VERA Files Fact Check

Organization: VERA Files
Applicant: Yvonne T Chua
Assessor: Jeremaiah M. Opiniano
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

Vera Files provided additional information about its funding on its About Us page (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check)


Conclusion and recommendations
on 08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano wrote:

The assessor concludes that VERA Files is a legitimate fact-checking organization. VERA Files is transparent in its reporting methods, reach-out to news audiences through corrections, and acknowledging human editorial error. Story angles range from obvious (e.g., public statements given) to analytical (news angles not necessarily coming from statements, but are underreported and need explanations).

I can also say that VERA Files is witty in using LinkedIn accounts to look at the bios of the people involved in the fact-checking team. For one, LinkedIn is a tamed social media platform. For another, VERA Files people are professionals —and LinkedIn is the platform for news audiences to view these professionals. Given also previous episodes of trolling that impact any Filipino journalists today, VERA Files’ remedy is a touch of reason and professionalism.

Some recommendations:

  1. The infographic on the methodology is spelled out clearly. But to reinforce it, it is hoped that each story has a footnote explaining the reporting methods done. Readers infer indirectly the reporting methods done given the links to the sources of the facts checked.
  2. If time permits, some stories using fact-checking can do some old-school news gathering tools 
  3. It is really cultural for any nonprofit organization in the Philippines to optionally release its financial report and the amounts of donations and grants acquired. The same goes with media nonprofits / media development organizations. The only catch is that readers will ask for the background of the fact-checking organization. 

Suggested options include: 

  • a) Diligent posting of the annual financial report of the news organization in the news website; 
  • b) Having a page that shows the earnings and expenses (be it in Excel file, presented as an infographic); or
  • c) Revealing the projects and the amounts each project is. 
Having suggested these options, it is up to VERA Files how best to be transparent financially. If it wants, VERA Files can also get nonprofit certification of good housekeeping from the Philippine Council on NGO Certification (PCNC)—and show it to the public.
on 08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano recommended Accept


Section 1: Organization

Criterion 1a
Proof of registration
Evidence required: Please provide evidence that the signatory is a legally-registered organization set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking or the distinct fact-checking project of a recognized media house or research institution.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Information about VERA Files and VERA Files Fact Check can be found in the following: About Us (http://verafiles.org/about) and What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check). A copy of VERA Files’ registration certificate will be submitted through email.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf 1a - Verafiles_1a.pd... (2 MB)
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

VF is a media nonprofit and has fact-checking as a service.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Criterion 1b
Archive
Evidence required: Insert a link to the archive of fact checks published in the previous three months. If you do not collect all fact checks in one place, please explain how the fact-checking is conducted by your organization.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 8 months ago

There is regularity in the fact-checking stories. 


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Section 2: Nonpartisanship and Fairness

Criterion 2a
Body of work sample
Evidence required: Please share links to ten fact checks that better represent the scope and consistency of your fact-checking. Provide a short explanation of how your organization strives to maintain coherent standards across fact checks.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

1 Can open-pit mines trigger earthquakes?

February 18, 2017

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-can-open-pit-mines-trigger-earthquakes

2 Zubiri a cheater? Trillanes a rebel and traitor?

February 4, 2017

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-zubiri-cheater-trillanes-rebel-and-tra

3 Are condoms just for birth control?

January 25, 2017

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-are-condoms-just-birth-control

4 Should credit go to Calida for winning the West Philippine Sea case?

January 21, 2017

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-should-credit-go-calida-winning-west-p

5 Is Aguirre correct in saying CHR should file cases against erring policemen?

December 17, 2016

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-aguirre-correct-saying-chr-should-file

6 Does the Constitution say Marcos can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?

November 9, 2016

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-does-constitution-say-marcos-can-be-bu

7 Did Filipinos become poorer under Aquino?

October 15, 2016

http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-did-filipinos-become-poorer-under-aqui

