The Washington Post Fact Checker

Organization: The Washington Post Fact Checker
Applicant: Glenn Kessler
Assessor: Michael Wagner

Background

 I conducted a review of The Fact Checker's application. I read the fact checks and other links offered in the application and my own review of a randomly chosen set of fact checks conducted over the past several months. The only question I had about The Fact Checker’s work, when considering the assessment guidelines, was whether The Fact Checker describes “how” editorial control is exercised. However, not finding clear guidance on this issue from IFCN, I did not think this question was very important, especially since it is clear who the editor of the Fact Checker is and who the Fact Checkers editors are.

Assessment Conclusion

I believe The Fact Checker's renewal application should be accepted.

on 28-Dec-2021 (6 months ago)

Michael Wagner assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

The Fact Checker is the fact-checking unit at The Washington Post newspaper. It is an independent arm of the paper and produces high-quality fact checks that follow a consistent, transparent process that is clearly sourced, engagingly written, open to complaints/suggestions, and responsive to important claims made in the contemporary news ecology. The Fact Checker typically conducts more fact checks of those in power in the U.S., such as the president and lawmakers in the party(ies) that controls the House and the Senate. That said, there are notable exceptions to this, such as the extensive fact-checking done of the McAuliffe-Youngkin gubernatorial race – a race relevant to local readers and one that many believe has national implications. While, in general, there are more Democrats being checked than Republicans over the past several months, this imbalance is sensible since the Democrats have the majority in both legislative chambers and hold the White House. The imbalance does not suggest bias, but rather suggests a careful attention to The Fact Checker’s stated purpose.

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 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.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 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.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 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.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

This is the landing page of The Fact Checker within The Washington Post website: www.washingtonpost.com/factchecker There is also an extensive "About The Fact Checker" page: 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.”

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago)

The applicant clearly meets this criteria. The Fact Checker is a distinct unit within a legally registered organization and details are not hard to find on the newspaper's website.


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

1. The Fact Checker was started in September 2007 to provide fact checks during the 2008 presidential election. It was revived in January 2011, under the direction of Glenn Kessler, as a permanent feature of The Washington Post.

2. The Fact Checker is primarily three people -- two writers, including Kessler, and one video producer, who also writes stories. 

3. We aim to have a fact check at least four times a week. Fact checks are both in written form and in videos. We also produce a weekly newsletter with nearly 300,000 subscribers. In mid-2020, via Scribner, we published a best-selling book on President Trump's falsehoods: https://www.amazon.com/Donald-Trump-His-Assault-Truth/dp/1982151072  In 2021, we created a database of every false or misleading statement made by President Biden in the first 100 days: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/biden-fact-checker-100-days/

4. To fact check statements made by President Biden, lawmakers and advocacy groups and to highlight continued misinformation about the coronavirus. We focus especially on statements made by people in position of power. As Democrats currently control the White House and both houses of Congress, we likely will have more fact checks of Democrats in the coming year, just as Republicans did when the GOP controlled Congress and the White House at the start of Trump's term. We also will maintain a focus on highlighting examples of manipulated video. (In early 2021: we produced a Instagram guide to spotting manipulated video: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/19/how-spot-fake-video/?itid=sf_fact-checker) 

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago)

The Fact Checker's purpose is fact-checking. The Fact Checker tends to focus on fact checking Americans in positions of power, most notably, people who are or have been the President of the United States.


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

The landing page of The Fact Checker includes an archival function so you can view fact checks by month: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2019/05/?utm_term=.3b201c8a35a2 We aim for at least four fact checks a week. 

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker meets this criteria. They publish, on average, several fact checks per week and have done so for several years.


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The topics checked by The Fact Checker are almost always about an issue that could directly affect the well being of individuals, groups, or society more generally. For example, in recent days, there have been fact checks about the contents of a major infrastructure bill (focusing on who might benefit from some provisions in the bill), the structural integrity of some American bridges (clearly related to driver and passenger safety), claims about coronavirus numbers in the gubernatorial race (public safety, potential vote choice), and so forth. While there are some fact checks, such as an analysis of which VA gubernatorial candidate was "winning the Pinocchio race" are arguably not directly related to people or group's or society's well-being (though one could argue that the more candidates lie the worse off society is or that such a comparison speaks to the "functioning of the political system" in footnote 12 of the Guidelines for Assessors), in the main, the fact checks easily meet this requirement.


done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

We receive no such funding. The Washington Post is an independent newspaper. 

