Maharat-News

Organization: Maharat Foundation
Applicant: Roula Mikhael
Assessor: Naglaa Elemary
Conclusion and recommendations
on 13-Mar-2020 (4 months ago)

Naglaa Elemary wrote:

The applicant showed commitment to fact-checking. All requested amendments where done. A clear invitation to the readers to submit claims and a clear correction policy were added. Articles showing weaknesses in methodology were removed from the fact-checking section.

Stories were edited to add links in order to make the replication of the fact-checking possible for the readers. With all criteria assessed as fully compliant, we recommed to accept the application



on 13-Mar-2020 (4 months ago)

Naglaa Elemary recommended Accept


on 28-Feb-2020 (5 months ago)

Naglaa Elemary wrote:

The applicant is fully compliant in 5 out of 12 criteria, 'partially compliant' in 4 and 'non-compliant' in 3criteria.

3 out of 5of the criteria applicant is fully complaint are related to the organisation hosting the fact-checking section 'Maharat Foundation' and its news website and not to the fact-checking section itself.  

These are: Registration, the authors (they are the web-site staff as a whole), Contact (again for the website as a whole).

The other two criteria are the regularity in publsihing and explaining the methodology.

As all other criteria are either 'partially compliant' or 'non compliant', it would be better to reject the application at the time-being until the process of fact-checking followed by the pplicant gets rigorous and its policy in corrections, giving the readers the opportunity to suggest claims and the  seperation between the advocacy mission of the Foundation as a whole and the fact-checking section are well established.

on 28-Feb-2020 (5 months ago)

Naglaa Elemary recommended Reject


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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago)

Fact-o-meter is a section of Maharat-News incubated by Maharat Foundation, which is a Beirut based NGO working on the promotion of freedom of expression and media development. Maharat-news aims to engage and inspire citizens in the Arab World by monitoring the freedom of expression and providing evidence-based news and information. Attached is the registration of Maharat Foundation.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf Factual Certificate_... (881 KB)
Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago)

The applicant provided evidence of registration of Maharat Foundation as a NGO under which the fact-checking section exists


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago)

All fact checks reports are published in the Fact-o-meter section on Maharat-News based on 4 main topics: governance, environment and energy, gender, and freedom of expression. The link to Fact-o-meter http://maharat-news.com/fact-o-meter.

A team of journalists follow thoroughly the methodology set and published on the fact-o-meter. Training is provided for the journalists in addition to close follow up by newsroom editor in order to ensure quality and evidence of fact checked articles.

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Despite some gaps in publishing, we can consider that the applicant has published in average one fact-checked report per week over the last 3 months (from November 2019 to end of January 2020).


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Maharat-News started its work on fact checking in 2019, particularly after Maharat Foundation organized a conference on Fake news and Media Viability in April 2018. Conversations were initiated with other factchecking platforms hosted in this event including Politifact and Lupas. Maharat-news built on the best practices shared in order to draft a methodology that is relevant to the Lebanese context. Maharat-news started testing the methodology in early 2019 but was not consistent in publishing. An article published in August 2019 (http://maharat-news.com/fact-o-meter/energy/oilgas005) on the governance in oil and gas sector allowed Maharat-news team to set a reference of fact checks that should be published in its factometer, based on contracts, laws, decrees and relevant experts.

The publishing started to be frequent and consistent starting September 2019 and below links for 10 articles:

http://maharat-news.com/riadsalamehstatement

http://maharat-news.com/flourprice

https://maharat-news.com/parliamentarysessionbudget 

http://maharat-news.com/refugeesnumbersfact

http://maharat-news.com/medicineprice

http://maharat-news.com/oilandgasnicolassarkis

http://maharat-news.com/drillingfactchecking

http://maharat-news.com/statementoilgas1

http://maharat-news.com/EITI/Lebanon

http://maharat-news.com/accesstoinformation21520199

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant removed the article off the fact-checking section and agreed to re-evaluate the methodology and the use of the experts in the future


Previous comment:

The examples provided show a variety of issues relevant to a wide audience. However, the applicant relies heavily on experts. The experts' statements are not checked by the applicant and taken as facts. In more than one article, the other side is absent.

In some of the articles, the expert mentions decrees and laws. The applicant doesn't provide links to these decrees nor provides their full text. In such cases the checking takes only into account the experts' views. In some articles,  the mission of the Foundation as a NGO interferes with the fact-checking procedure. A clear example of this, the article on the new law and gender balance

https://maharat-news.com/gender/discrimination/social-security

The article was fact-checking a statement by the general manager of the ministry of Labour who said that "the discrimination against women doesn't exist anymore due to the recent amendments in the social security laws'.

