Verafiles Incorporated

Organization: Verafiles Incorporated
Applicant: Ellen T. Tordesillas
Assessor: Jeremaiah M. Opiniano

Background

Vera Files is a Philippine nonprofit news outlet whose fact-checking efforts have conformed with the International Fact-Checking Network's ideals. Vera Files' fact-checking operations prevail amidst rising active partisanship by online users, mis/disinformation, and "dark participation" by audiences of the online news universe.

Assessment Conclusion

Vera Files has sustained its conformity with the fact-checking standards of the International Fact-Checking Network. 

on 17-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

[Filipino translation of 'assessment conclusion' above] Pinanatili ng Vera Files ang pagkaka-ayon nito sa mga pamantayan ng International Fact-Checking Network.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

Verafiles Inc. is an independent media nonprofit organization registered with the Philippines' Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). It has been undertaking the fact-checking initiative "VERA Files Fact Check" since 2016. Information about VERA Files can be found in "About Us" (https://verafiles.org/about). Information about VERA Files Fact Check can be found in "What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check" (https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check).

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

Vera Files has been fully compliant as a registered nonprofit news organization.


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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?

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

1) When: VERA Files' fact-checking operation started during the 2016 presidential elections as a class activity of VERA Files cofounder and then trustee Yvonne T. Chua at the University of the Philippines where she teaches journalism. Chua’s students fact-checked statements made by candidates for national positions, applying guidelines used by fact-checkers in other parts of the world. She and VERA Files writer Jake Soriano worked closely on the activity and posted the output in VERA Files under the “Is that so?” section. "Is that so?” became “VERA Files Fact Check” in July that year. Chua led VERA Files Fact Check until Jan. 31, 2019.

Why: Government officials, politicians and other public figures tend to play fast and loose with the facts, in the process misleading the public. These “alternative facts” spread easily owing to the big following and wide reach of these public figures. In addition, social media platforms have increasingly been exploited to spread misinformation and disinformation by both public and nonpublic figures. As journalists, we at VERA Files are committed to seeking and telling the truth. Fact-checking is one of the means. We believe in accountability journalism, which is essential to a functioning democracy.

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

2) VERA Files Fact Check team is composed of 9 researchers/reporters and 6 editors. Some of the reporters have posting duties in the different social media platforms. Three editors likewise have administrative duties, but only Ellen Tordesillas, as President, communicates directly with donors.

3) Aside from the production of Fact Checks/Fact Sheets/Explainers supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and a partnership agreement with Facebook, VERA Files undertook the Road Safety Journalism Program in cooperation with the World Health Organization-Philippines and Bloomberg Philanthropies and Earth Files with Internews' Earth Journalism Network.

4) VERA Files likewise conducts fact check training programs in partnership with educational institutions in the country, and has, as needed, collaborated with other fact checking groups around the world. It was among the first members of the collaborative project #CoronaVirusFactsAlliance, led by IFCN, to fight disinformation about COVID-19. Currently, it has partnerships with Meedan and Internews in support of its fact check training workshops for students in the country and Overseas Filipino workers.

5) Between September 2020 and September 2021, VERA Files hosted a misinformation-reporting fellowship in partnership with Facebook.

6) VERA Files is currently collaborating with STOP/The Union in an investigative reporting project on the tobacco industry's influence in policy-making and legislation on the regulation of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products,

7) VERA Files would like to keep honing its craft through continuing training and exposure to be able to be  keep up with advancement in information technology and to be more effective in fighting disinformation.

8) VERA Files would like to be able to empower  sectors of Philippine society most vulnerable to disinformation (the masses and the youth including the more than 10 million Overseas Filipino workers)  with fact-checking skills so they can participate meaningfully in nation building.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

Vera Files' fact-checking efforts have expanded over the years, to now include news audiences. Building the fact-checking capacities of newsrooms and now of audiences attests to the commitment of the news organization to fact checking.


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Please see attached list of VERA Files Fact Checks between April 1, 2021 and October 1, 2021.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf VFFC ARTICLES (APRIL... (176 KB)
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

Fact-checking operations by Vera Files have been staple fare in its weekly routines, as shown in the fact-checking stories produced.


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

While many of the stories are political, definitely three-fourths of the fact-checking articles concern issues of public interest. Claims challenged affect even the online welfare of news audiences, more so the welfare of the fact-checkers. 


done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

VERA Files has no commercial, financial, and/or institutional relationship with the state, or with politicians or political parties in the Philippines and any other country. VERA Files does not receive any funding or support from foreign as well as local state or political actors.

VERA Files’ nonpartisan policy 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 the item "How sure are we that you’re not backed by a politician or political party?"

