Re:Baltica

Organization: Re:Baltica
Applicant: Evita
Assessor: Martins Kaprans
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

Criterion 1a (more on what we have achieved recently - the www section in Russian, our own radio programm, publications in local outlets)

Criterion 1a The Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism Re:Baltica is a non-profit investigative journalism center based in Latvia, but working across all three Baltic states. Founded in August 2011, we focus on in-depth investigations of socially important issues in the Baltic region, such as corruption, crime, finances, entrepreneurship, health, human rights and disinformation. In the attachment you will find the document from Latvia's business registry showing the registration date of organisation, it's address and registration number.

Re:Check is a new iniciative by Re:Baltica launched exclusively for fact-checking and social media research. It is an independent unit with its own mission, tasks, team and website section. More information about Re:Check is available at

https://en.rebaltica.lv/about-us/ (English)

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/recheck/ (Latvian)

https://ru.rebaltica.lv/1483-2/ (Russian)

All fact-checking articles are published on Re:Check section of Re:Baltica (in Latvian and Russian). As all Re:Baltica work Re:Check stories are given to other media for free. All the fact-checking articles are published by of the main news portals in Latvia TVnet. Some of the stories also by several local news outlets.

Criterion 2a. (I changed the 10 fact-checks and added short explanation to each.)

Criterion 2a

Re:Check checks statements based on facts, not opinions. When checking the statement we always look for the data and other facts that support it or prove being incorrect. We do not write fact-checks relying on expert opinion, still we ask experts to recommend the most appropriate source and give the correct interpretation.

We always try to contact the person or organization making the statement before writing a piece, we check the source he or she provides and we mention it in the article. If we are not able to reach for the comment we tell the reasons in the article. At least two editors have to agree on the grading. In the case of disagreement third editor is asked for an opinion.

Ten factRe:Check checks statements based on facts, not opinions. When checking the statement we always look for the data and other facts that support it or prove being incorrect. We do not write fact-checks relying on expert opinion, still we ask experts to recommend the most appropriate source and give the correct interpretation.

We always try to contact the person or organization making the statement before writing a piece, we check the source he or she provides and we mention it in the article. If we are not able to reach for the comment we tell the reasons in the article. At least two editors have to agree on the grading. In the case of disagreement third editor is asked for an opinion.

Ten fact-checks:

1. We debunked the statement made by Riga City Council officials saying that the municipal waste removal tariff will raise only by 9%. Riga Municipality has granted the monopoly waste management rights to one company for 20 years: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/08/atkritumu-tarifa-pieaugums-riga-tiesam-tikai-9/

2. We wrote how Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spreads lies in social media and state TV channels about what happened at the beginning of World War II 80 years ago: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/09/kurs-izraisija-karu-jeb-ka-krievijas-diplomatija-vilto-vesturi/

3. We wrote why the Minister of Finance of Latvia was wrong saying that the state managed Deposit Guarantee Fund is "full of money" and there is no need to borrow for the guaranteed compensation payments to the customers after the collapse of "PNB Banka": https://rebaltica.lv/2019/08/vai-reiram-ir-taisniba-par-noguldijumu-garantiju-fondu/

4. The director general of the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia has made several false statements about unemployment benefits. We saw that important as the Employers' Confederation is the official partner to Latvian Government on social policy issues: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/09/mengelsone-maldina-par-bezdarbnieku-pabalstiem/

5. We debunked myths and conspiracies spread in Latvian social media on 5G cell phone network: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/08/panika-par-5g-tiklu-ka-ta-radusies-un-vai-ta-ir-pamatota/

6. One of the Latvian parliamentarians claimed that climate change is not human caused. We wrote why he was wrong: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/07/dombrava-maldina-par-cilveku-ietekmi-uz-klimata-parmainam/

7. The Prime Minister of Latvia was partly wrong stating that the salaries of Estonian teachers are much than those of Latvian teachers only because of succesfull school network reform in Estonia https://rebaltica.lv/2019/07/kapec-kaiminos-sanem-vairak-karins-maldina-par-igaunijas-pedagogu-algam/

