The Whistle

Organization: The Whistle
Applicant: Uria Bar-Meir‬‏
Assessor: Ben Luria

Background

The Whistle is an Israeli fact checking platform, working as an independent unit within the Globes newspaper. Prior to its implementation into the Globes in January 2019, it worked as an independent NGO in 2017-2018.

Assessment Conclusion

The Whistle stands in compliance with the IFCN Code of Principles, and conducts reliable, impartial fact checks. The recommendation, accordingly, is to reapprove its affiliation with the IFCN for the next year.

The applicant's work seems to be non-partisan and impartial, focusing on checking statements made by public figures in Israel. The fact checks reviewed all follow the principles and methodology set by the unit and in compliance with IFCN's principles, and can be verified independently with the sources provided in the articles. This stands true both for articles from their previous website, and their new one embedded into Globes.


However, two potential suggestions from the previous review seem to still stand true for the applicant in this review, a year later. They are not significant enough to dim The Whistle as non-compliant, but they still hold value. Those are:

- Clarifying the current policy regarding seeking responses from fact-checked speakers (criteria 5.5), and perhaps designating a section of the articles for the speakers' response. While the applicant follows the codes of ethics of the Globes and the Israeli Press Council, in some fact checks it was hard to comprehend if a response was sought from the public speakers under review. It should be emphasized, however, that the majority of fact checks did in fact seem to refer to seeking response from the covered speaker.

- Integrating into the website the social media campaigns calling for submitting claims to review (criteria 5.6). Presumably that could be done even now through the Contact Us button - but its unclear if its purpose is general or as a call for submissions.

on 31-Jul-2021 (4 months ago)

Ben Luria assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

"המשרוקית", יחידת בדיקת העובדות מבית עיתון גלובס, עברה בהצלחה בדיקה ע"פ הקריטריונים של קוד ה-IFCN, הרשת הבינלאומית לבדיקת עובדות.

בדיקה זו בחנה קריטריונים כמו שקיפות, מקצועיות, אי-הטייה בסיקור ובבדיקת העובדות ועוד, כחלק מהתקנון של ה-IFCN. המאמרים השונים שנסקרו, ואתר המערכת, הציגו בהצלחה יישום של המתודולוגיה המצופה, הסתמכות על מקורות אמינים ופתוחים לעיון הציבור, ויישום של מדיניות התיקונים המוצהרת של היחידה במקרים של שגיאות.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The Whistle - Independent & Accurate Media for Israel - was first registered as a non-profit (see attached photo) in July 2016. During its first year of operation, prior to its public launch, the team focused entirely on establishing a methodology, developing a web-platform and articulating an ethical code. For nearly 18 months, between its public launch in July 2017 and December 2018, The Whistle published more than 300 different fact-checking articles, determining the accuracy of statements issued by elected representatives and public officials.

As of January 2019, when it was integrated into Globes daily financial newspaper, The Whistle became an integral, yet independent, fact-checking outfit within Globes, with print as well as digital presence. From a legal standpoint there is no longer a non-profit entity as it was taken apart (see the "Transparency" section on the left bar) right after the integration into Globes. In the past, during its non-profit period, the donor-breakdown was indicated online under 'Transparency' (and it is still available on the Ministry of Justice's website). Today, as it is already an integral part of Globes, The Whistle is broadly described in its Annual Trust Reports (see here, pages 22-23 and here pages 20-21). 

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf אישור פירוק בדיעבד.p... (125 KB)
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The response explains in itself the legal status of The Whistle - a distinct unit within The Globes - and its compliance with the criteria, which overall seems fit. While it does not explicitly refer to the page in the website describing that subject (the Annual Trust Report is not an inherent part of the website per se), their website (now under Globes) features the mentioned information under the Transparency tab: https://www.globes.co.il/news/home.aspx?fid=10559

The about us page provides info on the purpose of the organization, its methodology and its status starting as an independent initiative and evolving into its current affiliation with Globes (while remaining independent in practice).


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

1. The Whistle was first registered as a non-profit in July 2016 with three main objectives:

- Protect the media's independence and public status in the Israeli democracy;

- Promote fair, non-partisan and balanced coverage of current affairs;

- Promote civic empowerment and public engagement as part of the media landscape.

