If you had $50,000, how would you change fact-checking?

If you had $50,000, how would you change fact-checking?

(Graphic by Isaac Avila Rodriguez)

Fact Forward 2019

The International Fact-Checking Network wants to support your next big idea.

We recognize the importance of making innovation a key part of fact-checking in the age of online misinformation and we are also aware that innovation requires investment. For those reasons, we are opening the second Fact Forward funding program. A call for fact-checking organizations and/or teams of journalists, designers, developers or data scientists to submit projects that can represent a paradigmatic innovation for fact-checkers in any of these areas:

  1. Formats
  2. Business models
  3. Technology-assisted fact-checking

With Fact Forward, the IFCN will grant 50,000 USD to the winning project, thanks to a grant from Omidyar Network. You can check out last year’s winner, CheckNews, right here.

For this fund, an innovative project is defined as one that provides a distinct, novel user experience that seamlessly integrates content, design and business strategy. The innovation should serve both the audience and the organization.

A panel of experts will choose the winner. The members of the panel are:

  1. Mark Stencel: co-director of the Duke Reporters’ Lab and its Tech & Check Cooperative.
  2. Mariano Blejman: Founder of Media Factory news accelerator. Founder of Media Party, the biggest mediathon in Latin America.
  3. Laura Hazard Owen: Deputy Editor of Nieman Journalism Lab at The Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.
  4. Mariana Santos: founder and CEO of Chicas Poderosas, a non-profit organization that aims to bring more women into technology;
  5. Janine Warner: Co-founder of Sembramedia. Knight Fellow for the International Center for Journalists.

One of those experts and/or a member of the IFCN staff will be available to offer advice during the 12-month development and implementation stage.

Who can apply?

Applicants must be employed by a fact-checking organization that is a signatory of the IFCN code of principles or must present a signed memorandum of understanding with one of the verified signatories agreeing on implementing the project together.


What kind of projects is IFCN looking for?

Existing fact-checking teams or organizations that seek funding to scale up or launch a new project, as well as experienced journalists with well-developed ideas or prototypes. The fund is open to fact-checking projects run by traditional media companies, as well as digital media entrepreneurs. If there is a resulting code of this project, it must be open and it should be public in a GitHub repository.


What kind of projects are NOT eligible for this grant?

To qualify for this fund, the project should be more than just an idea. Applicants must be organizations or teams of at least two people who have tested their concept or at least developed a prototype. Applications from individuals will be accepted if they are paired with a fact-checking organization where the project will be implemented in the 12-months time frame.


How do I apply?

The initial application is through a form that includes, among other information: full name, fact-checking initiative involved, a brief description of the organization responsible for the idea and a project description (250 to 500 words). The second phase will require a more detailed application and also a budget description. It will only be open to applicants that have passed the first round.


What are the deadlines?

March 15th: First Round Opens

IFCN Staff receives and analyzes each one of the applications, making sure they fill out all requirements. Applications without sufficient evidence on their eligibility will only be asked to re-apply once before the first round closes.

March 29th: First Round Closes

April 19th: Applicants are informed of selection for the Second Round

April 20th: Second Round Opening

Qualified applicants will receive a second form to be filled out with more detailed information about their projects. IFCN staff will analyze all answers and also check if ideas are technically viable in the fund time frame. All content is sent to advisory panelists.

May 4th: Second Round Closes

May 13th-15th: Q&A Sessions

The panel of experts analyzes all projects and might request interviews with applicants. The interviews will be held over Skype and expected to take 45 minutes each.

After that, the panel will grade all projects from 1 to 3 (being 1 the lowest and 3 the highest grade) and share with IFCN staff their conclusions. Projects that add best grades out of all five panelists will be eligible for the fund.

Last week of May: Winner is announced

Spring 2020: Project must be launched


What do panelists exactly do?

First, the panelists grade (from 1 to 3) each one of the applications that qualify for the second round according to six different points of view:  

  1. Is the project an original idea in the fact-checking field and change the way in which information is presented and/or consumed?
  2. Does the project involve more than one organization (fact-checking or otherwise) or attempt to implement a solution already proven by another one with its supervision?
  3. Does the project have the potential of fighting misinformation, improving the quality of the public debate and/or reaching a wider/new audience?
  4. Does the project have the potential to grow in the future?
  5. Does the project have the potential to be replicated by other fact-checkers with minor changes and serving its original purpose?
  6. Is the requested budget in accordance with the goals and scope of the project and have the potential to be fully completed and implemented in time and form?

Projects with the highest grades could be called for personal interviews (Q&A sessions) with panelists.

While the awarded project is being developed and implemented, panelists are also required to give a 45 minutes mentorship.


  • If a proposed project somehow relates to any of the panelists or to his/her actual or past work, the panelist will not participate in that specific evaluation.
  • Panelists don’t get paid for judging projects or for mentoring them.


Can teams submit more than one project?

Each applicant can submit only one project.


Terms and conditions

  1. The awarded team will have no longer than 12 months to develop and launch its project.
  2. A representative of the team must present their progress/preview during Global Fact 7 in Oslo, Norway.
  3. The team is expected to schedule 3 quarterly assessment sessions with an advisor from the panel and/or a member of the IFCN staff.
  4. If there is any code associated with the project, it must be openly shared and uploaded to GitHub
  5. The team must present two short narrative reports and two financial reports: the first one at midterm and the second one after implementing the project. These documents will be public.
  6. There should be one winner in this call, however, the IFCN reserves the right to split the fund in half if the advisory panel considers that two projects deserve to receive funding.
  7. The awarded amount will be delivered in two different payments: 50% at the beginning of the project and the remaining 50% after the midterm narrative and financial reports are approved. (If your project requires a different distribution, please inform).
  8. Last year’s winner cannot apply in 2019.


Application form

Google Form For First Round – 2019 edition