Transparency is important for fact-checkers and for all journalists. Let your audience know what you are doing, as well as how and why you’re doing it. Here are steps journalists can take to help improve transparency and trust with your audience.
- Upload documents, transcripts, data and any other materials used to write an article or fact check. If it’s available to reporters, producers and editors, it should be available to the audience.
- Hyperlink all sources. Or even better, use annotation software if it’s available. Here’s an example of an annotated document.
- When a correction is needed, make it promptly and visibly online, on the air and in print. And don’t forget to correct mistakes on social media as well. Here are some practical tips for correcting mistakes.
- Publish the organization’s code of ethics as part of a fact-checking package.
- Develop a standard methodology for choosing facts and producing fact checks; share this with your audience.
- Explain precisely why each fact was selected for fact-checking and why it’s significant.
- Make sure to disclose any conflicts of interests, no matter how small they may seem.
- Find a way to communicate with your audience, whether through forms, social media, comments or email. Let them know you want their ideas and feedback.
- Catalog the criticism. When a substantial number of comments are collected, look for patterns of complaints and brainstorm ways to address them.
Taken from Fact-checking: How to Improve Your Skills in Accountability Journalism, a self-directed course by Alexios Mantzarlis and Jane Elizabeth at Poynter NewsU.
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