VERA Files prohibits its trustees and staff from taking money from politicians, political parties, or partisan groups, and from having political affiliations. Neither are they allowed to take on memberships, projects, and activities that would compromise their independence and result in conflict-of-interest situations, real or perceived.

VERA Files adheres to the professional and ethical standards set by the Society of Professional Journalists (https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp) and the Philippine Journalists Code of Ethics (https://www.philpressinstitute.net/journalists-code-of-ethics/), which has a lengthy provision on nonpartisanship of journalists during elections.

The online media outlet Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) gives VERA Files a “least biased” rating (https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/vera-files/).

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Over the years, and even with the financial pressures of sustaining a nonprofit newsroom, Vera Files persists in being editorially and financially autonomous.  


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

Not applicable.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The funding sources enumerated by Vera Files do not include government or political sources.  


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

COVID-19

Trillanes’ claim on the status of COVID-19 vaccination programs in Israel, Southeast Asia is misleading, needs context (Feb. 4, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-trillanes-claim-status-covid-19-vaccin

Defensor claim that U.S. allows ‘off-label’ use of ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment is misleading (April 9, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-defensor-claim-us-allows-label-use-ive

Roque wrongly equates protection from face mask and shield to getting COVID-19 vaccine (June 7, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-roque-wrongly-equates-protection-face


Sports/Olympics

Panelo DID NOT say Hidilyn Diaz is ‘on a drug list’ (July 27, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-panelo-did-not-say-hidilyn-diaz-drug-l

Drilon wrong in claiming PNoy-era law exempted athletes’ winnings from tax payments (Aug. 10, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-drilon-wrong-claiming-pnoy-era-law-exe

West Philippine Sea / South China Sea

Photo of Australian ship WRONGLY shown as ‘Chinese vessel in WPS’ dumping waste (July 14, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-photo-australian-ship-wrongly-shown-ch

PH didn’t ‘handpick’ entire panel in South China Sea arbitration case (May 7, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-ph-didnt-handpick-entire-panel-south-c


Elections

Bongbong Marcos unloads five inaccurate claims on election systems in vlog (April 24, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-bongbong-marcos-unloads-five-inaccurat

Image ALTERED to show ‘Run Sara Run’ tarp on vehicle in Marawi City (March 12, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-image-altered-show-run-sara-run-tarp-v

This Navy ship did NOT carry a ‘Let Leni Lead’ banner (Sept. 7, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-navy-ship-did-not-carry-let-leni-lead


Celebrities

Celebs, netizens mistakenly share photos of 2019 Cagayan flood in ‘Ulysses’ posts (Nov. 26, 2020)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-celebs-netizens-mistakenly-share-photo

Actor Pen Medina’s claim that COVID-19 virus can get into ‘any mask’ needs context (Sep. 3, 2021)

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-actor-pen-medinas-claim-covid-19-virus


VERA Files in July 2016 set the standards for its fact checking in its two-day editorial planning meeting. The standards were updated in 2017 after the IFCN issued the Code of Principles; they undergo thorough review every year. The team continues to adhere to the same standards, which are reiterated and underscored during VERA Files' annual planning workshop.

VERA Files also has created templates to present its findings for multiple platforms to ensure consistency. “What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check”(http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you- want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check) includes the item “Do you follow any standards when fact-checking?”

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

The sample stories, even if by number are directed at officials currently sitting in power, show that both pro- and anti-government officials and supporters got fact-checked. If the standards Vera Files had set since 2016 remain the same, and the news production has remained consistent, Vera Files has already institutionalized the editorial approach of fact checking claims from multi-partisan segments of Philippine society. This approach by Vera Files especially comes as supporters and critics of President Rodrigo Duterte have been on the prowl online.


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

See, in particular, "Do you follow any standards when fact-checking?" and "How do you select claims to fact-check?"

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

This link is self-explanatory.


done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

Very much compliant, with Vera Files even expanding its stories by having what it calls "fact sheets".


done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As mentioned earlier, varied actors in the Philippine political spectrum (and even celebrities) have been topics in the fact-checking stories of Vera Files.  


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

See, in particular, "How sure are we that you're not backed by a politician or political party?"

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Vera Files has been consistent on this regard since the beginning: that political actors have not funded the fact-checking and overall editorial operations of Vera Files. Thus, there is non-partisanship in the editorial approach of Vera Files --even at the risk of presenting its fact-checking stories as less engaging to Filipino news audiences compared to other news organizations.   


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The stories are filled with primary sources that are hyperlinked. The stories also have a "references list" for readers to have a look at the fact-checking effort's attempts at comprehensiveness. 


