The Conversation Australia

Organization: The Conversation FactCheck
Applicant: Lucinda Beaman
Assessor: Margot Susca
Conclusion and recommendations
on 13-Aug-2018 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca wrote:

This second year application of The Conversation (AU) is thorough.

The Conversation this past year has demonstrated its commitment to fact check claims from politicians who hold wide-ranging viewpoints on the political spectrum, and it worked on claims made by other news outlets disseminated on social media as well as others made by lobbyists for a banking group (to name a few). Its FactChecks are written by academics, who fill out disclosure statements and pledge they have no conflict of interest.

Staff members are clearly identified and easily contactable. Its correction policy is clear.

Its FactCheck policy is clear and transparent online as is its statement about its founders and supporters though I list it as partially compliant in this area (#4). Because it is a standalone organization, I believe The Conversation needs to explicitly list its spending for the last year or link to an annual report where a member of the public would be able to find it. 

on 13-Aug-2018 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca 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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The Conversation is a news and analysis site that publishes analyses by academics. Our FactChecks are commissioned by the FactCheck editor, penned by academics with subject expertise, edited by professional journalists trained in fact checking, and blind reviewed by a second academic expert. We do not allow opinion to creep into our FactChecks, and ensure only impartial and unbiased academics are commissioned to write and review FactChecks. We fact check public figures from all sides of politics and public life, and encourage readers to submit claims and quotes they think are worth checking.

The Conversation Media Group Limited is registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ABN: 44 142 923 653 and ACN: 142 923 653). As a not-for-profit, it is also registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Charity ABN 44 142 923 653, see here http://www.abr.business.gov.au/SearchByAbn.aspx?SearchText=44142923653). Our stakeholder report for 2017 is here: https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/14/2017_Stakeholder_Report_The_Conversation.pdf?1518052945 and includes detail on our FactCheck unit. 

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-are-indigenous-australians-the-most-incarcerated-people-on-earth-78528 (Claim made by community leader)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-was-it-four-degrees-hotter-110-000-years-ago-73045 (Claim made by independent Senator)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-will-700-000-workers-be-ripped-off-by-penalty-rate-cuts-as-bill-shorten-said-75048 (Claim made by left-leaning Labor Party)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-are-around-5-000-jobs-at-risk-if-pokies-are-removed-from-pubs-and-clubs-in-tasmania-91149 (Claim made by conservative Liberal Party)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-the-facts-on-birth-rates-for-muslim-couples-and-non-muslim-couples-in-australia-81183 (Claim shared by social media team of a national television show)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-can-native-title-only-exist-if-australia-was-settled-not-invaded-90540 (Claim made by conservative Liberal Party member)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-has-queensland-labor-created-more-than-four-times-as-many-jobs-as-the-lnp-87315 (Claim made by left-leaning Labor party)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-does-the-safe-schools-program-contain-highly-explicit-material-87437 (Claim made by conservative minor party One Nation)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-do-80-of-australians-and-up-to-70-of-catholics-and-anglicans-support-euthanasia-laws-76079 (comment made by author and euthanaisa campaigner)

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-bank-profits-belong-to-everyday-australians-88156 (Claim made by banking industry lobby group)

Our process: The FactCheck editors and readers identify a claim worth checking. We find an academic with real expertise, and no real or perceived conflicts of interest, to write the FactCheck. We also give the person we are fact-checking the right of reply. Our professional FactCheck journalists rigorously edit and fact-check the academics’ work. We then ask a second academic to be a blind reviewer. Our blind reviewers are required to be experts in their field and impartial in their analysis. They scrutinise the draft for errors or bias, without knowing who wrote it. Throughout the process, our FactCheck Editors play devil's advocate: pushing the experts to defend their reasoning, and removing unwanted opinion or jargon. Following that process, another experienced Conversation editor reads it with fresh eyes. On the rare occasion when mistakes are made, our corrections are quick and transparent. Above all, we want to be fair and accurate.