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker is compliant with this criteria and has been since its inception.


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago)

n/a

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker claims not to receive this type of funding and I have not been able to find any evidence suggesting otherwise.


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

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

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months 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. Over 11 years, we have written thousands of fact checks. We seek items to fact check based on whether the claim is newsworthy and would help to advance better understanding of complex policy issues. We hope 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. Our fact checks may come in both text and video formats.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/23/good-looking-marines-video-misrepresents-biden-inauguration/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/02/rick-scotts-zombie-claim-about-voter-fraud-2018/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/12/lauren-boeberts-tall-tale-about-mans-death-that-led-her-pack-heat/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/30/biden-falsely-claims-new-georgia-law-ends-voting-hours-early/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/27/no-officials-are-not-handing-out-harriss-picture-book-migrant-kids/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/26/apples-apples-senate-gop-infrastructure-proposal-is-smaller-than-it-appears/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/12/bidens-claim-that-average-rapist-rapes-about-six-times/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/14/this-man-says-hes-related-robert-e-lee-theres-no-evidence/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/18/fact-checking-senator-paul-dr-fauci-flap-over-wuhan-lab-funding/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/08/claim-that-us-government-already-has-power-lower-drug-prices/


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker follows a similar process across all of their fact checks, noting the claim and who made it, the evidence they have uncovered to assess whether the claim is accurate, mostly accurate, more or less half accurate, or an outright "whopper." The relevance and completeness of the evidence brought to bear on fact checks do not, in my estimation, systematically differs across checks from claimants in different political parties or people in differential positions of power (say president as compared to senator or NIH official).


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

This is described in the "About The Fact Checker" page, under the section "A Few Basic Principles": https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker About page works on their site, but the links provided (and the links at the bottom of some of their fact checks - links describing how their rating system works - are now dead links). The Fact Checker does not do as explicit of a job as they might to explain how they choose what to assess. That said, they do claim to check claims that are important to voters. Notably, they do not describe how they know the claims are important to voters - though in most cases, this is fairly obvious. The Fact Checker is compliant with the element of Criteria 2.2 about selecting claims.

Also notably, they do not claim to check claims important to non-voters, who are also citizens or residents of the country and part of the potential audience for the newspaper. This is editorializing on the assessor's (my) part, but it is valuable to fact check claims about issues important to those so removed from or disgusted by the governing system that they do not vote. Of course, most of these claims are also probably important to voters as well, but it is notable that voters are the audience The Fact Checker has in mind.

The Fact Checker, rightly in my view, does not make a systematic effort to check all sides equally (with respect to the number of fact checks made by, say, Republicans and Democrats). This is the proper perspective as focusing more attention 1) on those in power and 2) on those who make more questionable claims is a more fruitful and robust strategy with which to fulfill The Fact Checker's mission. 


done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

My review of a random sample of 20 fact suggest leads me to conclude that The Fact Checker is compliant with Criteria 2.3.


done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker is not an organization affiliated with a political party, politician, or candidate. I have never seen evidence of The Fact Checker or its writers showing support for a candidate, politician or party.


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

This is described in the "About The Fact Checker" page, under the section "A Few Basic Principles": https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad There is also a link to a detailed discussion of Washington Post policies on non-partisanship: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/guidelines/corrections.html?tid=a_inl


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker describes this policy on its site. The broader paper also has a set of guidelines available on this point that is easy to find on the newspaper's website.


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

My review of a random sample of 20 fact checks revealed that The Fact Checker identifies virtually all of their sources. It would usually be possible for a person, who had some reporting skill, to replicate their work based upon the trail of sources provided by The Fact Checker in the fact checks it produces.