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Very seldom that the stories of Vera Files contain secondary sources, implying that as much effort is exerted to source out primary material. Some stories' usage of secondary material means that the primary material may not be available and accessible online, what with the Philippines still experiencing mobility restrictions that may see Vera Files' reporters to scour libraries and printed materials.                                                                                                            


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The discipline of Vera Files to use at least two sources of information to check on one party's claims has been fairly established in the fact-checking stories. 


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Vera Files' fact-checking stories show the relevant interests of the sources it uses, and compares this with the primary source materials used to check the claims of a certain party.  


done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

Verafiles Inc. is an independent media nonprofit organization registered with the Philippines' Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). It has been undertaking the fact-checking initiative "VERA Files Fact Check" since 2016. Information about VERA Files can be found in "About Us" (http://verafiles.org/about). Information about VERA Files Fact Check can be found in "What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check" (http://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check).

Please see attached General Information Sheet.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf VFI 2021GIS for IFCN... (3 MB)
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Compliant. As a minor concern, the scanned General Information Sheet (2021) of Vera Files does not contain the page where the directors and officers of the nonprofit organization is shown. There is a page to this in the 2020 version of the GIS form of the Philippines' Securities and Exchange Commission. Such page was shown in Vera Files' 2020 GIS, an evidence uploaded in its 2020 IFCN renewal application.


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

See, in particular, "Who funds VERA Files Fact Check?"

https://verafiles.org/about

Please see attached Financial Statement.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf 2019-2020 FS Audited... (9 MB)
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Hyperlinks posted by the IFCN applicant reveal the nonprofit ownership of Vera Files, as well as the supporters to its fact-checking service (as seen from the 2019-2020 audited financial reports).

In this link, https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check, interestingly Vera Files showed an infographic indicating the funding support it has received from the National Endowment for Democracy over the years. Congratulations for this showcase of transparency!


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

See, in particular, "What does your organizational structure look like?"

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The link explicitly shows how Vera Files is organizationally and editorially structured. 


done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

See, in particular, “Who does the fact-checking at VERA Files?”

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The current roster of fact-checking journalists and editors consists of 15 people. The fact-checking operations have grown for Vera Files. And for users, in each of these 15 names, one can click on their hyperlinks to see their LinkedIn bios. 


done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

A Contact Us section is at the bottom of VERA Files' website:

https://verafiles.org/

VERA Files also provides links to its social media pages that readers can go to:

https://verafiles.org/about

VERA Files also encourage readers to send leads or claims it can fact-check, as well as to call its attention to a mistake in any one of its articles:

https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check

See, in particular, “Do you accept leads or contributions for your fact-checking initiative?” and “What if the fact-check team makes a mistake?”

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The hyperlinks show how news audiences can tough base with Vera Files. Its Facebook page is also a venue for readers --from all sides-- vent their comments. For some commenters who dislike the fact-checking stories and the balanced, fair presentation of details, these parties may either have cognitive biases already, or cognitively just look at the headlines and do not scour the contents of the information in the fact-checking stories.


done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

VERA Files provides in detail its fact-checking process 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?” An infographic explains the methodology, which is called the “VERA Files Fact Checking Process.”

The methodology is also explained in the online and print publication, “VERAfied: A DIY guide to fact checking and fighting fake news” (http://verafiles.org/articles/verafied-diy-guide-fact-checking-and-fighting-fake-news).

The methodology is also explained in the online and print publication, “VERAfied: A DIY guide to fact checking and fighting fake news” (http://verafiles.org/articles/verafied-diy-guide-fact-checking-and-fighting-fake-news). Early this year, VERA Files updated its “VERAfied: A DIY guide to fact checking and fighting misinformation and disinformation” (https://verafiles.org/articles/verafied-diy-guide-fact-checking-and-fighting-misinformation) to further expound on the methodology.

VERA Files also explains what it does as a third-party fact checker for Facebook in “VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program in PH explained” (http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-facebooks-third-party-fact-checking-pr).

Since April 2018, a link to “VERAfied: A DIY guide to fact checking and fighting fake news” (http://verafiles.org/articles/verafied-diy-guide-fact-checking-and-fighting-fake-news) is provided at the end of every article.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The hyperlinks prove the compliance of Vera Files to this sub-criterion. The infographic visualizes the steps being made.

And with over a year of training people and news audiences on fact-checking, covering multiple dialects, Vera Files has just made public its fact-checking methodology.


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Vera Files continues to adhere to a three-fold criteria explaining the fact-checking efforts to appraise a claim made by a party. Also seen in some of this year's submitted fact-checking stories that the claims trended on the Internet and social media (using CrowdTangle), with this detail mentioned as background in the fact-checking story.


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Vera Files stories analyzed have provide relevant evidence to check on a claim by a party concerned.


