Ferret Fact Service

Organization: Ferret Fact Service
Applicant: Alastair Brian
Assessor: Raymond Joseph
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

Ferret Fact Service added a clarification on its nonpartisanship and political advocacy policy in its About Us section. https://theferret.scot/about-us/

The website is also adding a call to submit claims to fact-check at the bottom of each article and building a form for readers to use.


Conclusion and recommendations
on 10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

Raymond Joseph wrote:

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) offers a combination of fact-checks and investigative reporting. Several of their investigations have won awards and some have been followed up by the mainstream media. FFS has an interesting hybrid model that generates funding from a variety of sources, ensuring that they are not dependent on any single source or donor. This includes conventional funders, member subscriptions and events. A subscription allows FFS members unlimited access to the site and also value added services like special member events and training. It is interesting that they also often fact-check posts to social media platforms, which is essential as that is where much mis- and disinformation is being spread. Although FFS was only launched this year they have made excellent progress and make an important contribution to truth and fact-checking in Scotland.

I have no hesitation in recommending that their application be accepted, but with a few minor recommendations.

They are:

2b) At present the policy regarding advocacy/political positions from the organization and its staff is not clearly and unequivocally spelt out in one place. I would highly recommend that this be added in the “About” so that this information is easy to find by anyone who seeks details.

5b) It is not easily clear how to submit something for fact-checking. I suggest that a “Submit a Fact-Check” link be added in an easy to find place. This might be done by adding a link to the drop down menu of the site’s content. Alternatively, a “Submit a fact-check” link could be included on the Fact-Check page, where fact-checked content is published. This should link to a page or section that gives details of the various options (email, FB, Twitter or Community Forum), to make a submission. 

on 10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

Raymond Joseph recommended Accept with edits


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

See attached PDF from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority of Ferret Media Limited as proof that FFS is registered as a cooperative.


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 2 months ago

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is the fact-checking arm of investigative not-for-profit co-operative The Ferret. We are non-partisan, and our board members are not members of any political parties.

We check statements from politicians, public figures and memes across the political spectrum, with a particular focus on issues which affect Scotland. We always give the claimant the chance to provide evidence before we publish.

We regularly seek guidance from experts to ensure we are proceeding accurately, and all of our source material is publicly available and linked within our finished fact checks.

We don't check opinion or speculation, but verifiable claims which are in the public domain. Our policy for fact-checking is publicly available and was developed through consultation with existing fact checkers including The Conversation, The Journal.ie and Fact Check NI.

All of our fact checks go to our three-person FFS panel of experienced Ferret journalists who check articles for accuracy and to ensure they are non-partisan.

Our checks have a clear, standardised rating system which is explained in detail on our website and linked from each article.

We have published our methodology so readers can see exactly what our fact checking methods are.

  1. https://theferret.scot/does-scotland-have-best-emergency-nhs-waiting-times-uk/ 
  2. https://theferret.scot/snp-overseen-biggest-work-poverty-increase-since-devolution/ 
  3. https://theferret.scot/one-in-five-children-dont-leave-primary-school-functionally-illiterate/ 
  4. https://theferret.scot/snp-increase-education-attainment-gap/ 
  5. https://theferret.scot/independent-scotland-queue-eu-membership/ 
  6. https://theferret.scot/scotland-3bn-conservative-dup-deal-barnett/ 
  7. https://theferret.scot/ruth-davidson-army-rules-military-uniform/ 
  8. https://theferret.scot/labour-train-stations-scotrail-failed-targets/ 
  9. https://theferret.scot/fact-check-sturgeon-unemployment/ 
  10. https://theferret.scot/scotland-country-coca-cola-popular-irn-bru/

Live fact check blog: https://theferret.scot/ferret-fact-service-live-blog-scottish-election-leaders-debate/

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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

From The Ferret's About page: "It will not be owned by some distant corporation: it will be owned by its members and run as a not-for-profit operation in Scotland. It will not be aligned with any political party or any vested interest. It will be utterly transparent and totally accountable in all it does."

https://theferret.scot/about-us/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 2 months ago