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Primary sources are part and parcel of The Fact Checker's fact checks. They are the sources used most often in the reporting of the random sample of fact checks I reviewed for this assessment.


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker meets this criteria; notably The Fact Checker seeks out additional sources that might provide evidence, or, in some cases draws conclusions, that deviate from the conclusion made by The Fact Checker. The Fact Checker also provides their reasoning for their conclusion as compared to those (usually partisan) sources that disagree.


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker meets Criteria 3.4., writing in a voice that helps the reader understand why a particular source might be construed as having interests that could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.


done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 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).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago)

The Fact Checker is a fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker is under another parent organization and is part of The Washington Post, operating in the National News section of the paper. The paper is owned by Jeff Bezos.


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

On the "About The Fact Checker" page, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/, it says: "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.”


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker is compliant with this criteria. On the "About The Fact Checker" page, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/, it says: "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.”


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

On the "About The Fact Checker" page, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/ Kessler is the editor of The Fact Checker, responsible for all editorial decisions regarding content. The Fact Checker team has complete independence to decide what to fact check and what ratings to make. Within The Washington Post, The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post. The "About The Fact Checker" page highlights that Kessler is the editor -- both in his biography and in the discussion of the staff -- and also include the names of the national editor and politics editor of The Post who oversee The Fact Checker operation. 

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker clearly identifies the editor and lists the names of the national editor and the politics editor that The Fact Checker editor is under. I am not sure the About the Fact Checker page notes "how" editorial control is exercised, as noted in this criteria element, but the guidelines for assessors does not define this term or give an example of how an applicant can show this so I do not have a change to request.


done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months 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 Shorter bios of other members of the team are also listed, along with links to more extensive biographies.

 

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker meets this criteria on their About the Fact Checker page.


done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months 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. 

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker reports that about half of their fact checks come from reader queries, suggesting it is not that difficult to figure out how to communicate with the editorial team. My own look around the website confirms this. There are multiple, easy to find, entry points to communicate with The Fact Checker reporters and editors.


done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

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

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months 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 We have also produced a video for that page which takes viewers inside our process and how we conduct fact checks. That appears at the top of the "About The Fact Checker" page but can also be viewed via this link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/about-the-fact-checker/2019/05/09/919c0fa2-4301-4ab2-9ce0-3176c500fb8a_video.html


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker describes the kinds of claims they like to check and have created a useful video to help readers understand the process better.


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

My review of a randomly selected set of 20 fact checker reveals that The Fact Checker selects claims based on their importance to voters, considering questions of reach as well. The fact checks I reviewed usually describe, or at least nod to, the reasons the claim is being checked.


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker does this well. For example, in an ongoing public battle over whether the NIH has funded "gain of function" research (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/18/fact-checking-senator-paul-dr-fauci-flap-over-wuhan-lab-funding/), The Fact Checker relied on primary and secondary sources to offer evidence for both sides of the claim. The Fact Checker also described why one side had more directly relevant evidence to the question (direct quotes from a leader in the funded organization) and described why that evidence (that NIH has not funded gain of function research) was more persuasive.


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker does this well. In the 20 fact checks I randomly selected to review, I concluded that the Fact Checker relies on primary sources, guides the reader through the evidence and the decision making process in a clear way, and applies a consistent standard of judgment.


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker regularly quotes the original claimant, or a spokesperson for that claimant. The additional information appears to be regularly included in fact checks and engaged with directly by the writer of the article. For example, a story fact checking a claim from Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow was checked on the basis of The Fact Checker noting it was "struck" by a claim Stabenow made about the effort the U.S. makes to make it more difficult, or not, for Japan to sell cars in the U.S. The fact check walked through the evidence that countered Stabenow's claim and then quoted a spokesperson of Stabenow's who gave a "what she was referring to" defense of the original claim. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/19/stabenows-claim-that-us-does-not-try-limit-japanese-vehicle-sales/


done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage 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. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

At the bottom of each fact check, there is a link to this form: https://hosted-washpost.submissionplatform.com/sub/hosted/5c911f64439aa20034c4f0b7 We also provide an email contact on the About The Fact Checker page. The criteria for fact checks is listed on the About The Fact Checker page:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/

                         

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The Fact Checker is compliant with this criteria, as already noted above.