8. We proved that the head of Latvian Advertising Association was wrong claiming that advertising and marketing had no impact on the levels of alcohol consumption: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/07/vai-reklamas-neietekme-alkohola-paterinu/

9. Prominent conservative Latvian parliamentarian disseminated misinformation about gay rights provided by Latvian law: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/stepanenko-par-viendzimuma-paru-tiesibam-meli/

10. We analysed the media campaign of Latvian Restaurants association aiming for state tax cuts and proved several claims were incorrect: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/07/pazinojums-par-738-restoranu-slegsanu-parspilets-un-nekorekts/

Criterion 6b (We have our first correction, so I added it)

Criterion 6b

There has been one correction so far:

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/08/panika-par-5g-tiklu-ka-ta-radusies-un-vai-ta-ir-pamatota/


Conclusion and recommendations
on 11-Oct-2019 (5 months ago)

Martins Kaprans wrote:

The applicant qualifies as a fact-checking organization.

on 11-Oct-2019 (5 months ago)

Martins Kaprans recommended Accept


on 04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

Martins Kaprans wrote:

The applicant qualifies as a fact-checking organization. However, it should provide a clear plan for this year which shows the regularity of fact-checking publications. Likewise, in line the IFCN criteria, it should publish an overview of spending for this year. 

on 04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

Martins Kaprans 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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

The Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism Re:Baltica is a non-profit investigative journalism center based in Latvia, but working across all three Baltic states. Founded in August 2011, we focus on in-depth investigations of socially important issues in the Baltic region, such as corruption, crime, finances, entrepreneurship, health, human rights and disinformation. In the attachment you will find the document from Latvia's business registry showing the registration date of organisation, it's address and registration number.

Re:Check is a new iniciative by Re:Baltica launched exclusively for fact-checking and social media research. It is an independent unit with its own mission, tasks, team and website section. More information about Re:Check is available at

https://en.rebaltica.lv/about-us/ (English)

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/recheck/ (Latvian)

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

The compliant has a distinct fact-checking section and has accumulated relevant fact-checking experience over the past five years.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)
Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

A separate fact-checking section operates since June 2019. Articles are published regularly.  


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

Re:Check checks statements based on facts, not opinions. When checking the statement we always look for the data and other facts that support it or prove being incorrect. We do not write fact-checks relying on expert opinion, still we ask experts to recommend the most appropriate source and give the correct interpretation.

We always try to contact the person or organization making the statement before writing a piece, we check the source he or she provides and we mention it in the article. If we are not able to reach for the comment we tell the reasons in the article.

At least two editors have to agree on the grading. In the case of disagreement third editor is asked for an opinion.

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/akcizes-nodoklis-svecova-cite-datus-arpus-konteksta/

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/stepanenko-par-viendzimuma-paru-tiesibam-meli/

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/kurs-nodzeras-gobzema-izteikas-par-alkoholismu-neatbilst-patiesibai/

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/uzvaras-pieminekla-nojauksana-gaponenko-un-bb-melo/

https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/dzivesbiedru-likums-pavluts-maldina-ar-datiem/

And more historic investigations done by Re:Check mother's organisation Re:Baltica.

https://rebaltica.lv/2018/08/recepte-ka-latviesus-par-rusofobiem-zimet-un-pabalstit-sev-draudzigos-politikus/

https://rebaltica.lv/2018/09/pasi-puta-pasi-dega/

https://rebaltica.lv/2018/08/tu-nekad-neticesi-kas-notika-pec-tam/

https://rebaltica.lv/2018/08/nevienam-nav-aizliegts-but-stulbam/

https://rebaltica.lv/2017/04/propagandas-mini-razotnes/

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The provided links demonstrate that applicant has covered various topics and has conducted fact-checking in a balanced manner.   


