Lead Stories

Organization: Lead Stories
Applicant: Maarten Schenk
Assessor: Margot Susca

Background

Lead Stories meets all criteria outlined in the IFCN assessment guidelines. 

Assessment Conclusion

It meets criteria in its independence, transparency, source selection, methodology, and ability to engage with the public. Its site is easy to use, and I believe members of the public would find it accessible and easy.                          

on 12-Oct-2020 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

I mark Lead Stories as fully compliant. I have reviewed a number of fact checks it submitted as well as others selected at random published between March and October 2020. I have no concerns about its sources, topic selection, or methodology, nor do I have concerns about its partisanship or fairness to one political side or the other. It even has a RED FEED, BLUE FEED and CORONAVIRUS FEED where users can go for specific information related to those parties or the pandemic, which is a smart use of its site. 

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 1.1 The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 1.4 On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 1.6 If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago)

https://leadstories.com/about.html

Lead Stories is an LLC registered in Colorado.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. 


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

1. Lead Stories started in 2015 and transitioned from reporting about viral content into full-time fact checking at the end of that year and early in 2016.

2. The number has grown and fluctuated this year (new hires, people leaving, freelancers...).  We have between 10-20 people at any given time.  Three are the co-founders/partners + one partner who joined later as legal counsel. Three staffers have editor roles, editing and coordinating the work of about eight to twelve fact-checkers.  Three other people don't directly write fact checks but collect potential misinformation for the fact checkers to work on and analyze trends in the misinformation landscape to provide intelligence about to clients.  We also have one person exclusively working on website and UI design.

3. Fact checking and activities related to or supporting that mission.  Beside our website with fact checks we also run and maintain Trendolizer, a software webservice that detects viral content online (used by fact checkers in several countries).  We also provide analysis and information about the misinformation we fact check to partners like Facebook and TikTok.

4. We've grown from a two-person editorial team in 2019 to a sizeable group in a very short amount of time this year.  Our short term goal is to ensure we keep delivering the same quality of work and to put into place the proper organization, training and procedures to be able to deal with the increasing workload. Our longer term goal remains tackling online viral misinformation as quickly as possible by providing and spreading timely fact checks.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. 


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Lead stories publishes about thirty fact checks per week.  

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. I confirmed that Lead Stories does a large number of fact checks. 


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We generally cover claims related to politics, current events, health, science, conspiracies, scams and the occasional entertainment story.

Files Attached
insert_drive_file Fact Checks in Last... (74 KB)
Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

A random sample of fact checks from June, July, August and September 2020 was reviewed. An example of a few of the stories are pasted below; headlines are used for brevity: 

Fact Check: 39 Missing Kids Were NOT Found In A Double Wide Trailer In Georgia -- But 'Operation Not Forgotten' Was Covered Extensively In The Media (August 2020) 

Fact Check: The King of Bahrain Did NOT Arrive In Dubai With A Robot Bodyguard (September 2020) 

Fact Check: Facebook Has NOT Banned Confederate Flag Posts

Fact Check: There Is NOT Already A Cure For COVID-19

Fact Check: Photo of 'Antifa Against Bikers' Banner is NOT Real; Antifa Did NOT Warn Hells Angels To 'Watch Out We Are Coming To Sturgis'



done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Lead Stories offers access to the use of its Trendolizer engine on a commercial basis, including to political parties or government entities that request it.  The DNC and DCCC both have requested access and pay the regular rate of USD 350 per month.  We have reached out to the GOP and the Trump campaign but they haven't requested access so far.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. The way that Lead Stories uses Trendolizer and how that links to political parties is clear. It's not a political relationship that I believe interferes with its independence. 


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

See the note on our "About" page: https://leadstories.com/about.html#note

The Trendolizer™ Terms of Service have a clause that reads:

"Usage of the Trendolizer Website or Service does not grant you any influence, say or preferential treatment with regards to the selection of the content we choose to write about, the content of the articles we publish or the rating or conclusions Lead Stories draws about any such content."

No individual Trendolizer™ user accounts for more than %0.15 of our average monthly company revenue.


