Observador - Fact Check

Organization: Observador - Fact Check
Applicant: Miguel Pinheiro
Assessor: Sergio Lüdtke
Conclusion and recommendations
on 23-Dec-2019 (5 months ago)

Sergio Lüdtke wrote:

The Applicant is a media organization that has a fact-checking section on its website. 

Observador is very experienced in the fact-checking work and already is the third time submitting its application to the IFCN.

Generally speaking, the applicant follows the IFCN code of principles. Still, I would like to make a few recommendations that can make life easier for its readers and give even greater transparency to its fact-checking work:

1) Link on all pages to its editorial commitments, its correction policies, and its working methodology.

2) Remove the subscription requirement for access to pages that explain how the medium does its work.

3) Include guidelines on how to submit claims for verification on every page of the section.

4) Include on all pages a link to the lists of authors that produce verification content. List the biographies of these professionals and their commitments to impartiality and non-alignment with political parties.

on 23-Dec-2019 (5 months ago)

Sergio Lüdtke 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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago)

In our “Terms and Conditions” page we have information about our official registration, with the legal number “510 914 713”: http://observador.pt/termos-e-condicoes/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago)

Observador has a fact-checking section on the website, and it has frequently published reports about suspicious content shared on social networks. The evidence provided by the applicant is solely the company registration information reported on a Terms and Commitments page on the organization's website. It was not possible to search online for documentation proving the company's registration.


done 1a marked as Partially compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

This is our Fact Check section: 

https://observador.pt/seccao/observador/fact-check/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Yes, the applicant publishes reports that evaluate distinct claims exclusively based on their accuracy, and it does so regularly.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

In our fact checks, we cover the complete political spectrum: the President, the prime-minister, a wide variety of ministers, the parties that support the government, and the opposition parties. Each political actor has already had, of course, positive and negative conclusions. We have also done Fact Checks focused on general fake news that are spread on social platforms.

We also have a wide range of conclusions, so as not to have black-or-white decisions: “Right”, “Almost Right”, “Far-Fetched”, “Inconclusive”, “Misleading” and “Wrong”.

Here are our 10 examples:

1) In this one, the prime-minister is "Wrong"

https://observador.pt/factchecks/costa-nao-sugeriu-que-os-professores-de-portugues-emigrassem/

2) In this one the prime-minister is "Far fetched"

https://observador.pt/factchecks/a-seguranca-social-ganhou-22-anos-de-estabilidade/

3) In this one the prime-minister is "Almost right" on 2 fact-checks

https://observador.pt/especiais/verdades-mentiras-e-enganos-do-frente-a-frente-de-antonio-costa-e-rui-rio/

4) In this one the prime-minister is "Right"

https://observador.pt/factchecks/portugal-esta-a-crescer-acima-da-media-europeia/

5) In this one the leader of the opposition is "Right" on 1 fact-check

https://observador.pt/especiais/verdades-mentiras-e-enganos-do-frente-a-frente-de-antonio-costa-e-rui-rio/

6) In this one the leader of the opposition is "Wrong" on 1 fact-check

https://observador.pt/especiais/verdades-mentiras-e-enganos-do-frente-a-frente-de-antonio-costa-e-rui-rio

7) This is an example of one of our Fact Checks that focus on general fake news that are spread on social platforms:

https://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-ministra-da-saude-da-holanda-limpa-as-ruas-duas-horas-por-dia/

8) We Fact Check a variety of subjects: Justice, for example

https://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-os-processos-pendentes-nos-tribunais-cairam-35/

9) 8) We Fact Check a variety of subjects: Health, for example

https://observador.pt/factchecks/agua-limao-e-salsa-ajudam-a-limpar-o-figado-e-os-rins/

10) We have articles with multiple fact checks on some big events. For example, a debate with the leaders of the main parties in our recent general elections:

https://observador.pt/especiais/verdade-ou-mentira-6-fact-checks-ao-ultimo-debate-entre-os-seis-candidatos/



Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Although some of the links provided are closed due to pay-wall, it was possible to verify in them and in other publications available on the website that Observador covers a variety of speakers and themes in its Fact-checking section. Observador assesses the claims using the same standards.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Observador is independent from any political party or movement.

In our site, we have a link to our editorial principles: http://observador.pt/estatuto-editorial/

Here is the translation of two of the sentences:

“Observador is an online daily, independent and free”

“Observador seeks the truth and is only binded by facts. We will never be pressured by political party or economical or group interests. We are accountable only to our readers”.

Our non-partisanship policy is explained here https://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/ (question number 10). Observador informs that, according to national legislation, the organization cannot prevent journalists from exercising their political participation rights. However, in accordance to its non-partisanship policy, and for the sake of transparency and independence, the company complies to make sure that none of its journalists incurs in any kind of incompatibility in this area.

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

In its "Estatuto Editorial," Observador presents itself as an independent, free online journal that seeks the truth, and it is subordinate to the facts. It also mentions that it is not conditioned by partisan and economic interests or by any group logic. Evaluating the content of publications confirms this commitment.

The webpage where the organization presents the commitments and rules of its fact-checking editorial is accessible only to subscribers, and the link is not disclosed on the section pages. The commitment is an item that needs more transparency.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

At Observador, we have publicly adopted, and published, the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles (http://observador.pt/2017/02/08/codigo-de-principios-para-fact-checks/). This, of course, includes point 2 (“A commitment to transparency of sources).

Also, all our Fact Checks have links to documents and to articles from other media outlets, the original sources of video or audio clips, full references to any experts interviewed and, when useful, charts with data. (Some examples here: https://observador.pt/especiais/verdades-mentiras-e-enganos-do-frente-a-frente-de-antonio-costa-e-rui-rio/)

We have also created an email address specifically for our fact checks: if our readers want any additional information, they can ask for it and we will provide it.

We have also published an article detailing how our fact checks are made (http://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/), with specific references to the publicity of sources.

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Observador reports that it has adopted IFCN's commitments regarding transparency of sources and says that all of its Fact-Checks provide links. In evaluating the contents of publications, however, one realizes that the medium could give even more links to its readers. This action would be necessary to offer the readers the real experience of following the path of verification.

Observador also reports that it has created a specific email to its readers can contact fact-checkers. However, what is visible in the articles pages is only the email from the report author.

The organization also reports that it has published an article detailing how its fact checks are made, with specific references to the publicity of sources. As mentioned earlier, this page is accessible to subscribers only and is not visible in the articles published in the Fact-Check section.


done 3a marked as Partially compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

In our site, we have a list of all our shareholders (under the title “Estrutura acionista”). They are presented according to the amount of shares they hold: http://observador.pt/ficha-tecnica/. We also published an article with all the answers readers might have about the project, including funding and organization: http://observador.pt/explicadores/tudo-o-que-precisa-de-saber-sobre-o-observador/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The organization does not list its sources of funding, although it makes it clear how it is funded and identifies on a page called Fact Sheet its ownership and its shareholders.


done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

We have a page with all the journalists of Observador. All of them can, at any time, write a fact check: http://observador.pt/autores/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The list of authors provided is the list of all journalists on the website, with photos and the editorial section they belong to. It is unclear whether all journalists also write for the Fact-Check area. There is no biography of these journalists available on the website, nor is the author list page easily found.


done 4b marked as Partially compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

This is the page with all our contacts: http://observador.pt/contactos/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

In Fact-check pages, the only point of contact available is the author's email. The others, like phone number, chat, or general e-mail, are listed on a Contacts page (the same page provided by the applicant).

There is a direct link to the Contacts page in the footer, but since the Fact-Check section's home is infinite, probably, the readers will not see Footer easily.

There is another option to reach the Contacts page, but it goes through the menu. With the drop-down menu open, readers need to click "Sobre" (About), and only then they can see the link to the page searched.

It is asking the readers a lot to understand all this way.

It would be best to keep a point of contact on every page of the Fact-check section.


done 4c marked as Partially compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

We have two articles regarding this subject. One is the translation of the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles (http://observador.pt/2017/02/08/codigo-de-principios-para-fact-checks/), which we have adopted. The other is an article about the general principles and methodology of our fact checks: http://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

On two pages, whose addresses were provided by the applicant, the organization introduces the IFCN principles and commits to follow them. It also describes how the Fact-Checker does its work.

Unfortunately, readers cannot easily find these pages. And the webpage that describes the methodology is opened to subscribers only.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

We created an email exclusively for our fact checking project, that can be used to send corrections or suggestions of future Fact Checks (factcheck@observador.pt). We have also publicized it in our article announcing our new fact checking formats: http://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/. And, at the end of each Fact Check, we have, near the “Share” and “Comments” area, the emails to which readers can send corrections or suggestions (view, for example, here: https://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-proposta-de-os-pre-reformados-trabalharem-em-part-time-e-do-cds/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The process by which readers can submit claims for fact-check is unclear. Observador neither makes it clear that readers can do so.

At the end of the reports, it is possible to see only the email of the author. And this happens even in the example presented in this application.


done 5b marked as Partially compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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.

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

In the article “Como são os novos Fact Checks do Observador?” (http://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/) we write about our corrections policy, namely in the question “O Observador acha que os Fact Checks são infalíveis?” (“Does Observador think its Fact Checks are infalible?”). In it, we explain that, when there are any mistakes, we will correct the article and explicitly refer what the corrections were. We also provide the email any reader can use for corrections.

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The policy to address corrections is described in an article posted on the Observer website titled "Como são os novos Fact Checks do Observador?".

As mentioned before, this article is not easily accessible on the site as there is no highlight for it and its access is restricted to subscribers.


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.

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

Observador - Fact Check
21-Nov-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

— In a Fact Check concerning the financial track record of hospitals in the National Health Service, we changed the conclusion from “Misleading” to “Far-fetched”. The changes were clearly stated in the article: https://observador.pt/factchecks/ppp-no-hospital-de-braga-poupou-80-milhoes-de-euros-ao-estado/

— In a Fact Check concerning unemployment statistics, we added quotes of ulterior statements by the policy team of a political candidate. Although it didn't change the outcome, it provided further context. The changes are signaled in the end of the article: https://observador.pt/especiais/dez-factos-e-varias-mentiras-no-primeiro-debate-das-europeias/

Sergio Lüdtke Assessor
22-Dec-2019 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

It was possible to identify the correction made in the first article submitted by the applicant, "PPP no Hospital de Braga poupou 80 milhões de euros ao Estado?". The second, however, is accessible only to subscribers.


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Sergio Lüdtke.