The Washington Post Fact Checker

Organization: The Washington Post Fact Checker
Applicant: Glenn Kessler
Assessor: Margot Susca
Conclusion and recommendations
on 22-May-2019 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca wrote:

If IFCN were ever to standardize its practice for news organizations starting fact checking sub-groups or for independent groups interested in doing "just" fact checking, The Fact Checker should be its model. Information is clear, concise and easy-to-use. Its fact checks don't show bias and the group is transparent about who it is, what it does and how it does it. 

I will note that in my ~2 years conducting IFCN assessments, I believe this may be the first I have done for an organization that has its fact checks behind a pay wall. I mention it not to criticize the operation or its work, just to note it. 

on 22-May-2019 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca 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.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The landing page of The Fact Checker makes that clear: www.washingtonpost.com/factchecker There is also an extensive "About The Fact Checker" page, some of which was updated in response to last year's assessment: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/ Key section: "Since 2013, The Washington Post has been owned by Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, as a personal investment via Nash Holdings LLC. The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post, which is managed separately from the editorial and opinion section of The Post.”

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. 


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago)
Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. 


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our goals and standards are described in the "About The Fact Checker" page: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad We strive to apply The Pinocchio Test consistently and fairly, frequently referring back to previous fact checks to make sure we rate similar types of claims in the same manner. We seek items to fact check based on whether the claim is newsworthy and would help to advance better understanding of complex policy issues. Over time, we aim to fact check a similar number of claims from each party, though we do not engage in a "counting" exercise that would result in a lowering of the standard of what we fact check. I have attached ten full-fledged fact checks plus a recent article on our database of Trump's false and misleading claims and a link to a YouTube video. Many of our fact checks come in both text and video formats, and we also have a weekly series of video fact checks produced for distribution on YouTube.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/05/08/have-palestinians-received-more-aid-than-any-group-history/?utm_term=.d6090e628c23

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/05/02/trumps-claim-amazing-success-cutting-opioid-prescriptions/?utm_term=.78f9e013cfc0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/05/01/bidens-false-claim-that-no-one-rich-got-trumps-tax-cuts/?utm_term=.2b06576b1f1e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/29/president-trump-has-made-more-than-false-or-misleading-claims/?utm_term=.f2ff193a6309

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/24/what-steele-dossier-said-vs-what-mueller-report-said/?utm_term=.a262212e07cf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/17/trump-harris-campaigns-sketchy-boasts-about-small-dollar-contributions/?utm_term=.e0934162816f

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/05/schumers-claim-that-blue-slips-were-longstanding-requirement-judicial-nominees/?utm_term=.23d581e0119f

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/04/trumps-false-claims-about-mexicos-immigration-system/?utm_term=.540a8b2f6843

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/29/kamala-harriss-careful-answer-jailing-parents-whose-kids-missed-school/?utm_term=.d6a17c30efd1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/28/fact-checkers-video-guide-beto-orourkes-drunk-driving-arrest/?utm_term=.cc5be6b97f7e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/26/trumps-outdated-spin-black-unemployment-rate/?utm_term=.69d740dce82b

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/21/klobuchar-cites-bad-data-claim-credit-reducing-black-incarceration/?utm_term=.701a15e0cb37

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. Recent fact checks listed on the site at the time of this assessment (May 21) included those on claims or statements made by Democrats (Harris and Biden) as well as Republicans (Trump). 


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/ Key section: "Consistent with Washington Post policy, no one working on The Fact Checker may engage in partisan political activity or make contributions to candidates or advocacy organizations.”

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. Policy is clear. Its About The Fact Checker site notes the following, which is noted in its application: 

"Consistent with Washington Post policy, no one working on The Fact Checker may engage in partisan political activity or make contributions to candidates or advocacy organizations. Since 2013, The Washington Post has been owned by Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, as a personal investment via Nash Holdings LLC. The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post, which is managed separately from the editorial and opinion section of The Post. In 2019, The Fact Checker received a $250,000 grant from Google News Initiative/YouTube to expand production of video fact checks."


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We provide as many links as possible to all sources and documents used in assembling the fact check. Often, we will embed documents within the fact check so readers have quick access to the material. We have never received a complaint about lack of transparency and in fact are often complimented on how much material we provide to readers. 

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. Clearly stated and, when I went through several of its recent fact checks, sources and evidence were clearly articulated and explained. 


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

As stated on the "About The Fact Checker" page, The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. This year, we have added a disclosure of an additional source of funding: "In 2019, The Fact Checker received a $250,000 grant from Google News Initiative/YouTube to expand production of video fact checks."

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. Clearly stated. 


done_all 4a marked as Fully 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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

A bio of the author appears at the bottom of each fact check. The "About The Fact Checker" page provides extensive detail on Glenn Kessler, who has run The Fact Checker since 2011: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad In response to last year's assessment, we have added bios of the other two members of the Fact Checker team on this page. In effort at greater transparency, we have also added a video at the top of the "About The Fact Checker" page that introduces the team members and helps explain our process and criteria for fact checks. The video also highlights the IFCN code of principles.

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. This section--as well as many others--of its About The Fact Checker site could and should serve as a model for other independent fact check sites or fact check arms of news organizations' sites. You know who Kessler is and his staff bios are easy to find and explain who they are and what their experience is. Its site reads, "We will strive to be dispassionate and non-partisan, drawing attention to inaccurate statements on both left and right. But we also fact check what matters -- and what matters are people in power."


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

There is a contact form at the bottom of each fact check. The bio of the authors also provides email and twitter contacts, as does the "About The Fact Checker" page. About half of our fact checks are the result of reader queries. 

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. It would be extremely easy to reach out to individual members of the Fact Check team. I pulled the bio for Meg Kelly, a video editor with the Fact Checker at The Washington Post. You can see here in the screen shot from the site that there are a few ways to "connect" with Kelly. 

Also, there is an email listed on its site as factchecker@washpost.com where people also may connect. I emailed the site saying I was from IFCN at 11:23 a.m. on May 21. I received a response from Sal Rizzo three minutes later and another from Glenn Kessler one minute after that so the email clearly is monitored and accessible. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2019-05-... (422 KB)
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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This is outlined on the "About The Fact Checker" page: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.a81654a2820e  As noted above, we have also produced a video for that page which takes viewers inside our process and how we conduct fact checks. 

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. The site includes detailed and thorough information about its methodology. It also posts a video that explains its work and methodology. 


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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

At the bottom of each fact check, there is a link to this form: https://hosted-washpost.submissionplatform.com/sub/hosted/5c911f64439aa20034c4f0b7


Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. Easy to use and clear. I've included a screen shot to show just how simple it is. I also note in its About The Fact Checker information it includes this line, "The success of this project depends, to a great extent, on the involvement of you--the reader." It's nice to see that the site truly attempts to engage its readers. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2019-05-... (191 KB) Screen Shot 2019-05-... (191 KB)
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 Washington Post Fact Checker
12-May-2019 (1 year ago)
Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. The Fact Checker links directly to the Washington Post's corrections policy from its About The Fact Checker site. 


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.

Margot Susca Assessor
21-May-2019 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Fully compliant. 


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Margot Susca.