Also see: https://leadstories.com/code-of-principles.html

We offer commercial access to our Trendolizer™ engine, including to political parties or campaigns that ask for it. All are offered the same conditions including a clause in the Terms of Service that explicitly says using Trendolizer™ does not confer any influence, privilege or say about our editorial work. At the time of writing only the DNC/DCCC requested access and accepted the conditions but the option is open to other parties/campaigns as well (see the note on our "About" page). Trendolizer™ fees are deliberately kept low in order to ensure individual user fees never make up more than a tiny fraction of our total budget. This minimizes the potential for users to have leverage over us by threatening to cancel their account.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. This is clearly stated on its website. 


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 2.1 The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.
  • 2.2 The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.
  • 2.3 The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.
  • 2.4 The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.
  • 2.5 The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/08/fact-check-kamala-harris-birth-certificate-does-not-identify-her-as-caucasian.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/07/fact-check-birth-certificate-does-not-prove-donald-trump-had-son-with-ghislaine-maxwell.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/05/fact-check-oldies-will-have-to-die-tweets-trump.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/06/fact-check-aoc-did-not-tweet-that-governors-should-maintain-shutdowns-to-hinder-trumps-reelection-effort.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/08/fact-check-pelosi-wants-to-remove-votes-from-soldiers-overseas-they-dont-even-live-here.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/08/fact-check-candace-owens-fired-after-calling-kamala-fake-black.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/05/fact-check-photoof-trump-with-kkk-members-is-not-real.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/04/Fact-Check-Biden-Photo-Does-NOT-Show-Him-Groping-Woman's-Breasts.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/08/fact-check-trump-very-fine-people.html

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/04/fact-check-audio-of-biden-calling-coronavirus-a-hoax-was-manipulated.html


We have checked documents, fake tweets, satirical stories, edited photographs and manipulated quotes affecting people on both sides of the political debate.  In all cases we came to the conclusion they were false or misleading using similar methods to find the evidence to prove it (document analysis, checking archiving services, pointing out the satire, reverse image searching and finding the context for the quotes).


Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. I have reviewed these as well as a selection from clicking around on its site. These are labeled even according to which party they are fact checking, which takes nonpartisanship to a new level. 


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://leadstories.com/how-we-work.html


Note: we significantly expanded and updated this section compared to last year, adding more information about the tools we use and about the structure and format of our articles.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. This is a very easily understandable and public facing policy and explanation by Lead Stories leadership. 


done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. I reviewed facts check published between January 2020 and Sept. 2, 2020. I used the website's "hoax alert" tab, and I also was interested to see Lead Stories' use of "Blue Feed" and "Red Feed." 


done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. The board can see in section 1.4 the list of fact checks that I reviewed, looking at both source selection and methodology. I have added others in a October 12 review for robustness. 


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://leadstories.com/code-of-principles.html (Under the nonpartisanship and fairness section)

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Its website states: "As a service to readers who are only interested in reading fact checks that benefit (or harm) only one side of the U.S. political debate we offer a Red feed and a Blue feed with just the fact checks they are likely to enjoy but we hope they will also check our full feed." 

I believe this statement and its clearly-marked "red" and "blue" fact checks achieve this non-partisanship in an engaged and highly successful manner. 


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 3.1 The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.
  • 3.2 The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.
  • 3.3 The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.
  • 3.4 The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Lead Stories implements its "Trendolizer" to fact check trending issues. Once it spots trends, it then uses primary sources hyperlinked and often expanded with graphs or videos in the body of the articles to fact check the claims. I chose one example (so three total) to examine sourcing from its "Red Feed" page, "Blue Feed" page and its "Coronavirus" tab. The methodologies of these three and the hoax alert one that comes next also were examined for Section 5 below. 

First example: 

On Sept. 3, Lead Stories published a fact check with the headline: "Fact Check: President Trump DID Suggest That People in North Carolina Illegally Vote Twice." Lead Stories used TV coverage of the president's statement--providing even an analysis of how well that local affiliate does--as well as statement's from North Carolina's Board of Elections to analyze/interpret the claim. 

A second example: 

On Sept. 1, Lead Stories published a fact check (hoax alert) with the headline: "Fact Check: Trump Did NOT Say Americans Are 'Going To Die' When He's Not President -- Lincoln Project Edited Video Deceitfully." It notes, "The 39-second Lincoln Project ad uses out-of-context clips from the FOX News interview." It consulted the original video and even provided context on the Lincoln Project in evaluating the claim. 