8 Is Iloilo the ‘most shabulized’ area in PH?

August 27, 2016

http://verafiles.org/articles/so-iloilo-most-shabulized-area-ph

9 Duterte, Alvarez shift from Con-Con to Con-Ass

August 20, 2016

http://verafiles.org/articles/so-duterte-alvarez-shift-con-con-con-ass

10 Is that so? Poes figures don’t tally with official ones

April 6, 2016

http://verafiles.org/articles/so-poes-figures-dont-tally-official-ones

In July 2016, VERA Files conducted a two-day editorial planning workshop during which the team finalized the fact-checking mechanics and adopted standards based on best practices it had scanned. Besides deciding who to fact-check (no one should be spared) and how to go about it, VERA Files produced templates to present its findings for multiple platforms (text, infographic, video, social media) to ensure consistency. The proceedings of the workshop are contained in a 26-page documentation that VERA Files uses as reference.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

There are many examples of this, owing to VF’s (minimum) three-source rule.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Criterion 2b
Nonpartisanship policy
Evidence required: Please share evidence of your policy preventing staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations. Please also indicate the policy your organization has as a whole regarding advocacy and supporting political candidates.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

This is stated in “What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check” (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check) under "How sure are we that you’re not backed by a politician or political party?":

VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit media organization that values its journalistic autonomy. We don’t take money from politicians, political parties or partisan groups. The trustees and staff members have to stay strictly nonpartisan and aren’t allowed political affiliations. They don’t take on memberships, projects and activities that will compromise their independence and result in conflict of interest situations, whether real or perceived.

VERA Files also adheres to the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics (https://www.philpressinstitute.net/journalists-code-of-ethics/), which has a lengthy provision on nonpartisanship of journalists during elections.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Apart from statements in the website showing this nonpartisanship, Vera Files’ stories (including those fact-checked) display the nonpartisanship.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Section 3: Transparency of Sources

Criterion 3a
Sources Policy
Please share a brief and public explanation (500 words max) of how sources are provided in enough detail that readers could replicate the fact check. If you have a public policy on how you find and use sources for your fact-checking, it should be shared here.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Vera Files provides links to statements, press releases, transcripts, and videos of speeches and news conferences, where the time code is specified. This way it’s easier for our audience to find that exact statement highlighted in the story.

Multiple sources are encouraged, especially for statements or events with no audio or video recording. Vera Files has a three-source policy, meaning it should be clearly stated that at least three media networks used the same quote, or reported the event or incident.

At the end of each story, if applicable, other sources are listed, such as links to studies, documents, and other online resources. Sources used in infographics and videos are also prominently featured.

This policy is declared in “What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check” in answer to the question "What are some of our do’s and don’ts when fact-checking?"

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

The links are evident at the bottom portion of an article that was fact-checked.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Section 4: Transparency of Funding & Organization

Criterion 4a
Funding Sources
Evidence required: Please link to the section where you publicly list your sources of funding (including, if they exist, any rules around which types of funding you do or don't accept), or a statement on ownership if you are the branch of an established media organization or research institution.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

VERA Files Fact Check is a project of the independent media nonprofit Verafiles Inc. established in 2008 and based in Quezon City. The project has been supported by two main sources: Verafiles Inc. and the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

NED contributed $70,000 to the fact check project for the period July 2016 to June 2017. It continues to support the project through a $80,000 grant that will run till June 2018.

To date, the fact check project has not received contributions from individuals or other institutions but will disclose any individual donation exceeding $1,000 or P50,000.

Verafiles Inc. relies on the proceeds from the sale of its stories, donations and contributions, and grants to fund its operations. It received a total of P1 million from individual contributors in 2016. (Additional evidence attached: 2016 audited financial statement and summary of sources of contributions/donations)