However, several months into development it became clearer that while journalists and mainstream media often "contributed" to false public debates, they were not necessarily the source. As we decided to go after the source, fact-checking became a top priority and we decided to directly target statements and claims that originated with political and public figures. We have been fact-checking political speech in Israel for nearly 5 years.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. When in full capacity the Whistle's has 6 regular staffers - 3 researchers, 1 editor, and 1 executive director (all 5 work full time), and 1 media monitoring coordinator (who works part-time). Until late July 2021 the staff is one researcher short. In addition, there are 6-8 students interning as part of their academic training.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Fact-Checking political speech generated by politicians is the main activity The Whistle carries out, and it also engages in fact-checking online misinformation. Until mid-June, The Whistle’s fact-checks have been published daily on The Whistle's website and, in shorten version, in its daily section at Globes (print and digital). Since 16 June 2021, both full-length fact-checks and summaries are published on The Whistle's section on Globes website. As part of our online presence, we also publish our content on social media in different formats such as posts, memes, clips, and live broadcasts. The Whistle's team members are also hosted occasionally on different podcasts produced by Globes newspaper.

Since March 2019 The Whistle has participated in the 3PFC Program led by Facebook worldwide. In December 2020, After more than a year and a half in the program, The Whistle has ended its partnership with Facebook. The main reason was the concern that participating in the program as part of a competitive newspaper in Israel's small media market may put the newspaper in a conflict of interest and constitute unfair competition, being the only organization in Israel in the program at that time. On 1 December 2020 The Whistle published a full and transparent announcement about its departure from the 3PFC program on the Globes website, explaining thoroughly and honestly the reasons for the decision. This announcement also appears in its full in the "About" section on The Whistle's website.

This past year has presented The Whistle's team with multiple challenges - handling the unprecedented flow of disinformation around the Covid-19 pandemic, overcoming the drastic change in work conditions which was done remotely all year, and dealing with the personal effects of the prolonged isolation, all while covering the 4th elections in 2 years. The team had shown great resilience and managed to continue The Whistle's work constantly and undisturbed, serving the Israeli public with reliable facts and information in a time of crisis.

In addition to the routine fact-checking, The Whistle also engages in educational activities, focusing on civic studies and media literacy. In the past year team members were invited to speak in different high school and university classes as well as talks and lectures to the general public, teaching basic fact-checking skills and helping develop fundamental methods for critical evaluation of news and online information. As experts in the field, few members of the team are often requested to lecture in various venues, mostly academic, about the general phenomenon of mis/dis-information and its implications to democracy and society. Examples of these activities are: Consultancy in the Idea Youth Research Program of the Tel-Aviv University; a lecture to students from the Israel 2050 Movement of the National Union of Israeli Students; and moderating a pre-election panel held by the Technion Alumni Association.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. The goals for the upcoming year include: Expanding into new formats such as interactive and live database, collaborative-public research, and reviving The Whistle's biweekly podcast after a year it's been off; Increasing the engagement with other departments in the newspaper in joint publications, as well as in training in fact-checking and online verification.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago)

The response covered well this section's requirements.


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The attached spreadsheet contains two sheets that represent the variety of publications regularly published by The Whistle between January and April 2021, all of which are of public interest.

Fact-checking articles of rated statements by elected representatives are published daily on The Whistle's section on Globes' website. The printed version is a summary of the fact-check, the full-length articles are available on the website at the bottom of the shorten version.

Please note: until the merger of The Whistle's website into Globes' website in mid-June 2021, the fact-checking articles in full-length have been published on The Whistle's website, and also published in summary on its daily section at Globes, along with an embedded full-length article (see the first sheet on the spreadsheet). The sheet also indicates the party of the speaker and the division between speakers for the coalition and the opposition.

Other publications The Whistle publishes regularly, including fact-checking articles that examined online misinformation, thematic overviews, explainers, fact sheets, and fact-checking articles that examined various claims but were not given a rate, are published at The Whistle's daily section at Globes at full-length along with links to all the relevant sources.

