At fact-checking summit, ‘We hope courage is contagious’
The stakes are high for fact-checkers in India, Govindraj Ethiraj from FactChecker.in said at Poynter’s Global Fact-Checking Summit in London Monday. Ethiraj risks his safety and credibility in order to fact-check politicians: “We do one thing wrong and our office will be burned up,” he said.
Fact-checking is not always easy or safe, speakers said.
Macedonian fact-checker Bardhyl Jashari said, “We hope courage is contagious." That's why we fact-check, he said.
“Manufacturing of truth has become a multimillion dollar industry,” Tampa Bay Times Editor Neil Brown said in a keynote address. “This is where we come in to provide independent analysis.”
Fact-checkers are “fighting difficult circumstances and bringing creativity to try to build this candid world,” Brown said.
— Ivana C Bajrovic (@HowIvana) June 9, 2014
The conference’s primary goal is to create a community among fact-checkers, said PolitiFact founder Bill Adair, who organized the summit, held at the London School of Economics.
Participants came from 6 continents and 21 countries, including South Africa, Ukraine, Serbia, Italy, Argentina and Australia. Adair encouraged fact-checkers to use their common passion to improve their techniques, share successful practices and learn from colleagues.
Only four of fact-checking sites that had representatives at the summit existed prior to 2010, said Lucas Graves, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin who has researched fact-checking.
The Internet has provided a platform for fact-checkers “that is more powerful than any politician’s microphone or any military leader’s weapon,” noted Tim Franklin, president of the Poynter Institute. “It is changing our societies right before our eyes.”
This trend is important because the world needs more clarions of fact-based truth, Franklin said.
And in turn, fact-checking operations need help from readers. Laura Zommer, founder of Chequeado in Argentina, explained a crowdsourcing platform she created called Dato Chequeado. Readers actively contribute to a database of sources that helps expose inaccuracies in political statements.
Similarly, FactCheckEU invites readers to submit their own fact checks, which undergo an editorial process and are posted on the site.
Further topics at the summit, which continues tomorrow, will include sustainability, the use of social media and tracking campaign promises.