Organization: TWS Fact Check
Applicant: Jonathan V. Last
Assessor: Mark Coddington
Edits made by the organization after this assessment
IFCN Staff wrote:
The Weekly Standard Fact Check’s About Us section links to the full archive of fact checks (the tag section also will be updated alongside an upcoming CMS update)
The explanation of the policy on nonpartisanship required by the TWS Fact Checker was published on the About section, in line with the assessor’s recommendation
In light of edits made by TWS between iterations of the Fact Check product to meet the other criteria (see assessor recommendations), the period of 3 months was considered from launch.
Conclusion and recommendations
Mark Coddington wrote:
I recommend approval for The Weekly Standard Fact Check with several edits and revisions. The Weekly Standard has made several dramatic revisions and improvements in its apparent overhaul of the Fact Check in November; the initial May-June iteration of the Fact Check did not comply with IFCN standards, but the November revisions improve many of those deficiencies. The Fact Check now appears to be a distinct unit within the organization, and it is clearly identifying, linking to and assessing specific claims, where it had not generally done so before.
Still, I recommend several changes before the Fact Check is approved. Most broadly, the current version of the Fact Check has existed for only three weeks, and the IFCN calls for three months of consistent fact-checking before it is recognized as a distinct unit. The Fact Check needs to build up a larger sample of work in order to stabilize and be fully assessed in its current form.
Second, the Fact Check and its Explainer page need to be made more accessible. It should be easily found as a part of The Weekly Standard’s website navigation, and its archive page and Explainer page should link to each other. The bio of its writer should be added to his own archive page as well as the staff listing on the site’s About page. And all of the Fact Check’s articles should be listed on its archive page. This is important to public transparency and accessibility, and also to its establishment as a full, distinct unit of The Weekly Standard.
As part of that transparency, I also recommend a more detailed Explainer page with information about what claims it will and won’t check, its political independence policy, and about how to submit claims and suggest corrections. Additionally, I would emphasize continued improvement in the Fact Check’s clear linking of statements to specific points of evidence in its fact-checks.