My opening remarks for Global Fact 7, delivered from Oslo, Norway*, on June 22, 2020.
I’m going to do something a little different this year. I’m going to fact-check my own opening remarks using this antique PolitiFact Pants on Fire button. You know Pants on Fire – it’s our rating for the most ridiculous falsehoods.
First , I want to say that it’s great to be here in Norway! (Pants on Fire!)
I love Norway because I’ve always loved the great plastic furniture I buy from your famous furniture store IKEA! (Pants on Fire!)
I am accompanied today by this Norwegian gnome, which I know is very much a symbol of your great country! (Pants on Fire!)
Okay….I’m actually here in Durham, North Carolina,, but thanks to the magic of pixels and…Baybars!…I’m with you!
First, some news…
As you probably know, every year before Global Fact, the Duke Reporters’ Lab conducts a census of fact-checking to count the world’s fact-checkers and we are out today with the number. This is the product of painstaking work by Mark Stencel, Joel Luther, Mimi Goldstein and Matthew Griffin. Our count this year is 290 fact-checking projects in 83 countries. That’s up from 188 in 60 countries a year ago.
I heard that and my first thought was that …. fact-checking keeps growing!
I should note that Mark Stencel has been working hard on this, staying up all night for the last few days to get it done. So I should reveal my secret: we pay him in coffee!
This morning, I’m going to talk briefly about community.
Back in 2014, when we started planning the first meeting of the world’s fact-checkers – in which we could all squeeze into a classroom at the London School of Economics – Tom Glaisyer of the Democracy Fund gave me some important advice. Build a community, Tom said, not an association. The way to help the fact-checking movement was to be inviting and encourage journalists to start fact-checking. We’ve done that because this meeting, and our group, keeps getting larger. You could even say that … fact-checking keeps growing!
And as a bonus, we also managed to establish the Code of Principles, which provides an important incentive for transparency and fairness in your fact-checking.
My favorite example of the IFCN’s spirit of community is the simplest: our email threads. They are often amazing! A fact-checker will write with a problem they are having and community members from all over the world will respond with suggestions and even help them do the work.
Did you see the amazing one a couple of months ago? Samba of Africa Check wrote about a video that claimed to show violence against Africans in China. He knew it was fake but was not sure where it was from, so he circulated the video by email. That led to a remarkable exchange.
A coordinator from Witness in the United States said the video had been posted on Reddit. suggesting it was from New York. Jacques Pezet of Liberation in France took the image and used Google Maps to find the New York intersection where it was filmed. And then Gordon Farrer, an Australian researcher, used Google Street View to identify the business – a dental office called Brace Yourself.
All of this showed up in Samba’s fact-check in Africa Check in Senegal.
Amazing! All the product of our community!
Another great example: the tremendous work by the IFCN bringing together the world’s fact-checkers to debunk falsehoods about COVID-19. The CoronaVirus Alliance has now collected more than 6,000 fact-checks. It, too, is a product of community, organized by Baybars and Cris Tardaguila.
And one more: MediaReview. You’re going to hear about it tomorrow. It grew out of some great work by the Washington Post and we’ve been working on it with Baybars and PolitiFact and FactCheck.org and fact-checkers from around the world that attended a meeting in January. It’s a new tagging system like ClaimReview that you’ll be able to use for videos and images. I’m more excited about MediaReview than anything I’ve done since PolitiFact because it could really have an impact in the battle against misinformation.
Finally, I want to give some shoutouts to two marvelous people who embody this commitment to community. Peter Cunliffe-Jones has been an amazing builder who has done extraordinary things to bring fact-checking to Africa. And Laura Zommer has been tireless helping dozens of fact-checkers get started in Latin America.
Together, they show what’s wonderful about the IFCN: they believe in our important journalism and they have given their time and energy to help it grow.
Our community grows thanks to these wonderful leaders. I look forward to sharing a glass of wine with them — and you — next year in Oslo!
*Actually, these remarks were delivered from my backyard in Durham, North Carolina.