BUENOS AIRES — Fact-checking is booming in Latin America.
Inspired by the success of Chequeado in Argentina and El Poligrafo in Chile, fact-checking sites have sprung up in Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Colombia and new sites are planned in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru and Nicaragua.
The fact-checkers from Latin America gathered in Buenos Aires last weekend to discuss their work and exchange tips with colleagues from other countries. The Latam Chequea conference, organized by the staff of Chequeado, was the first regional event of the international group of fact-checkers that formed last June at the Poynter Global Fact Checking Summit in London.
At the Buenos Aires event, speakers from Chequaedo, FactCheck.org, Africa Check, PolitiFact and Fact Check EU talked about the challenges of their new form of accountability journalism and how it is empowering democracy.
Laura Zommer and her energetic team at Chequeado are leading the movement in Latin America, sharing tips and techniques with the new fact-checkers. The conference included “Chequeaton,” an event that allowed college students and people in the community to try fact-checking. (I was on a team that analyzed a statement by Uruguay’s president and rated it “Exagerado.” UYCheck later did a more thorough analysis and rated it “Inflado.”)
The new Latin American sites are really impressive. In Colombia, the political news website La Silla Vacia started “The Lie Detector”, which fact-checked candidates for the congressional and presidential elections this year.
UYCheck uses a scale from Verdadero to Ridiculo to rate statements by politicians in Uruguay.
There are two new sites in Brazil: Preto No Branco, a fact-checking blog of the newspaper O Globo, and Truco, a colorful site named after a card game that is run by Agencia Publica, a non-profit journalism organization.
Cristina Tardaguila Ferreira, who runs Preto No Branco, said they did 86 fact-checks in about three weeks, including live checking of presidential debates.
“We stayed up all night for many, many nights,” she said.
But Ferreira said she still found the experience exhilarating. “I feel renewed in this project.”