A third example: 

On Aug. 31, Lead Stories published a fact check with the headline: "Fact Check: The CDC Did NOT Admit That Only 6% Of Deaths In COVID Toll Were From COVID-19." Its sources evaluated a false claim made on Facebook and re-tweeted by President Trump. Lead Stories used the Department of Health and Human Services to explain the concept of "comorbidity" and went further to address how deaths are classified. It also explained the misinformation using a medical examiner's expertise. 


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. See above as I put these all in one box. 


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. See above. 


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

From its "Hoax Alert" tab, I reviewed sourcing under the Aug. 4 headline: "Fact Check: 800,000 Is NOT An Accurate Number Of Kids Who Vanish Every Year In The U.S.

Hoax Alert," which was being spread on Facebook. Here's the hoax post: "2000 children go missing PER DAY in the U.S. alone. That's 800,000 kids vanished every year. Being a parent and knowing that statistic or even thinking about what those poor children must experience is horrific."

Lead Stories sourced the FBI to debunk the claim. It is a clear and easy-to-read source explanation. 


done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 4.1 Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 4.3 A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.
  • 4.4 A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Independent organization.


The link to our company registration is on our "About" page: https://leadstories.com/about.html

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. Its About section is clear and it lists their staff as well as contact information for the staff. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2020-10-... (965 KB)
done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. Lead Stories is registered in Colorado and is in good standing in the state of Colorado. A screen shot from the Secretary of State website is attached. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2020-10-... (323 KB)
done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Clear. Screenshot from the site is attached. Editorial control including how it selects and checks fact for trending material is very clearly articulated and explained. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2020-09-... (398 KB)
done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Clear. Names are hyperlinked with bios and contact information easily accessible. Screenshot attached. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2020-09-... (173 KB)
done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Every page on our website has this note in the sidebar:


Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

Spotted something? Let us know!.


The "Let us know" links to our contact page: https://leadstories.com/contact.html (that link is also present under "Contact" in the footer)

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. The website says right at the top right of its home page: "Spotted something? Let us know!" When you click there it goes to to explain how to submit tips and information. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2020-10-... (265 KB)
done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 5.1 The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.
  • 5.2 The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.
  • 5.3 The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.
  • 5.4 The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.
  • 5.5 The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (I) this is often not possible with online claims, (II) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (III) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (IV) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.
  • 5.6 The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Explains Trendolizer and other trends they find to spot misinformation clearly. I examined methodologies for the fact checks noted above while also looking at sourcing. All were clear and could be repeated/replicated based on the information provided (with an Internet connection). 


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. An Oct. 12, 2020 fact check about whether Jeffery Epstein is living in New Mexico actually explained that, no, he's dead, and referenced the New York Medical Examiner's office. The fact check goes on, "Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, 2019, the New York Times reported. He was awaiting federal charges of sexually abusing underage girls and running a sex trafficking ring. The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Epstein's death was suicide by hanging, US News and World Report, CNN, Fox News and many other media outlets around the world reported. The Jerusalem Post reported Epstein was buried at the IJ Morris Star of David cemetery near Palm Beach, Florida, in an unmarked grave with his family's names removed" AND it even zooms in on a the video claim to say the person does not look like Epstein. 


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. A fact check of a Donald Trump tweet claiming Kamala Harris is to blame for a high incarceration rate of Black men in California explained that she was not California Attorney General in 2010, the year Trump claimed she was California's Top Cop. The claim was repeated by Pence in the VP debate. Lead Stories explained its methodology/sourcing saying, "The chart, which was credited to the Prison Policy Initiative and based on figures from the 2010 Census, showed California's incarceration rate for African Americans as 3,036 per 100,000 people. The rate for whites appeared as 453 per 100,000 people.

In his post, Trump is clearly trying to imply that Harris should be held responsible for the relatively high rate of incarceration among African Americans in California in 2010.

That's not a fair suggestion.

Harris did not become attorney general until January 2011."


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. In a March 2020 story headlined, "Fact Check: Overview Of Claims Made During Biden's Argument With Michigan Autoworker Over Guns" the methodology explains how the fact check site went to his campaign site as well as documented news reports to look at the heated enhance caught on video as well as his policy on guns. It notes (part of the fact check) here: "Biden wants to ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, according to his campaign website. In 1994, Biden, then a U.S. senator, spearheaded the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and pushed it through the Senate. According to CNN, the legislation "banned the manufacture of 19 types of semiautomatic firearms and criminalized the possession of high-capacity magazines." It expired in 2004.