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our FactChecks are authored by academics. Every academic must fill in a disclosure statement EVERY time they write for The Conversation. This disclosure statement is published with their byline in the article. The disclosure questions: 1. Do you work for, consult with or own shares in any company or organisation that would benefit from this article? 2. Do you receive, or have you previously received, any relevant external funding, including government-funded, foundation or research council grants? 3. Do you have any other relevant affiliations that should be disclosed? This includes currently being a member of or volunteer for a political party, industry association, not-for-profit group, think tank or other politically active bodies.

We do not commission academics to author FactChecks if any of the answers to the disclosure questions present a real or perceived conflict of interest.

As for the editors who commission and edit the FactChecks, they are bound by our staff HR policy that says:

"Editors must always declare an interest when editing about something with

which he or she has a clear connection, this includes holding stock (shares)

in a company. See also policy on conflicts of interest.

The declaration of potential conflict should be made to the managing Editor

(ME) or Editor-in-chief (EIC) for a decision prior to starting on the work.

Full transparency means the Editor’s disclosure statement will appear on the

article to the public."

And also:

"Any time a question of fairness or accuracy is raised about any aspect of our

work, whether by an Author, subject or member of the public, the editors

involved should discuss the issue with the Managing Editor and or the Editor

in Chief to decide what response is warranted.... Normal activities - outside work, investments, political activism - pose special problems for journalists. Often, it's best to avoid activities that might interfere with your ability to function as a journalist. Alternatively, you may be precluded from working on certain topics."

And from our staff social media policy:

"Beware anything that could indicate your political preferences or views. This

doesn't mean you can't comment on particular policy areas, but don’t

deride or put down figures from any side of politics. Be careful of anything

that will appear partisan or identify you as hostile."

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We link to sources throughout our FactChecks, as detailed in our guide to the FactCheck process here: https://theconversation.com/just-the-facts-maam-a-guide-to-the-conversations-factcheck-process-61158

We require our Fact check authors to support their arguments with links to publicly available information, and/or to the spreadsheets they have used to make calculations based on custom-made data sets.

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago
Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The Conversation needs to explicitly list its spending for the last year or link to an annual report where a member of the public would be able to find it. 


done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As you can see, https://theconversation.com/au/factcheck, all our FactChecks identify the lead author and blind reviewer. Each author has their own profile page, which readers can find by clicking on their names and photos in the byline of the FactCheck. Our Conversation editor profiles are here https://theconversation.com/au/team 

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://theconversation.com/au/corrections and https://theconversation.com/au/contact-us. We also encourage readers to contact us with quotes they'd like FactChecked with this 'call-out- added to the end of every FactCheck article: "Have you ever seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible."

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://theconversation.com/just-the-facts-maam-a-guide-to-the-conversations-factcheck-process-61158. Our process was also profiled in Poynter here http://www.poynter.org/2016/should-journalists-outsource-fact-checking-to-academics/391230/ You can also view a video explaining the process here: https://theconversation.com/how-we-do-factchecks-at-the-conversation-73134

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This 'call out' is included at the end of every FactCheck: "Have you ever seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible." We frequently request FactCheck ideas from our readers, including through the nationally broadcast Q&A program, which is aired on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation every Monday: https://theconversation.com/the-conversation-to-fact-check-panellists-on-qanda-45714. See examples of Twitter call-outs here https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FACTCHECK%20%23qanda&src=typd&lang=en. During recent state elections, we have also asked readers to submit claims they would like us to fact check: https://theconversation.com/the-conversation-is-fact-checking-the-queensland-election-and-we-want-to-hear-from-you-86779

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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.

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://theconversation.com/au/corrections. From our staff HR policy: "When mistakes are made, we will correct – fully, quickly and ungrudgingly.”

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.

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

The Conversation FactCheck
01-Mar-2018 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our unique blind review process helps us ensure we catch errors before they are made. We made one correction to a 2015 article in 2018, after a reader pointed out we had the job title of a person discussed in the article incorrect. The article, and the correction note at the end, can be viewed here:

https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-have-any-refugees-who-came-to-australia-gone-on-to-be-terrorists-51192

Margot Susca Assessor
09-Aug-2018 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The evidence is fully compliant with the requirements 


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.