It is important to note that the reason for the duplication in the past of politician fact-checks both on the Whistle's website and in its designated section on the Globes platform - The Whistle's website was originally designed and tailored exclusively to facilitate only items that contain a rated statement by a single politician. Other formats that were developed since the integration into Globes newspaper in 2019 are not suited for this website, while the ability of Globes' platform to facilitate these full-length articles is also limited. Since the integration there is no more duplication.

The process of integrating the whole variety of formats and publications fully under Globes' platform has being severely delayed in the past year due to covid, and has taken place in June 2021 instead during 2020. This integration means that all the new information on The Whistle's website appears exclusively on its designated section in the Globes platform, including all the required information about The Whistle's work - methodology, transparency, staff etc. The original website of course is still online as archives for the old fact-checks and linked to The Whistle’s section, and all of its content will remain public.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The respondent's rate of publication surpasses the required minimum, as apparent from the attached spreadsheet and the attached response.

Files Attached
insert_drive_file The Whistle Publicat... (86 KB)
done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The fact checks by The Whistle focus on issues relating to the general public interest in a consistent and comprehensive manner, as apparent in recent fact checks from the previous three months.


done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Neither The Whistle nor Globes receive any funding from political or state sources.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Compliant as a privately owned organization.


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Neither The Whistle nor Globes receive any funding from political or state sources.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Compliant as a privately owned organization.


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Since the merge of The Whistle's website into Globes' website only a few full-length fact-checks have been published on Globes' website, and therefore most of the attached fact-checks are on the old The Whistle's website. It is also important to note that with the merge we created a new rate - "Context Needed" - that is for statements that are not factually wrong but it is problematic to judge them without wider context. So far the rate has been used only on short items on Globes, and at the moment has not been used in a full fact-check.


https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001375329

https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001375226

These two fact-checks, published a day apart, deal with statements made by two Knesset Members - one from the left who is a member of the coalition, and the other from the right who is a member of the opposition.

Both statements dealt with different aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the ability to go to war and make peace, and the expenditure of the settlements in the West Bank. Both politicians were examined professionally and Impartially based on public, reliable, and accessible sources, and they got similar rating - "Mostly False" and "False" respectively.

________________________________________________________________________

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/web-statement/pGVoR24MPj

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/web-statement/D4MOGKlM1v

These two images were published 2 days apart, and both were described as a depiction of the weekly demonstrations against PM Netanyahu that took place in front of his official residence. One was published by users and groups that support the demonstrations, the other by users and groups that oppose them. Both images went under close scrutiny and both fact-checks found the depiction to be "False".

________________________________________________________________________

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/feed/NR0dq6XWBV

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/feed/GkxzAz7yo5

These two statements deal with the availability of covid-19 tests in Israel and were both made by members of the same right-wing "Yemina" party. After a close and thorough examination, one was rated ‘True’, while the other one was found to be ‘Mostly False’.

________________________________________________________________________

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/feed/nJy3pJ5xPO

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/feed/1l0LoNnxva

These two fact-checks deal with statements made by two different members of the Joint Arab List in the Knesset. Media coverage of Arab politicians in Hebrew measures up to less than 3% of political media appearances (significantly lower than their 20% share of the Israeli population), Which results in fewer fact-checks than of Jewish politicians. However, once their statements meet the criteria for initiating a fact-check, they are treated with the same high standards and scrutiny as any other politician. In these cases one of the statements received was rated "True" and one "Mostly False".

________________________________________________________________________

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/feed/QrxOjNBy9B

https://thewhistle.globes.co.il/feed/RVxBGEg0Zk

These two fact-checks examined two different statements delivered three weeks apart by the same politician - the head of the left-wing Labor Party. One deals with gender equality within the Labor Party and was found to be ‘Mostly True’, while the other deals with the outcomes of PM Netanyahu’s financial policy and was found ‘Mostly False’.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The fact checks provided by the respondents seem to follow high standards of evidence, follow the same essential process and their conclusions are dictated by the evidence. The choice of these fact checks shows nonpartisanship and an application of the same standards on all sides of the political spectrum.


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The Whistle has a comprehensive fact-checking method that reduces biases to the minimum. Our team examines public statements delivered by key figures in the public and political spheres; elected officials, leaders, and senior civil servants; from all parts of the Israeli political spectrum. Influential social media groups, pages, and profiles that publish political as well as other publicly important content such as scientific or medical, are also monitored regularly, using the CrowdTangle platform and other methods.