About Us (http://verafiles.org/about) states that VERA File relies on various sources of funds that include grants, the proceeds from the sale of its stories, and donations and contributions from its trustees and supporters. It also states that it screens donors, contributors and grantors carefully and does not accept funding that will compromise its independence and nonpartisanship. It also discloses that VERA Files has received money for certain specialized reporting projects over the years. VERA Files discloses its funders, especially of specialized reporting project. The funders are identified on the landing page of the microsites or special sections. Here are a few examples: VERA Files Fact Check - http://verafiles.org/specials/fact-check The Road Safety Journalism Fellowship - http://verafiles.org/specials/road-safety PWD Files - http://verafiles.org/specials/pwd-files Trafficking Casewatch - http://verafiles.org/specials/trafficking-casewatch Older microsites that have been archived (Human Rights Case Watch, Human Rights Investigations, and Vote2013, for example) had prominently identified funders. (Note: Screenshots will be submitted by email as evidence.) VERA Files submits annual audited financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The audited financial statements can be accessed by the public at the SEC’s Public Reference Unit or through its I-View (http://www.sec.gov.ph/online-services/sec-i-view/). The public can also request delivery of these and other documents through the SEC Express System (http://www.sec.gov.ph/online-services/sec-express-system/). Aside from the financial statements, the SEC makes the other corporate filings available to the public such as the articles of incorporation/partnership (original and amended), by-laws (original and amended), General Information Sheet (GIS) and Registration Data Sheet.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf 4a - Verafiles_4a.pd... (802 KB) picture_as_pdf 4a 1 - Vera sources... (19 KB) picture_as_pdf 4a 2 - Verafiles_AFS... (2 MB)
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

The media nonprofit mentions where it gets its funds, as well as the projects it runs. But given the qualifier of this sub-item, it seems there is neither document nor a text detailing the finances of the organization.


done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Criterion 4b
Staff
Evidence required: Please link to the section detailing all authors and key actors behind your fact-checking project with their biographies. You can also list the name and bios of the members of the editorial board, pool of experts, advisory board, etc. if your organization has those.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

You’ll find the list in What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check) in answer to “Who does the fact-checking at VERA Files?”

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 8 months ago

The bios of each of the members of the fact-checking team are linked to the journalists’ individual LinkedIn accounts. 


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

For VERA Files Fact Check, it’s found under “Do you accept leads or contributions for its fact-checking initiative?” in What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check). All the fact-check infographics also provide this information. About Us (http://verafiles.org/about) also shows readers how to contact VERA Files.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

The bios of each of the members of the fact-checking team are linked to the journalists’ individual LinkedIn accounts.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Section 5: Transparency of Methodology

Criterion 5a
Detailed Methodology
Evidence required: Please link to a section or article detailing the steps you follow for your fact-checking work.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 8 months ago

A step-by-step process is provided in What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check) under the question, “How do you fact-check?” 

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 8 months ago

An infographic explains the methodology, which is called the “VERA Files Fact Checking Process” 


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Criterion 5b
Claim submissions
Evidence required: Please link to the page or process through which readers can submit claims to fact-check. If you do not allow this, please briefly explain why.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

This is found under Do you accept leads or contributions for its fact-checking initiative? in What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check)

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Details are spelled out in the page that explains what VF fact-checking is. VF also has an explicit corrections policy. Its Facebook page also is a venue for claims to the stories to be verified.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

Section 6: Open & Honest Corrections Policy

Criterion 6a
Corrections policy
Evidence required: Please link to the page with your policy to address corrections. If it is not public, please share your organization's handbook.

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

This is stated in “What if the fact-check team makes a mistake?” in VERA Files Fact Check (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check) as well as in About Us (http://verafiles.org/about).

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 8 months ago

Apart form the news website, the nonprofit’s Facebook page also is a channel to make and issue corrections —as well as to inform readers who are on social media to verify with them. 


done 6a marked as Partially compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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

VERA Files
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago) Updated: 8 months ago

Two minor correction requests have been addressed, both of which were coursed through Facebook. The first one was to replace the surname of a senator in the infographic. Another was to include a label of the y-axis of a line graph in another infographic. The readers were notified after the errors have been fixed.

Below are the links to the corrections that appeared in both the microsite and our FB page:

1 http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-are-condoms-just-birth-control

https://www.facebook.com/verafiles/photos/a.353314071436825.1073741825.216075145160719/978227965612096/?type=3&theater

2 http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-did-pangilinan-law-produce-generation

https://www.facebook.com/verafiles/photos/a.353314071436825.1073741825.216075145160719/974282132673346/?type=3&theater

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
08-Sep-2017 (1 year ago)

Missing


done 6b marked as Partially compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.