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago)

The About the Fact Checker page links to The Washington Post's policies on corrections: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/guidelines/corrections.html?tid=a_inl


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

There is a clear corrections policy, quoted below:

"The Washington Post strives for a nimble, accurate and complete news report. We endeavor to be promptly responsive in correcting errors in material published on digital platforms and in print. When we run a correction, clarification or editor’s note, our goal is to tell readers, as clearly and quickly as possible, what was wrong and what is correct. Anyone should be able to understand how and why a mistake has been corrected.

Updating a digital report

Our individual pieces of journalism evolve as we sharpen and improve them. Our readers expect that from us in the digital age. It is unnecessary to put notes on stories stating that a story has been updated unless there is a particular reason to note the addition of new information or other change; the time stamp signals to readers that they are reading a developing story. It is necessary to use a correction, clarification or editor’s note to inform readers whenever we correct a significant mistake.

Corrections

If we are substantively correcting an article, photo caption, headline, graphic, video or other material, we should promptly publish a correction explaining the change.

Clarifications

When our journalism is factually correct but the language we used to explain those facts is not as clear or detailed as it should be, the language should be rewritten and a clarification added to the story. A clarification can also be used to note that we initially failed to seek a comment or response that has since been added to the story or that new reporting has shifted our account of an event.

Editor’s notes

A correction that calls into question the entire substance of an article, raises a significant ethical matter or addresses whether an article did not meet our standards, may require an editor’s note and be followed by an explanation of what is at issue. A senior editor must approve the addition of an editor’s note to a story.

Other corrections policies

When an error is found by a reader and posted to the comment stream, the audience engagement team should indicate in comments that it has been corrected.

If we have sent out incorrect information in an alert, we should send out an alert informing people that the news reported in the earlier alert was wrong and give readers the accurate information.

When we publish erroneous information on social networks, we should correct it on that platform.

We do not attribute blame to individual reporters or editors (e.g. “because of a reporting error” or “because of an editing error”). But we may note that an error was the result of a production problem or because incorrect information came to us from a trusted source (wire services, individuals quoted, etc.).

Take-down (unpublish) requests

Because of the ease with which our published content can be searched and retrieved online, even years after publication, we are increasingly being asked to take down (or “unpublish”) articles from our website.

As a matter of editorial policy, we do not grant take-down requests, which should be vetted at the highest level. If the subject claims that the story was inaccurate, we should be prepared to investigate and, if necessary, publish a correction. And there may be situations in which fairness demands an update or follow-up coverage — for example, if we reported that a person was charged with a crime but did not report that the charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence. In short, our response will be to consider whether further editorial action is warranted, but not to remove the article as though it had never been published. When we publish publicly available personal data, we only will review takedown requests if the person involved is under threat of physical harm because of the existence of the material."


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

As quoted above, the policy meets this criteria.


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

The Washington Post in May revised its correction policies to more clearly identify errors of online content. At The Fact Checker, we previously have addressed errors within the body of an article. The new policy requires major errors to be noted at the top of the article and minor errors at the bottom of the article; a Washington Post managing editor must approve the designation of a minor error. Here are two examples of fact checks that were corrected:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/05/kevin-mccarthy-says-he-rented-room-7000-square-foot-penthouse/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/06/stefanik-defends-election-falsehoods-told-jan-6/


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The examples provided by The Fact Checker are in compliance with this criteria, making sure not to amplify the error.


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago)

This is at the end of the "About The Fact Checker" page, where the IFCN badge is displayed: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

This criteria is met.


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
22-Sep-2021 (9 months ago)

The Washington Post publishes corrections every day and makes it easy for readers to submit a correction request: https://helpcenter.washingtonpost.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003675928-Submit-a-correction


Michael Wagner Assessor
22-Nov-2021 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

As quoted above, The Washington Post has a clear corrections policy.


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Michael Wagner.