The limited scope of the Israeli media and public discourse on social media allows us to scan most of it on a daily basis, especially when it comes to senior figures and popular pages and groups. Through a comprehensive, rapid, and balanced examination of public statements and content, The Whistle seeks to lead a more credible, accurate, and factual public discourse in Israel, regardless of speakers' political affiliation and/or previous statements made by political rivals and/ or allies.

As shown in the attached link above, The Whistle's methodology clearly indicates that only statements based on facts, rather than opinions, are found eligible for research. Moreover, prioritization of the different statements is always done as a team, following a group-discussions (and sometimes debates) focused on the daily findings of The Whistle's media monitoring effort. The statement's relevance to a given controversy, coupled with its reach and potential contribution to the public debate is key to the entire fact-checking process.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Both the link and the written comment of the respondents provide thorough explanations on the selection and balance in the choice of statements to check. 


One point to note is that the website defines the importance of a claim in a general sense: "that has an impact on the public discourse in Israel". The detail provided in the comment here is greater, and shows the prioritization and discussion process. While the current section in the website could be considered sufficient in my eyes, I would still advise the respondent to detail the procedure in further depth and transparency, like the written response provided here.


done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

In the articles provided, the fact checks rely on proper evidence, and the sources for those tend to be through official or unaffiliated channels; in cases where the fact-checked speaker or its staff are the ones providing sources for evidence, that is mentioned, although the evidence itself still arrives from formal sources. (i.e. in one case MP Ayelet Shaked's spokesperson mentions that information came from the German Embassy about the Fraport, but then that information was verified separately). In another case, the GINI index was used to evaluate a fact-check regarding a statement by MP Merav Michaeli about inequality in Israel, but public criticism towards the GINI index was mentioned as well for context.


done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The provided fact checks exemplify The Whistle's non-affiliation, with principled and accurate coverage of statements from both sides of the political spectrum.


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

As seen in the attached link, not only is there full transparency on the background of all staffers, but it clearly indicates that aside from our methodology non-partisanship is also maintained by forbidding direct and active engagement in advocacy or partisan activity by our team members as well as The Whistle altogether.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Compliant, as detailed in the respondent's answer and the links provided.


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The Whistle used primary sources of evidence mostly. When advised with secondary sources, it seemed to have followed up with the original source for the evidence discussed,


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The respondent checked the claims with multiple sources of evidence where relevant.


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

As covered in Section 2.3, The Whistle's fact checks rely usually on proper evidence, and the sources for those tend to be through official or unaffiliated channels; in cases where the fact-checked speaker or its staff (or any party of interest) are the ones providing sources for evidence, that is mentioned, although the evidence itself still arrives from primary sources.


done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The Whistle was first registered as a non-profit in July 2016 and it had operated as an independent fact-checking organization until January 2019, when it was integrated into Globes financial daily newspaper. While the integration introduced The Whistle as Globes' fact-checking unit, it was based on the mutual understanding that the team would maintain and focus on its original fact-checking mission and all it entailed.

Prior to the integration, it was agreed that while its articles would be published as part of Globes' news section on various platforms (print and digital), it was also made clear that The Whistle would maintain its independence in regard to its methodology, hiring as well as other capacities and therefore would be managed separately. The organizational model that assisted in managing The Whistle since its integration into Globes, which has also proved to be effective and accurate, was one of the fact-checking units within the Washington Post.

Moreover, given that The Whistle has naturally become identified with Globes over the past year, and while there is no longer a separate legal entity, The Whistle is broadly described in Globes' Annual Trust Reports (see here, pages 22-23 and here pages 20-21). The 2019 report (the year of the integration) clearly states that "The Whistle cannot and will not be subjected to Globes' editorial directives, and must maintain its unique mission, its freedom of action and its rigorous methodology which adheres to the standards it was accustomed to prior to the integration".

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

As detailed in the response, The Whistle is considered "the fact-checking section or unit of a media house".


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

See "Transparency" section on the left bar on The Whistle's section on Globes' website. See also the About page.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Compliant, as detailed in the response - features clearly on the website.


