Legal Defense Fund

 


Overview

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter is providing media defense funds for fact-checkers facing harassment and legal threats associated with the work of fighting mis- and disinformation. 

The funds are available to more than 100 verified signatories of IFCN’s Code of Principles. Each applicant will receive up to $40,000, some of which will be used to hire a media defense lawyer to help with fact-checking-related disputes.  

The fund is made possible by Meta’s renewed support and Google News Initiative’s yearlong partnership with IFCN.

To see the IFCN verified signatories list please, click here.


Selection Committee

The 11-member selection committee will have a representative from Reporters Without Borders (Clayton Weimers, deputy director, Washington DC RSF office), IFCN (Enock Nyariki, community and impact manager), and at least one fact-checking organization at a time from the following regions: 

  • North America
  • South America
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Western Europe
  • Central and Eastern Europe
  • The Middle East and North Africa
  • Central Asia
  • Southeast Asia. 

Other than one fact-checker, most of the selection committee members come from the core anti-harassment working group, and were approved by the verified signatories in May 2022 to serve for the next year. 


Selection Criteria

Applicants should include the following documentation in their applications:

  • identity of a lawyer to handle the case 
  • completed application form
  • copies of the legal documents
  • a budget breakdown
  • a link to, or copy of, the relevant article(s) associated with the case. 

The IFCN staff will conduct the pre-selection review and pass the applications that meet the eligibility criteria to the selection committee within five business days.

Overall, the review process will take up to 15 business days. 


FAQs

 

What is the eligibility criteria for applicants?

  • Is the fund limited to signatories or is it open to the general public? The fund is exclusively open to the verified signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter.
  • Will any grant recipients be publicly funded organizations (e.g., WHO) and/or state-owned media organizations? The fund is exclusively open to the verified signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter and such international organizations and/or state-owned media organizations are ineligible to apply for any funding.
  • How can recipients utilize the funding?  Funding CAN be used for financial support to help such fact-checkers and or fact-checking organizations among IFCN’s verified signatories pay for a local lawyer, financial support to obtain legal expertise and guidance from an experienced media defense lawyer. The fund can cover one legal phase at a time. Funding CANNOT be used for a legal retainer for ongoing counsel, proactive litigation led by the fact-checker or fact-checking organizations.

Who are the oversight committee members? 

The oversight committee consists of the following 11 representatives;

  • IFCN’s community & impact manager (Enock Nyariki)
  • RSF representative (Clayton Weimers Deputy Director, Washington, DC office)
  • Fact-checkers from the following regions (not less than one each):
    • North America
    • South America
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Western Europe
    • Central and Eastern Europe
    • The Middle East and North Africa
    • Central Asia
    • Southeast Asia 

(The specific names of oversight committee members from fact-checking organizations are disclosed to verified signatories.)

What are the selection criteria for applicants?

  • There is a real risk that the case will result in the imprisonment of the fact-checker concerned
  • There is a real risk that the case will result in the bankruptcy of the fact-checking organization, or individual fact-checker concerned
  • There is a real risk that the case will end in the closure of the fact-checking operation concerned
  • The Legal Support Fund is the only realistic avenue to provide the assistance required

How the application process will work

  • How many times will each application be reviewed?  Applications are going to be reviewed for their eligibility and then for the qualifications of their needs for the fund. 
  • How many judges will review each application? The committee will always have at least 11 representatives. All the representatives will be asked to review the applications and cast a vote. The system will automatically calculate an average score. A high score will be considered an endorsement by the committee for IFCN to award the requested grant to the applicant. Then, IFCN will coordinate with the applicant on the amount and reserve its right to negotiate it with the applicant, considering the fund’s availability to other fact-checkers. IFCN will inform the committee of any revisions to the requested funding and seek feedback on its consideration.

Terms and Conditions

Please access the full Terms and Conditions of the Legal Defence Fund Here.