Lead Stories

Organization: Lead Stories
Applicant: Maarten Schenk
Assessor: Margot Susca
Conclusion and recommendations
on 02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago)

Margot Susca wrote:

On April 2, 2018, I completed my assessment of Lead Stories, which filed an appeal of an earlier decision.

It has a clear, well-defined mission fact-checking items that go viral, which it determines using Trendolizer data, which I’ll admit that I had not heard of until this assessment. This mission is clearly stated on its website--that Lead Stories’ purpose is to debunk claims that move through the online world as fake news or satire.

It fact checks a range of items, some political and some celebrity and some a mixture (Stormy Daniels is NOT pregnant with Bill Clinton’s baby, FYI) and some that appear to be clickbait like the morgue worker who did NOT get mistakenly cremated after he pretended to be dead for an April Fool’s joke.

It’s clear that the site does not take a position or side but rather seeks to clarify the record in some cases working against stories that go viral rather quickly.

In its appeal, Lead Stories noted they have added on their website the subhead: "Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True.” I think that speaks to the work the site is trying to do. That is, Lead Stories is working to combine the power of fact checking with its knowledge that the Internet can spread false/fake stories like wildfire. Some of the stories the site fact checks may seem ludicrous based on the headlines or the content, but, I believe, that is the nature of stories going viral online, and I give credit to Lead Stories for taking on the task of trying to correct the record where those items are concerned (oftentimes treating its fact checking work as breaking news it seems as the pieces register on the trend meter). Perhaps there needs to be a site out there dedicated to those posts and trying to correct the record.

I do offer my concern here as much as a citizen and journalism professor as IFCN assessor: I do wonder if in trying to correct the record Lead Stories is contributing to the spread of some of this information. But, its website does list items as a HOAX ALERT or FAKE NEWS so we must put some of the work on the audience to sort through what it finds online.

Its transparency is clear as it offers biographies of its small staff and the money it takes to run it and support it. Its application and site offer clear information about how it is organized, funded and run.

My recommendation is to accept.our conclusions, and issue a recommendation for the board.

on 02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago)

Margot Susca 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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

As explained here https://leadstories.com/how-we-work.html we generally take the most trending fake news/hoax/satire story of the moment (found through our Trendolizer engine that we use to monitor lists of known fake news/satire/prank websites) and attempt to debunk it, whatever the ideological slant (or lack of slant) of the story. Read the full article to learn about our standards and methodology, including our policy on headlines and images.

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3469052-fake-news-news-world-wtf-islamists-marching-in-denmark-demanding-a-child.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3469020-fake-news-pamela-anderson-famous-playboy-model-and-baywatch-star-did-not-die-aged-50.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3468971-fake-news-christian-pastor-and-his-wife-not-stripped-and-humiliated-by-indians-in-uttar-pradesh.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3469063-fake-news-breaking-gay-pornstar-comes-forward-with-pence-accusations.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3469022-fake-news-florida-did-not-pass-bill-legalizing-recreational-use-of-marijuana.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3468908-fake-news-trump-did-not-order-removal-of-obama-highway-name-back-to-previous-name-old-dixie-highway.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3468903-fake-news-roy-moore-did-not-win-alabama-senate-seat.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3468902-fake-news-wikileaks-did-not-release-deep-state-files-deepstatefiles.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3468899-fake-news-man-not-arrested-after-making-over-1-million-selling-chuck-e-cheese-tokens-as-bitcoins.html

https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3468898-fake-news-busload-of-blacks-from-3-states-did-not-drive-to-alabama-to-vote-illegally.html


Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

None of our staff are involved in political parties. As an organisation we don't actively support or oppose particular candidates or parties. and we ask our staff to refrain from supporting any candidates for office or making donations to political organisations.

Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Where possible we always link to the articles or posts we are discussing so our readers can go look for themselves. If we think there is a risk the site or page might go down or be altered we will routinely use archive.is to create and link to a snapshot of something the way it was at the time we wrote our own article.

If we use online resources to check a claim we will include a link to these sources in the article.

When we (try to) use people or organisations as a source we will mention where the information came from (or who we didn't hear back from).

Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

https://leadstories.com/contact.html

We prominently link to that page in the sidebar and ask readers to send us tips but we hardly get any. We primarily hunt for trending fake news ourselves, see our answer to 5a)

Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

Lead Stories
02-Apr-2018 (8 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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

Margot Susca Assessor
13-Aug-2018 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The evidence submitted is fully compliant with this criterion.


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.