May 4, 2016

You can’t fact-check everything.

The sheer volume of inaccurate claims in the public domain has led some fact-checking and debunking organizations around the world to concentrate on specific topics, such as health or climate change.

PesaCheck, a newly launched initiative in Kenya, will be fact-checking the budget (“pesa” is Swahili for money). A project of the International Budget Partnership — Kenya and Code for Kenya, two transparency-focused NGOs, it hopes to publish its work primarily on other media outlets, though it does have a presence on Medium.

Catherine Gicheru, a Knight International Journalism Fellow at Code for Kenya, explained PesaCheck’s narrow focus: “While there is ample room for fact-checking other general issues, it is rare for journalists to fact-check budgets.”

Besides reaching audiences directly, PesaCheck hopes to build capacity among media outlets in Kenya (a goal shared by many fact-checkers around the world, including Johannesburg-based Africa Check).

“We hope that by showing what is possible, the media houses will adopt a more skeptical attitude and introduce evidence-based reporting (instead of the current he-said-she-said) in their narratives,” says Gicheru.

Fact checks about the budget don’t necessarily sound like they are going to be click-magnets, but “follow the money” is a central tenet of journalism for good reason.

“Money is always sexy, especially in a country like Kenya with a lot of corruption,” said George Nyabuga, senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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Alexios Mantzarlis joined Poynter to lead the International Fact-Checking Network in September of 2015. In this capacity he writes about and advocates for fact-checking. He…
Alexios Mantzarlis

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