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

None of Re:Baltica staff (full time journalists, volunteers, board members, etc.) actively engages in political or other forms of advocacy. All Re:Baltica journalists follow the Code of Ethics of The Latvian Association of Journalists. Our principles are openness, impartiality and accuracy. Re:Check is politically neutral and assesses statements from all sides of the political spectrum. Re:Check follows the same procedure for every fact-check and does not express opinions on the claims it checks.

The nonpartisanship policy is described and publicly available on Re:Check website. Please see https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/recheck/


Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

The applicant is a non-partisan organization that has defined clear guidelines to ensure impartiality.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

The source policy is described and publicly available on Re:Check website https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/recheck/

We always name the sources (databases, reports, legal documents) and provide the links in order to assess the validity of claims. If linkage is not possible (for example, a dataset is not publicly available on the internet) we use the data given by the authorities and state the source in the text. We also seek the guidance from experts to get the most respective data and an accurate interpretation. We always ask the person or organization making the statement to provide the evidence that supports it.

We also mention and provide the link if the similar statement has already been checked by other media outlets. We also try to explain the actual fact checking process step by step (for example, do we start by checking the sources or by asking the person or organization making the statement to provide the evidence). The aim is to let readers replicate the fact check and allow them to check the sources themselves. 

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

The applicant provides links to evidences that make it easy to replicate the fact-checking.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

Re:Baltica income is built from three sources. First is competitive grants, mostly from the institutions based in the EU/NATO countries (for example, we have been beneficiaries in the first competitive call for cross-border investigative journalism in EU, IJ4EU, Open Society Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Latvian Culture Capital Foundation, POBB program etc.). Second is our own income which we earn from teaching, moderating the events, doing research, scripting documentaries. Third source of income are donations, both from physical and legal persons, the list of which is attached to our annual reports. Re:Baltica has been recognised as the organisation which is doing the public good, therefore the donors can get the tax-break. All donors – individual or institutional – who give more than EUR 4999 have to sign an agreement which protects Re:Baltica’s editorial independence.

In 2018, 22 percent of our income were donations, 67 percent grants and 11 percent we earned ourselves.

As with other Re:Baltica stories Re:Check’s articles can be re-published free of charge without altering the content.

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The applicant's webpage has a separate section on its webpage where it provides detailed information about the sources of funding.


done_all 4a marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

The information about Re:Baltica board members, advisors and journalists can be found in the section About us.

Re:Check is a separate section of Re:Baltica with it’s own team. Short bios of the editors can be found here

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

All key authors and key actors are mentioned on the Re:Check webpage or on the Re:Baltica webpage.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

Readers can contact us by e-mail that can be found at the end of our articles or next to the posts on social media. People can also get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook where every fact-check is published. The e-mail is given on Re:Check website.

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)
The applicant actively and persistently engages with its audiences.

done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)
Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

The fact-checking methodology is publicly available and explained to general public.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

Readers are asked to provide statements and/or social media posts for fact check. The e-mail is a given on Re:Check website, at the end of our articles or next to the posts on social media. 

 

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

The feedback link is provided and the way how to send claims is explained.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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.

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

The corrections policy is described here: https://rebaltica.lv/2019/06/recheck/

We correct the story if there is factual mistake or substantial information comes in we didn't know before publishing the story. We will provide a note below the article that explains the correction and the date it is done.

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago)

The applicant has a transparent correction policy that is explained on the Re:Check webpage.


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

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

Re:Baltica
11-Jul-2019 (8 months ago)

There have been no corrections so far.

Martins Kaprans Assessor
04-Aug-2019 (8 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The Re:Check webpage enures the publication of corrections.


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Martins Kaprans.

Section 7: Eligibility to be a signatory

Criterion 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.

Criterion 1.2
The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.

Criterion 1.3
The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the three months prior to the date of application.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 1.5
The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.

Criterion 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.

Section 8: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

Criterion 2.1
The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Section 9: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Section 10: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

Criterion 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).

Criterion 4.2
Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 4.5
The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Section 11: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

Criterion 5.1
The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Section 12: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.