Fact-checking organizations from nearly 30 countries have signed onto a statement of principles, a significant step in ensuring readers and viewers that they adhere to a non-partisan, fair-minded and transparent approach to evaluating the claims of politicians.
Political fact-checking has existed in the United States for many years, with the establishment of factcheck.org in 2003 and PolitiFact and The Washington Post Fact Checker in 2007. But since 2012, fact-checking organizations have emerged in dozens of countries, representing a new form of accountability journalism. The trend has also inspired partisan copycats and faux fact-checking websites, making it sometimes difficult for news consumers to tell the difference.
The statement of principles grew out of discussions at an international gathering of fact checkers in Buenos Aires in June and was drafted by a committee of fact checkers under the auspices of the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute. As of Sept. 15, 35 fact-checking countries from 27 countries have agreed to the principles, including the three main U.S. fact-checking organizations. Snopes, which since 1995 has debunked Internet legends and increasingly publishes political fact checks, also signed onto the principles.
There can be wide differences among fact-checking organizations, reflecting not just cultural or national distinctions. Some fact checkers are attached to newspapers, others to universities or nongovernmental organizations. Funding is a persistent problem for many. But the hope is that a commitment to core principles will help ensure quality, consistency and transparency, in addition to accountability designed to foster quality reports. Fact checking organizations that have agreed to the principles will be required to publish an annual report explaining how they have adhered to each of the five principles.
Below is the statement of principles, along with a list of the initial signatories.
International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter is committed to promoting excellence in fact-checking. Nonpartisan and transparent fact-checking can be a powerful instrument of accountability journalism. Conversely, unsourced or biased fact-checking can increase distrust in the media and experts while polluting public understanding. The following document is the result of consultations among fact-checkers from around the world; it offers conscientious practitioners principles to aspire to in their everyday work.
(1) A COMMITMENT TO NONPARTISANSHIP AND FAIRNESS
We fact-check claims using the same standard for every fact check. We do not concentrate our fact-checking on any one side. We follow the same process for every fact check and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not advocate or take policy positions on the issues we fact-check.
(2) A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF SOURCES
We want our readers to be able to verify our findings themselves. We provide all sources in enough detail that readers can replicate our work, except in cases where a source’s personal security could be compromised. In such cases, we provide as much detail as possible.
(3) A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF FUNDING & ORGANIZATION
We are transparent about our funding sources. If we accept funding from other organizations, we ensure that funders have no influence over the conclusions we reach in our reports. We detail the professional background of all key figures in our organization and explain our organizational structure and legal status. We clearly indicate a way for readers to communicate with us.
(4) A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF METHODOLOGY
We explain the methodology we use to select, research, write, edit, publish and correct our fact checks. We encourage readers to send us claims to fact-check and are transparent on why and how we fact-check.
(5) A COMMITMENT TO OPEN AND HONEST CORRECTIONS
We publish our corrections policy and follow it scrupulously. We correct clearly and transparently in line with our corrections policy, seeking so far as possible to ensure that readers see the corrected version.
By signing up to this code of principles, the fact-checking initiatives agree to produce a public report indicating how they have lived up to each of the five principles within a year from their signature, and once a year thereafter. The report will allow readers and others to judge to what extent the fact-checker is respecting the code of principles and will be linked to from this page.
Being a signatory to this code of principles and publishing a report in no way implies an endorsement from Poynter’s IFCN or any of its members.
The signatories of the code as of Sept. 15, 2016 are:
Africa Check (South Africa)
Agência Lupa (Brazil)
Aos Fatos (Brazil)
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo
Demagog Czech Republic
Doğruluk Payı (Turkey)
El Deber Data Bolivia
El Mercurio El Poligrafo (Chile)
El Objetivo La Sexta (Spain)
Factcheck.org (United States)
FactCheck Northern Ireland
Full Fact (United Kingdom)
Internews Kosova (Kosovo)
Metamorphosis Foundation (Macedonia)
Ojo Publico (Peru)
Pagella Politica (Italy)
Pesa Check (Kenya)
PolitiFact (United States)
Snopes (United States)
South Asia Check (Nepal)
UY Check (Uruguay)
The Washington Post Fact Checker (United States)
Zašto ne Istinomjer (Bosnia)
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