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The About page, linked here, features clearly the organizational structure and the editorial control context.


done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The link provided features the biographies of The Whistle's staff, as required.


done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

See "Contact Us" section on the left bar on The Whistle's section on Globes' website.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

As required, The Whistle's website features a Contact Us section, linking to the email address of the unit.


done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The About Us page provides clear explanations about the methodology used for fact checks in The Whistle.


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Based on the randomised sample specified in Section 3.1 (same goes for the next criteria as well), the methodology used in the fact checks seems to comply with this criteria: the statements covered are made by public figures with high impact, reach and importance, and The Whistle also provides context for choosing each statement.


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant provides in the sampled fact checks relevant evidence to support and to undermine the covered statements, as required.


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Based on the sampled fact checks, the applicant is using high standards to assess the merits of evidence used, regardless of who made the claim.


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Similar to the previous year of assessment, it seems that the respondent's policy on seeking contact for response/clarification is compliant but could be improved. Most of the sampled fact checks included a mention of the speaker's response, or that The Whistle was seeking response/inputs from them, but not all of them.

To quote the assessment of criteria 5.5 from 2020, which applies similarly now: "The vast majority of the articles in the sample included an indication for contact with the speaker who made the fact-checked claims. This fits the fact that The Whistle by definition is following the code of ethics of the Israeli Press Council and the Globes, both of which include a need to seek response when publishing things that could hurt the entities covered. This leads me to conclude it as compliant.

However, as a side note - it should be mentioned that I could not find a specific reference to a duty of contact with the speaker in the applicant's methodology section, and a minority of articles were not clear about whether or not there was an effort to make contact. Even though this is considered as compliant, I suggest a more clear indication for this policy both in the articles (a section of the speaker's response, perhaps) and the methodology (is there an always-contact policy, and if not then what's the criteria to decide)."


done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

During the past year, which included two election cycles (following the two in the previous year) as well as the continuous COVID-19 infodemic, The Whistle initiated several campaigns encouraging readers and followers to send suspected claims, statements, and information. These potential leads from the public became fact-checking articles in case they were found eligible by The Whistle's standards.

A call for readers to send suspicious claims appears permanently on The Whistle's Twitter account (see here).

During the outburst of the COVID crisis, The Whistle published on its social media accounts memes that were meant to debunk as quickly as possible rumors that were spreading rapidly on the net. All of these memes contained a call for readers and followers to send suspicious information (just a few examples out of dozens can be found here, here, here, and here).

The Whistle also launched a campaign on election day, encouraging readers and followers to send rumors and information suspected to be false (see here and here). This call also appeared on the front page of Globes printed edition on election day (see here).

Moreover, every once in a while the team also seeks assistance from readers and followers in the process of fact-checking, engaging them in crowd-sourcing public research (see here).

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2021-05-... (855 KB) Screen Shot 2021-05-... (650 KB) Screen Shot 2021-05-... (481 KB) Screen Shot 2021-05-... (489 KB)
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The respondent's response seems compliant in its efforts to receive fact-check proposals via social media campaigns. Similar to the previous assessment, this seems to be a proactive effort, although it should be mentioned that contrary to the social media campaigns, the website itself only features the Contact Us link with no further detail.


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

The Whistle's online methodology section addresses the case "An Error Occurred". It clearly indicates that "if a mistake is found in the facts, we will correct it as soon as possible with a clear distinctive location in the full-length versions as well as The Whistle's daily section at Globes (both print and digital versions). If the mistake discovered affects the rating that was given, it will also be corrected accordingly".

In more detail, the text clearly states that as "different people may come to different conclusions about any given statement, in case our readers disagree with the details in our articles or with the given rating, they are welcome to contact us and submit their comments. If the comments are accepted and deemed relevant by The Whistle's team, the given rating will be changed accordingly and the revision will be clearly posted online". Following this text is The Whistle's public addresses' email account and an invitation to contact the team through its social media accounts. 

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The respondent's methodology section covers this aspect well, as detailed in this response. In addition, similarly to the section about seeking a response, The Whistle is subject to the Code of Ethics both of Globes and the Israeli Press Council, which have requires the publisher to post corrections to publications proved to be wrong.


