Factcheck.org

Organization: FactCheck.org
Applicant: Eugene Kiely
Assessor: Steve Fox
Conclusion and recommendations
on 15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago)

Steve Fox wrote:

I recommend again that this organization be accepted with a few recommendations. There is no doubt that the political and journalistic environment has changed in the past year. It’s even an understatement to write that. Journalists, especially those involved with fact-checking projects like Factcheck.org, need to be more transparent than ever with their work.

Factcheck.org would be well served to have a prominently published policy on how its staff do not serve partisan efforts. In that same vein, publishing corrections at the top of stories instead of at the end will also let readers know up front about any errors that are made.

on 15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago)

Steve Fox 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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We are a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, as indicated on our About Us page: http://www.factcheck.org/about/our-mission/

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The first sentence in the ‘About Us’ section leaves no doubt about what this site is about. Well-done.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As I mentioned last year, having the archives link on the top navigation is smart, although the drop-down menu seems a bit stale (ie: no mention of Robert Mueller or Russia investigation.)


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The links to the 10 fact checks were interesting because they showed the growth of the site and how the scope has grown beyond just fact-checking the statements of presidential candidates into a site more focused on issues. Yet there is a certain lack of consistency in that many of these pieces are dense, long and difficult to read with headlines that don’t let the reader know what they’re getting. Headlines like ‘Wind Energy’s Carbon Footprint’ and ‘Trump: No Collusion’ don’t really tell me about the fact-checking situation. Editors should consider some sort of design element that lets the reader know immediately what they’re getting. Better headlines and shorter stories will also help with reader understanding. 


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We have a policy that staffers and students must sign that clearly states that they cannot be involved in any political or advocacy organizations, and they cannot make any contributions to such organizations. I can email or upload a copy, if necessary. 

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The ‘Our Process’ page is a significant upgrade from last year and is a true exercise in transparency. I especially like the Facebook video -- not only is it a strong explanation of the process but it also humanizes the editors. However, missing from the page and the video is any reference to policies for involvement in political parties or advocacy groups. Especially in today’s ‘fake news’ environment, such a policy and explanation should be published on the site. Having a video explaining why editors and writers don’t take part in advocacy would be an excellent addition to the site’s transparency. 


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We provide links embedded in our stories to all sources that we use in writing our Wire stories. For Featured Articles and Ask FactCheck items, we list sources at the end of the stories. These links are used by our staff to fact check each and every fact that we use in our story before it is published -- ensuring that our readers replicate the fact check, too. 

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This is a strong feature of the site. Within their Fact checks and other features, staffers regularly link out. There are also lists of sources if readers are interested in doing their own research. 


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We publish quarterly financial reports on our website that explain in detail the types of funding that we do and do not accept: https://www.factcheck.org/our-funding/

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As I mentioned last year, the transparency on FactCheck’s funding page is exceptional. 


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

One suggestion would be to link to bios of the individuals listed so that readers can get a sense of who these people are. There is also a strong effort to let readers know about their staff and their backgrounds.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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

FactCheck.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We provide links at the top and bottom of our homepage where readers can contact us: https://www.factcheck.org/about/contact-us/ and we provide two links at the top of the home page for them to ask us a question: https://www.factcheck.org/ask-factcheck/ask-us-a-question/

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

One concern last year was that the ‘Contact Us’ section was getting lost. It looks like the editors have addressed that and the ‘Contact Us’ feature is more prominent throughout the site. An excellent change!


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Again, the outlining of the methodology is exceptional here, mostly because the editors have taken the time to explain their process via video. This makes the editors much more personable and relatable and makes the process much more understandable.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

 The interactive sections of the site are clearly marked and readers quickly find out how to proceed.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our corrections policy is explained on "Our Process" page: https://www.factcheck.org/our-process/

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

While the corrections policy is clearly state on the ‘Our Process’ page, the corrections themselves are hard to find, buried at the end of the story. It would be more transparent to have corrections at the top of the story, where they are easily found.


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.

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

FactCheck.org
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

In an October 2017 story on President Trump's announcement that he would not certify Iran's compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we originally wrote that Trump was referring to the Parchin military site when he criticized Iran for not allowing IAEA inspections of military sites. For that story, we interviewed David Albright, an adviser to the president. Albright contacted us the next day and told us that Trump was referring to inspections at all military sites, not just Parchin, to ensure that Iran is in compliance with Section T of the JCPOA. That section covers the development of dual-use equipment that can be used for civilian and military purposes. We corrected out error the same day we learned of it.

https://www.factcheck.org/2017/10/trump-irans-multiple-violations/

In an August 2017 story, we misidentified the military branch that operates the long-range bombers. It is the Air Force -- not the Navy, as we originally wrote. We were informed by a reader about our error a day after the story appeared and we corrected it the same day.

https://www.factcheck.org/2017/08/trump-misfires-nuclear-weapons-boast/

Steve Fox Assessor
15-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence submitted is sufficient. 


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Steve Fox.