplied, with examples of different findings: i.e. "verdict revised" and "verdict unchanged"


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.