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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

The Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago


Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The complaints and corrections policy detailed above by the respondent is sufficiently covering the requirements of this section.


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

During this past year, The Whistle was criticized by readers and speakers on several occasions and on different grounds. In every case, the claims were thoroughly examined and debated by the team. Nevertheless, while each request received a comprehensive response in a timely manner, it is also important to note that none of the requests in the past year resulted in changing a given rating.

In the case of this fact-check of a statement made by a member of the Knesset, The Whistle received an email from a reader who claimed that the findings of the fact-check were wrong, and provided an extensive explanation to support his claim. The Whistle's editor replied the same day, explaining that some of his claims were wrong and some irrelevant, as the core of the fact-check dealt with a different issue, and his claims did not refute The Whistle's findings. The reader replied within a couple of days, providing general reading materials.

Another example from the past year is this fact-check, written as part of the Facebook 3PFC Program, which dealt with a viral post that shared an image of a police officer choke holding a man, allegedly as part of the enforcement of COVID restrictions, though in fact, this was a two years old photo of an arrest of a Palestinian man in east Jerusalem. The Whistle received an email from a reader which claimed the "False" rating given to the post by The Whistle was unjustified, as cases of brutal police enforcement of COVID restrictions were reported around the same time, and the post merely portrayed a common sentiment. The Whistle's reply, which was given on the same day, started with a thorough explanation of the 3PFC program, followed by the reasoning for keeping the False rating of this post..

It is worth mentioning another unique case of correction from the past year, that was made in one of The Whistle's tweets. Following a statement by PM Netanyahu about his immunity bid, we shared an older article we published about Knesset Members who sought immunity from trials in the past. Following comments from followers, we realized that one of the details in the article was no longer up to date. The Whistle published an apology tweet, explaining the mistake along with a screenshot of the original tweet, which was then deleted to prevent further misleading of readers.

Files Attached
twitter.png (507 KB) shasha reply.png (744 KB) Shasha - 1.png (1 MB) Shasha - 2.png (773 KB)
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant's response and the examples it features seem to be adherent with the policy covered in the previous sections.


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001372882


In addition to the "contact us" section, it is noted at the bottom of The Whistle's methodology section that readers that believe it fails to follow the IFCN Code of Principles are able to contact the IFCN directly and showcase their complaints.

Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

Compliant, as present in the link and description provided by the applicant.


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.

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 Whistle
21-Jun-2021 (5 months ago) Updated: 5 months ago

Globes daily newspaper adheres to the Israel Press Council's ethical code and to a detailed internal ethical code as well (see also here).

As seen under clause #27, it is clearly stated that "Any errors, omissions or misinformation that were included in the publication will be corrected as quickly as possible, with fairness and visibility in correlation with the original publication, and if possible any continued distribution will be stopped. If the good name or dignity of any person is damaged, we will also publish an apology in the appropriate cases".

In this article, published on 7 July 2020 on Globes daily edition, the headline stated a figure regarding the unemployment rate in Israel, which several readers claimed was wrong. In response to these comments, Globes editor in chief asked The Whistle to conduct an independent fact-check of the figure (she also stated this request publicly on her personal twitter account). The Whistle's check found that the figure was in fact wrong, and the headline was corrected along with a full disclosure, and a link to the Whistle’s fact-check.

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2021-05-... (1 MB) Screen Shot 2021-05-... (1 MB) Screen Shot 2021-05-... (124 KB) Picture1.png (351 KB) Picture2.png (54 KB)
Ben Luria Assessor
30-Jul-2021 (4 months ago) Updated: 4 months ago

The applicant's response covers well the topic of corrections policy. The evidence of adherence, however, seems a bit outdated given that it's an event from over a year before the review of this application.

The Globes Transparency Report for 2021, provided earlier in other sections of this application, features a more recent example of an honest correction by Globes. Page 31 features a case from March 2021, when Globes published a column apologising for failing to seek input from the Joint List party regarding the Israeli Forlough scheme, in an article covering the different parties policies before the 2021 elections.

https://res.cloudinary.com/globes/image/upload/v1624971945/direct/gld2021_with_cover_rloexm.pdf


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Ben Luria.