After that back-and-forth, Wayne referenced the "viral video" - likely that of Biden and Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas representative and one-time presidential candidate. Lead Stories has already fact checked that video, in which Biden was heard saying he was "coming for" O'Rourke to possibly join his administration if he's elected. Critics on the right have claimed that he was saying he was coming for their guns, but that is not what he said in that video.

Biden has called for universal background checks and an assault weapon ban. He has never said he plans to confiscate guns. His campaign website details his gun safety plan. In it, he supports "buyback" programs for assault weapons, a practice that has helped to reduce gun-related deaths in other countries, including Australia. According to The Washington Post, the buyback program would be voluntary, not mandatory." 

This is clearly a thorough and robust examination of the issue. 


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. A Sept. 1 fact check under the headline "Fact Check: Joe Biden Did NOT Fall Asleep During Live TV Interview -- Video is Faked" 

Lead Stories found a tweet from the original video shooter who said it had been doctored. 


done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We link to our contact page (https://leadstories.com/contact.html) and sollicit tips on every page on our website:


"Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

Spotted something? Let us know!."


The contact page has this note:


"Tips & information

Have a tip about something we should look at? Additional information that could change the conclusion of a fact check? Email tips@leadstories.com and let us know.

We are most interested in viral claims/stories/videos/images/posts (no matter the political slant) that are false (or very misleading), harmful to someone and relevant to a U.S. audience. If your tip is about something else it is unlikely we will write a fact check about it. You can read more about how we decide what to fact check here."


That last sentence links to our "How we work" page (https://leadstories.com/how-we-work.html) where we explain (among other things) how we select claims to check.  It also has this note:


"Reader tips are judged by the same criteria listed above: if we get sent claims that are uncheckable, harmless or not very widespread there is very little chance we will follow up on them. Conversely, a concrete, harmful and viral story will get our attention."




Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. This is a very user-friendly site that encourages participation from the public. 


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 6.1 The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.
  • 6.2 The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.
  • 6.3 Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.
  • 6.4 The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.
  • 6.5 If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our corrections policy is here: https://leadstories.com/corrections-policy.html

Our stories with corrections are here: https://leadstories.com/corrections/

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. It has a clear corrections policy, and it also states in stories when it has reached out for even more clarifying information that stories will be updated. 


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Its corrections policy notes not just how it corrects errors but it also notes the nature and context for why it may need to correct, encouraging readers to contact them about any of the ways it might make a mistake or a story may need an update. All below pasted from its website on this section. 

'Lead Stories aims to get correct information out as soon as possible after we detect a piece of trending content that contains a falsehood. This means that sometimes we will publish an initial version of a story as soon as we have enought facts and evidence needed to prove something is not real, with updates to follow later.

In some other cases reality catches up with us: that celebrity death hoax where we concluded the person was still alive might need an update when they actually die a few years later. Science may make new discoveries, so at some time in the future there *really* may be a proper study that actually confirms something which hasn't been "scientifically proven" yet today.

Unfortunately sometimes we also make mistakes (although we try our best to avoid them and we have editors who are supposed to catch them before publication). A source might provide incorrect info to us, contradicting information from a more reliable source may appear, someone might make a mistake in their math or logic, something may get formulated incorrectly (by omitting a word or phrase or by messing up the order...), there could be a copy-paste error, a quote could be misheard...

And sometimes we just make typos or mess up grammar.'


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We received several emails indicating our writer misinterpreted a meme he fact checked, in response we updated the article and corrected the erroneous interpretation:

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/05/fact-check-murder-hornet-not-same-as-cicada-killer.html

This article was caught after an internal review because it initially focussed on the "sneakily" part of the claim but then also made absolute statements about the other part of the claim (what the bill would or would not do) without providing evidence for that.  The story was rephrased to make it clearer it was not certain yet if the bill really would have the effects that were being claimed.

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/04/Fact-Check-The-US-Not-'Sneakily'-Enacting-Bill-During-Coronavirus-Outbreak-Allowing-Officials-To-See-All-Private-Messages-Listen-To-All-Calls.html


Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. It is a clear and concise policy that they clearly are following. 


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

Lead Stories
25-Aug-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Compliant. Clear and engages readers to hold them accountable as a current signatory of the IFCN. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2020-09-... (426 KB)
done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

Margot Susca Assessor
04-Sep-2020 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

N/A to this section. 


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.