Australia's ABC Fact Check fighting for survival

Reduced funding at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is likely to cause the termination of its Fact Check unit, several sources reported Monday.

Michelle Guthrie, the incoming managing director at ABC, has to address a budget shortfall in its news division on her first week on the job. The Liberal government of Malcolm Turnbull is opting not to renew the full funding for "enhanced news services" apportioned by the Labor government three years ago, The Guardian reported.

ABC management said in a statement that "ABC News will seek to maintain as many of these [enhanced newsgathering] initiatives as possible."

Poynter profiled ABC's Fact Check in January.

John Barron, who anchors the unit's televised clips, tweeted about the situation on Monday night:

https://twitter.com/FactCheckJohn/status/727447591940554754

Fact Check's team has been both prolific and accurate, publishing roughly 400 stories without having to change a verdict, Russell Skelton, ABC Fact Check's editor told Poynter via email.

Skelton also highlighted the results of the Promise Tracker, which monitors pledges from politicians, as a first-of-its-kind initiative in Australia that has garnered more than 5 million views.

"It is demoralizing for the team to read in rival media about Fact Check being axed," Skelton said. "The hope remains the reports are wrong. If they are correct, then the hope is management reconsiders."

The unit's fate will be likely determined by the end of this week, with Guthrie facing a budgetary committee hearing on Thursday.

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    Alexios Mantzarlis

    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 also trains and convenes fact-checkers around the world.

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