Ferret Fact Service added a clarification on its nonpartisanship and political advocacy policy in its About Us section. https://theferret.scot/about-us/

---

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is the fact-checking arm of investigative not-for-profit co-operative The Ferret. We are non-partisan, and our board members are not members of any political parties.” From FFS application

"It will not be owned by some distant corporation: it will be owned by its members and run as a not-for-profit operation in Scotland.” from the FFS “About” page (https://theferret.scot/about-us/):

It will not be aligned with any political party or any vested interest. It will be utterly transparent and totally accountable in all it does." From the FFS application

All of our fact checks go to our three-person FFS panel of experienced Ferret journalists who check articles for accuracy and to ensure they are non-partisan.” From https://theferret.scot/ferret-fact-service/


done 2b marked as Partially 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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

Our methodology was published before we began Ferret Fact Service, and was written with reference to existing fact-check organisations and in line with the IFCN code of principles.

We use publicly available sources in all of our checks, and aim to link to primary sources where possible so readers can see how fact checks are put together, and research for themselves.

When a fact check requires interpretation of different academic sources, we will often seek guidance from experts and provide a wide range of articles, reports etc to ensure we get an accurate picture of an issue.

We regularly use graphs, tables and other charts to illustrate our fact checks, with the data source linked. Where direct linking is not possible, for example where information must be downloaded, we often rehost via Document Cloud so it can be read online.

The Ferret also has a searchable database of all of our hosted documents and data. https://theferret.scot/archive/

When the claimant sends us supporting evidence for a statement, we make clear in our fact checks what information they have provided and include it as part of our examination of the evidence.

https://theferret.scot/ferret-fact-service/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

Missing


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

https://theferret.scot/about-us/ See also: Quarterly transparency reports on our Community forum here - https://community.theferret.scot/c/feedback

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf 4a - Ferret Annual R... (846 KB)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

Quarterly transparency reports are published on FFS Community Forum (https://community.theferret.scot/c/feedback) that includes details of finances and reports-back to members. Subscribers are also sent annual and other reports via email

Funding in 2017 came from a variety of sources, according to the 2017 Ferret Annual Report. (See attached PDF). This included donor funding of €50,000 from the Google Digital News Initiative and a £5000 grant from the Seedbed Trust. An additional £3.099.62 was raised from a summer “crowdfunder campaign” and £634 came from ticket sales at Ferret organised events. The organistion is member run and subscriptions (https://theferret.scot/paywall/) play an important part in raising funds and securing FFS’s independence.

See “Funders” for further details relating to sources of funding https://theferret.scot/about-us/


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

See Who’s behind this? On the About Us page https://theferret.scot/about-us/


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 2 months ago
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

https://theferret.scot/contact/ This page also contains useful instructions on how to make secure tip-offs and leaks to FFS

FFS was the first publisher in Scotland to be regulated by independent media watchdog Impress and tells readers how to submit a complaint to that body. (https://theferret.scot/about-us/) FFS states that they have also pledged to uphold the principles of the voluntary code of practice for social enterprise in Scotland


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

Details of fact-checking methodology, what is checked etc https://theferret.scot/ferret-fact-service/


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 2 months ago

Readers can submit fact checks via email at factcheck@theferret.scot as well as via Twitter and Facebook, and on our Community forum at https://community.theferret.scot/c/Fact-checking-FFS 

Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

The website is also adding a call to submit claims to fact-check at the bottom of each article and building a form for readers to use.

---

Readers can submit fact checks via email at factcheck@theferret.scot as well as via Twitter (https://www.facebook.com/theferret.scot/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/theferret.scot/) , and on the FFS Community forum at https://community.theferret.scot/c/Fact-checking-FFS (See recommendation)


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

FFS corrections: https://theferret.scot/ferret-fact-service, Ferret complaints: https://theferret.scot/complaints/

Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

For details of FFS corrections policy see “Corrections and Updates”: https://theferret.scot/ferret-fact-service


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.

Ferret Fact Service
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)
Raymond Joseph Assessor
10-Oct-2017 (1 year ago)

done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Raymond Joseph.