The article starts by saying that the law "discriminates against women and their rights as it is the case in 5 clauses'.  Then, it enumerates these clauses without  explaning how each violates women's rights.  It doesn't either include any hyperlink to the clauses nor it includes the full text of each.

 





done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Our platform is not biased as we factcheck statements not political parties or political figures. We ensure our journalists are not members or supporters of political parties and are trained on our methodology in order to factcheck only statements and not opinions. Furthermore the editorial flow of work ensures many levels of factchecking sources and information. In addition Maharat-news editorial policy includes a non partisanship paragraph as below:

تسعى مهارات نيوز الى تقديم الحقائق بعيدا عن اية انتماءات سياسية، حزبية أو طائفية حيث يترك الصحافيون العاملون في الموقع آرائهم الخاصة جانباً ويعملون بكل تجرد على تحقيق مبادئ الاستقلالية والشفافية.

من هذا المنطلق على الصحافيين العاملين في الموقع تجنب التعبير عن أرائهم السياسية علناً وتجنب المشاركة العامة في العمل السياسي.

كما عليهم تجنب التعبير عن الآراء السياسية على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. يمكنهم مشاركة مقالات اواي محتوى صحافي آخر، شرط الا يكون المحتوى مؤيد أو معارض لشخصية أو منصبًا سياسيًا.

يمكن للصحافيي المشاركة في الانتخابات كناخبين، لأن ذلك من حق المواطنين في الادلاء بآرائهم على ان تكون عملية الاقتراع غير علنية والا يشاركوا في حملات انتخابية او في دعم مرشحين سياسيين معينين.                

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant replied to our initial comments (below) and provided more information on its policy banning its staff from having political activities inluding on social media.

The applicant took into account our comments on one of the articles which could be seen as a statement rather than a fact-check story (Women rights). The applicant moved the story off the fact-check section.


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Initial comments:

After examining more articles, it appears that having as umbrella Maharat Foundation, a NGO advocating freedom of expression and women rights, has impact on the methodology used to fact-check claims related to the policy of the Foundation. We have already gave an example above. Another example is an article on the new government statement regarding its strategy towards the media in the country.

The article is more a NGO's statement rather than a fact-checking one. It expresses a position against the government strategy based on generalities rather than specific counter-facts.

https://maharat-news.com/factomediaministerialstatement20



done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The fact checking that we conduct is entirely evidence based. After choosing the statement or promise of the public figure that we are aiming to fact check, Facto-meter team starts by defining the general context in which the statement/promise is being said, then a copy of the statement/promise is attached to the article with a link to the source (whether from social platform or media institution). After that the statement/promise is analyzed. The analysis is based on numbers, statistics, laws, decrees, interview with experts and relevant public policies. Thus according to the nature of statement/promise relevant sources are defined and we insert reference to relevant experts or laws with highlight of relevant articles to the subject matter, website of pertinent organization or public institutions, reference to related public policy. The experts are included in the articles to explain the laws referred to in order to simplify them for the public. Sometimes requests for information are presented to relevant public administrations to access specific data although the requests are not approved lot of the time.

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant updated different stories and added the missing links. We changed the assessment from 'partially compliant" to 'fully compliant'

Initial comments:

As explained above, links and details are not always provided. In more than one article, readers won't be able to replicate the fact check themselves. This is also the case regarding the articles having experts as only sources.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

This platform was initiated by Maharat Foundation, a Beirut based NGO, registration number 226/2006, and financial registration number 1462227. Maharat-News is reliant on administrative support from Maharat Foundation that is incubating Maharat-News and providing it with necessary logistics and financial resources. Maharat-News is working currently on a sustainability plan.

As for Maharat Foundation, It receives financial support to implement its projects according to its strategic plan from a group of donors, especially United Nations development agencies such as UNICEF and international institutions such as Hivos and Deutsche Welle Academy.

Maharat Foundation receives financial support to implement its projects according to its strategic plan from a group of donors including international organizations. However, receiving financial support does not mean that Maharat changes its mission and priorities according to the donors. Donors do not interfere in Maharat's strategy and ways of implementation including editorial content.

http://maharatfoundation.org/en/about/who-we-are

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant lists the funding model of the Foundation, names some of its donors. 