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Vera Files banks on online research and seeks documentary evidence (digital, printed) to present contexts to the claims and counterclaims made by contending parties.


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

For future fact-checking stories, Vera Files can attempt to pro-actively reach claimants, from whichever party they side on. Doing this approach is admittedly a risk to the journalists’ physical and online security, especially given the persistence of highly-partisan ‘claimants.’


done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The team religiously monitors VERA Files' social media pages, where readers regularly send in fact check requests. On VERA Files’ Facebook Messenger, netizens receive a prompt to fill up this Google Form:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeNAlQtQdsw_bF2AS6AI_QztnSGBMIE96oIAzV9QW-m8RgEww/viewform

Each request is carefully evaluated by an assigned member of the fact-check team.

If the claim is fact-checkable, it will be assigned to a member of the fact check team for research. Once the fact check is done, VERA Files sends the link of the published version to the reader who initially asked the claim to be checked.

For already-debunked claims, VERA Files sends the reader the link to the corresponding Fact Check article.

For content that turns out to be true based on a quick cursory Search, or is not eligible for fact-checking, VERA Files provides a quick explanation to the reader with a citation of its sources.

VERA Files also provides an email address where readers can send leads and Fact Check pitches. See "Does VERA Files accept fact-check requests?" (https://verafiles.org/articles/does-vera-files-accept-fact-check-requests) and "What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check," in particular, “Do you accept leads or contributions for your fact-checking initiative?” (https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check).

VERA Files has added a blurb at the end of all its Fact Check articles encouraging readers to send VERA Files Fact Check any dubious claims that they encounter online.

Blurb:

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Send us a message here or here.

Here: mailto: newsroom@verafiles.org

Here: Reader Request form

Reader Request Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeNAlQtQdsw_bF2AS6AI_QztnSGBMIE96oIAzV9QW-m8RgEww/viewform

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The answers of Vera Files to this criterion comply with Criterion 5.6. The approach on this regard for Vera Files remains stable since audience outreach to fact-checking stories is the same as in Vera Files' 2020 application. 



done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

The correction policy can be found in the item “What if the fact-check team makes a mistake?” in “What you want to know about VERA Files Fact Check” (https://verafiles.org/articles/what-you-want-know-about-vera-files-fact-check) as well as in “About Us” (https://verafiles.org/about).

Publishers who get a "false" or “mixture” rating from VERA Files and receive a notification from Facebook under the third-party fact-checking program can appeal to VERA Files. The information is provided in the item “How does one fact-check the fact checkers?” in “VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program in PH explained” (https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-facebooks-third-party-fact-checking-pr).

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Compliant. The hyperlink bares a final sub-section about Vera Files making a mistake. That sub-section spells out details on the actions Vera Files does to these mistakes.


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The corrections policy of Vera Files outlines the steps to rectify, revise mistakes noticed in fact-checking stories. This policy is adhered to carefully.


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

There have been instances where VERA Files caught its own mistake and made the necessary corrections. For example:

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-crimes-against-humanity-through-lens-p

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-what-expect-once-covid-19-vaccines-are


This September 2021, a reader reached out to VERA Files and pointed out an error in the computation regarding breakthrough COVID-19 infections:

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-why-fully-vaccinated-people-still-get 


An expert VERA Files interviewed for a health-related fact check also reached out for a minor correction (definition of bile) in July:

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-five-myths-about-drinking-cold-and-war


VERA Files also airs the responses to its Fact Check. For example:

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-pna-reports-wrong-founding-date-icc


VERA Files likewise states in its Fact Check article if a publisher has corrected the post in question because of the Fact Check (in line with the corrections policy under the third-party Fact Check partnership with Facebook). For the current reporting period, one such publisher issued an erratum, and then deleted the post. (https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-panelo-did-not-say-hidilyn-diaz-drug-l)


Link to Facebook corrections policy:

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/997484867366026?id=673052479947730&recommended_by=315131736305613

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The news organization complies here, with Vera Files even quick to see its own errors. Human errors are normal even in fact-checking, but Vera Files recognizes the importance of correcting editorial mistakes. The links shown here reveal how Vera Files responds to reader comments to details and facts (even mathematical computations) to some of the articles. 


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

A link to the IFCN Code is also mentioned in Vera Files' hyperlink, explaining the fact-checking process. 


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.

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.

Verafiles Incorporated
13-Sep-2021 (8 months ago) Updated: 8 months ago

VERA Files is not affiliated with any media company.

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Assessor
07-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Vera Files rightful owns the fact checking service. Vera Files is a small newsroom yet fact-checking is a major editorial operation (perhaps comprising over-50 percent of Vera Files' editorial output). 


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano.