Observador Fact-Check

Organization: Observador - Fact Check
Applicant: Miguel Pinheiro
Assessor: Francisco Rolfsen Belda
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

The organization clarified its non-partisanship policy in 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 can not 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.


From the assessor: 

Considering this clarification, the assessment of criterion 2b has been updated to Fully compliant.


Conclusion and recommendations
on 15-Aug-2018 (7 months ago)

Francisco Rolfsen Belda wrote:

Considering this assessment, I understand that Observador is completely compliant with almost all the IFCN principles, except for two of then (1B and 2B, partial compliance). So, the signatory should be ACCEPT SUBJECT TO EDITS.

Recommendation regarding criterion 1B: it's my understand that the signatory should pursue an increase in the frequency of fact-checking publication in order to meet the suggested average parameter of one per week.

Recommendation regarding criterion 2B: the signatory could include a clear statement in its "Estatuto Editorial" preventing not only the organization itself but also the staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations.

I finally suggest the editors to review the post with Q&A regarding fact checking methodology so to provide more details on policy for sources, also with a clearer explanation to readers on what is and what is not fact-checkable. 

on 15-Aug-2018 (7 months ago)

Francisco Rolfsen Belda recommended Accept with edits


Section 1: Organization

Criterion 1a
Proof of registration
Evidence required: Please provide evidence that the signatory is a legally-registered organization set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking or the distinct fact-checking project of a recognized media house or research institution.

Observador - Fact Check
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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/

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The signatory is the distinct fact-checking section of a legally registered media outlet (Observador) which is itself a journalistic branch of a media organization (Observador On Time, S.A.). Information about the organization, its legal registration number, address and share capital is provided here: https://observador.pt/termos-e-condicoes/.

Its foundation date, however, is not included among such information.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago
Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The organization has published fact-checks over the past three months less regularly than the recommended average of one per week. In the last 90 days, 12 reports were published, following an irregular frequency, with up to four reports concentrated on a same date (e.g., Dec. 29, 2017), as listed below:

Feb. 14, 2018

Feb. 01, 2018

Jan. 13, 2018

Jan. 11, 2018

Jan. 11, 2018

Jan. 05, 2018

Jan. 05, 2018

Dec. 29, 2017

Dec. 29, 2017

Dec. 29, 2017

Dec. 29, 2017

Dec. 15, 2017


done 1b marked as Partially compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

In our fact checks, we cover the complete political spectrum: the President, the prime-minister, a wide variety of ministers (Finance, Environment, Health, etc), the parties that support the government, and the opposition parties. Each political actor has already had, of course, positive and negative conclusions.

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:

In this one, the Government is “Right”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/houve-criacao-de-242-mil-postos-de-trabalho/

In this one, the Government is “Almost Right”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/ha-uma-criacao-de-confianca-nos-agentes-economicos-no-pais/

In this one, the Government is “Misleading”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/nao-houve-reforco-de-meios-depois-dos-incendios/

In this one, the Government is “Wrong”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/mudanca-do-infarmed-para-o-porto-ja-estava-prevista-ha-muito-tempo/

In this one, the President is “Wrong”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-portugal-esta-a-reestruturar-a-divida-pacificamente/

In this one, the leader of the main opposition party is “Wrong”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-passos-coelho-nunca-inaugurou-estradas-pontes-coisas-nenhumas/

In this one, one of the highest-ranking members of the main opposition party is “Right”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-so-a-taxa-de-juro-portuguesa-subiu-na-zona-euro/

Sometimes, the Fact Check is “Inconclusive”

http://observador.pt/factchecks/fact-check-o-que-contou-mais-para-o-ajustamento-despesa-ou-impostos/

We Fact Check a variety of subjects: Health

http://observador.pt/factchecks/poupar-26-mil-euros-turma-transferida-publico-pouco-provavel/

We Fact Check a variety of subjects: Environment

http://observador.pt/factchecks/ria-formosa-ministro-contou-tudo-sobre-as-demolicoes-no-parlamento/

And: this year, with have introduced articles with multiple fact checks on some big events. For example:

- Debates for the leadership election of the main opposition party:

1) http://observador.pt/2018/01/11/fact-check-as-certezas-e-falhas-no-ultimo-duelo/

2) http://observador.pt/2018/01/11/fact-check-os-factos-alternativos-de-rio-e-santana-no-segundo-debate/

- Major debates in parliament:

http://observador.pt/2018/02/14/fact-check-estivadores-crescimento-e-abandono-escolar/

- Big Political scandals:

http://observador.pt/especiais/fact-check-as-verdades-e-as-mentiras-das-muitas-versoes-na-novela-rarissimas/

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The signatory fact-checks claims made by a broad range of sides in its social and political context, considering their relevance, significance, impact, and also the (potential) reach of each claim. Topics covered recently have been mainly political, such as campaign debates, legislation and policy making, government members' pronouncements and parliamentary speeches. In previous months, the subjects were more diverse, including health issues, fire protection and trust in economic agents, among others. The signatory does assess all claims using the same standards, explaining "what is at stake" and confronting selected pieces of information or speech arguments with in-depth contextualization, historical background and accurate data retrieved from acknowledged referenced sources, including statistic reports and, in some cases (e.g. policy on health and cannabis), scientific publications, all of them fairly well documented in the texts. Based on the reading of most fact-check reports available at the signatory's website, I understand that positive and/or negative conclusions have been well distributed among different sides of the political spectrum. 


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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”.

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Based on the "Estatuto Editorial" of the media organization (available at: https://observador.pt/estatuto-editorial/), as well as on a general overlook of its political coverage, I assume that the signatory does not support electoral candidates nor advocate or take policy positions in ways that could affect its editorial exemption and independence for doing professional fact-checking. The Observador's public commitment statement affirms the organization independence and non-partisanship, valuing "democracy, freedom and pluralism", and claiming to be "subordinate [only] to the facts" and "accountable only to our readers". It allegedly "does not endorse any political program", but "assumes the founding principles of Western Civilization, derived from the Greco-Roman antiquity of Christianity and the Enlightenment." The outlet's fact-checking session also pledges publicly the IFCN code of principles, wicth was translated and clearly presented in a post from February 8, 2017, available here: https://observador.pt/2017/02/08/codigo-de-principios-para-fact-checks/.

However, beside these general principles regarding the media organization and its public commitment with the IFCN code of principles, I found no specific explanation about its "policies on preventing staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations". 


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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.

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.

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The signatory provides links, among other means of identification, both to the sources of the claims and to the evidence used in the fact-checking process. Statements to be checked are identified according to the author, his/her position, the date and place where they were rendered. Linked sources include previous journalistic reports (from the same Observador and other news organizations as well), lists of questions originally forwarded to the authorities concerned, literal transcription of speeches or dialogues of government authorities, official documents available online (including law decree and government statements), data charts, and PDF files uploaded and available for retrievement from a database. I have not found an specific page or document explaining the signatory's policy on sources, but, as mentioned in its application form, this topic is addressed in a post with questions and answers regarding the fact-checking initiative, signed by the executive director from Observador, Mr. Miguel Pinheiro: "[Question] Can readers scrutinize the Observador's Fact Checks? [Answer] Of course yes. In order for the research to be done in a transparent manner, the Observador provides readers with all the data accessed and, whenever possible, provide links so that readers can access the sources of information." Available here: https://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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/

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Public information about the ownership structure of Observador is provided in the format of a list called "Estrutura acionista" (Available here: https://observador.pt/ficha-tecnica). The list identifies, by the full name, all the organization's shareholders, allegedly ordered in accordance to their respective amount of share, as informed in the signatory's application form, although their percentages are not reported. When the shareholder is a corporate fund or group, the name of the representative person is disclosed. The company's share capital is informed under the "Termos and Condições" page as being equivalent to "€ 1,342,800 (one million, three hundred and forty-two thousand, eight hundred euros)" (Available at: https://observador.pt/termos-e-condicoes/). It's worth mentioning that the Observador's website does not provide specific information about spendings during the current year nor about eventual revenue sources directly associated with its fact-checking initiative, compliance requirements that, according to my understanding, may be applied only to standalone organizations. 


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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/

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Observador provides a list of all journalists working in the newsroom along with a short professional biography, individual picture, email address and links for the reader to follow each author and to access a repository with all articles and stories written by him/her. Available here: https://observador.pt/autores/.   


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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

Observador - Fact Check
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

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

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Readers can easily reach out the authors of any fact-checking report from Observador using email (which is informed under the author's credit). A comment session is also available for identified users, providing a public forum for open complaints and discussion on the reports. Authors can be reached through their Twitter account as well -- their id is informed right above the email icon. Other means for contacting the newsroom are detailed in a exclusive contact page, available here: https://observador.pt/contactos/


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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/

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Explanation regarding fact-check methodology is provided through (a) the translation of the IFCN's code of principles and (b) a post with Q&A about fact-checking signed by the executive director from Observador, Mr. Miguel Pinheiro. They are respectively available at the links below:

(a) http://observador.pt/2017/02/08/codigo-de-principios-para-fact-checks/

(b) http://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/

Although both pages are public reachable, they are not placed in a specially visible or privileged location at the website. It requires the reader to scroll down the browser almost to the bottom of the fact-check session, after dozens of regular reports, in order to find these two links among other old posts, since they are all organized in a chronological sequence. 


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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. 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: http://observador.pt/factchecks/ja-ha-1-milhao-de-pessoas-a-viver-com-o-salario-minimo/)

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Observador provides an specific email address (factcheck@observador.pt) for the readers to send claims to fact-check. The openness for readers' participation and contribution is mentioned in the post with questions and answers about fact-checking signed by the executive director from Observador, Mr. Miguel Pinheiro. This same post explains that fact-checkable issues arise "whenever someone makes a statement that raises doubts in the public space", although it doesn't make a clear point on what is not fact-checkable. This post is available here: http://observador.pt/especiais/como-vao-ser-os-novos-fact-checks-do-observador/


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 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.

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Observador offers a generic reference to how corrections are conducted, as mentioned in the post with questions and answers about fact-checking signed by Mr. Miguel Pinheiro, precisely in the topic named "Does Observador think Fact Checks are infallible?". In the answer, it says: "[when errors happen, journalists] always follow the same procedure: they correct the information, giving it publicity; and evaluate what went wrong to try to prevent the error from repeating itself". 


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.

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
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

In a Fact Check concerning a political decision by the government, we added quotes of ulterior statements by a high ranking public official and a minister. Although it didn't change the outcome, it provided further context. The changes are signaled in the end of the article:

http://observador.pt/factchecks/mudanca-do-infarmed-para-o-porto-ja-estava-prevista-ha-muito-tempo/

In a Fact Check concerning fiscal policy, we not only added corrections, but also changed the conclusion from “Misleading” to “Right”. The changes were clearly stated in the article: http://observador.pt/2016/09/16/fact-check-centeno-reduziu-mesmo-a-carga-fiscal/

In a Fact Check concerning the public deficit, we added explanations and informations. The changes were clearly stated in the article:

http://observador.pt/factchecks/novo-banco-e-o-impacto-no-defice-ainda-mais-negativo-ou-tambem-positivo/

Francisco Rolfsen Belda Assessor
08-Mar-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The signatory's application form provides three examples of corrections made in fact-checking reports. Two of them clearly informed when (date and time) the corrections were made.      


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Francisco Rolfsen Belda.