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago)

Facto-Meter is operated by Maharat Foundation the core team working on Fact checking are Roula Mikhael, Layal Bahnam, Nada Saab, Hussein El Sherif, and Roula farhat

http://maharatfoundation.org/en/about/our-team 

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The applicant publishes a list of its senior team with their biographies.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago)

through the contact us page http://maharat-news.com/contact 

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The applicant has a clear setion inviting readers to contact the website. 


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago)

Attached is a link to the fact checking methodology http://maharat-news.com/fact-o-meter

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The articles explain step-by-step the methodology followed in verifying the stories.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

In the last paragraph of the methodology section (http://maharat-news.com/fact-o-meter) we add the possibility of readers to submit claims and the criteria for claims to be factchecked with a specific email.

إقتراح تصريح أو وعد للتحقق منه

يمكن لمتتبعي ال fact-o-meter ارسال اقتراحات لفريق التحرير للتحقق منها عبر ارسالها من إلى العنوان التالي: factometer@maharat-news.com

يقوم فريق العمل برصد تصاريح ابرز الفرقاء السياسيين والمسؤولين المتداولة في الاعلام ومواقع التواصل الاجتماعي والبيانات الرسمية والحملات الانتخابية. كما يمكن تلقي اقتراحات من المواطنين للتحقق من تصاريح معينة. لا يمكن التحقق من جميع الاقتراحات المرسلة، الا ان الاقتراحات التي يقع الاختيار عليها يجب ان تستوفي الشروط التالية:

على التصريح ان يكون مبنيا على وقائع ليسهل التحقق من دقته

ان يكون محتوى التصريح منطقي وقابل للتصديق

ان يكون محتوى الخبر ذات قيمة 

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant replied and added a clear invitation to the readers to send claims to be verified. We changed the assessment from 'partially compliant' to 'fully complint'


Initial comment:

The applicant provides a general email to communicate with the team but it doesn't make clear to te readers that they can use it to submit claims to fact'check. It is the same channel of communication used for the website as a whole and not specifically for the fact-checking section (the usual "contact-us" section).


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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.

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

http://maharat-news.com/fact-o-meter in the methodology section we refer to the way to address corrections as below:

سياسة التصحيح أو التحديث

للمنصة سياسة شفافة في ما يخص تصحيح، تعديل او تحديث للتص الاصلي، حيث يتم تحديث النص بالمعلومات الجديدة، وتتم الاشارة الى اي اضافة او تعديل على النص الاصلي وتاريخ التحديث.

يوضح التصحيح المعلومات الصحيحة التي تمت إضافتها إلى التقرير. إذا لزم الأمر، فإنه يكرر المعلومات غير الصحيحة للإشارة الى المعلومات الموردة سابقا. كما يشار صراحة الى تأثير التصحيح على التصنيف فيما لو أثرت المعلومات المضافة على نتيجة التحقق. يتم ذلك عبر اضافة فقرة على التقرير بعنوان تصحيح مع شرح للمعلومات الاضافية وتأثيرها على التصنيف.

كما نقوم بتصحيح الأخطاء المطبعية والأخطاء النحوية والأخطاء الإملائية وغيرها من الأخطاء الصغيرة التي يمكن ان ترد في التقارير عند التنبه لها دون الاشارة الى انه تم تصحيح هذه الاخطاء المطبعية.

من الممكن ايضا ان نضيف معلومات إلى التقارير بعد نشرها، ليس كتصحيح وإنما كخدمة للقراء. تتضمن الأمثلة ردًا من المتحدث الذي تلقيناه بعد النشر، أو الأخبار العاجلة او التطورات ذات الصلة بالتحقق التي تستجد بعد النشر.

كما نستقبل اقتراح القراء للتصحيح او التحديث التي نتلقاها على البريد الالكتروني: factometer@maharat-news.com 

Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant added a section on its correction policy as a reply to our request. We changed the assessment from "non compliant" to "fully compliant"


Initial comment:

I  asked the applicant to provide evidence of its correction policy but didn't get a reply.

There is no such policy  via the link provided or even in the website in general; 


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.

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

Maharat Foundation
14-Jan-2020 (6 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago
Naglaa Elemary Assessor
26-Feb-2020 (5 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant indicated that no corrections were requested since the start of the fact-check section. Upon our request, the applicant showed commitment to send examples in the futrure. We changed the assessment from 'non compliant' to 'fully compliant'

We took in account that the fact-checking section is new 

  Initial comment:

The applicant indicated that no correction has been done yet. I asked if they can commit to send examples as soon as a correction is requested but I didn't get any reply to date. In the absence of a clear and transparent policy of corrections, I opted for 'non compliant'.


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Naglaa Elemary.