The number of active fact-checking projects around the world now stands at 156, with steady growth driven by expanding networks and new media partnerships that focus on holding public figures and organizations accountable for what they say.
And elections this year in the United States and around the globe mean that number will likely increase even more by the time the Duke Reporters’ Lab publishes its annual census early next year. Our map of the fact-checkers now shows them in 55 countries.
There were 149 active fact-checking ventures in the annual summary we published in February, up from 44 when we started this count in 2014. And after this summer’s Global Fact summit in Rome — where the attendee list topped 200 and the waitlist was more than three times as long — we still have plenty of other possible additions to vet and review in the coming weeks. So check back for updates.
Among the most recent additions is Faktiskt, a Swedish media partnership that aggregates reporting from five news organizations — two newspapers, two public broadcasters and a digital news service. We’ve seen other aggregation partnerships like this elsewhere, such as Faktenfinder in Germany and SNU FactCheck in South Korea. (This is a different model from the similarly named Faktisk partnership in Norway, where six news organizations operate a jointly funded fact-checking team whose work is made freely available as a public service to other media in the country.)
As we prepare for our annual fact-checking census, we plan to look more closely at the output of each contributor to these aggregation networks to see which of them we should also count as standalone fact-checkers. Our goal is to represent the full range of independent and journalistic fact-checking, including clusters of projects in particular countries and local regions, as well as ventures that find ways to operate across borders.
Along those lines, we also added checkmarks to our map for Africa Check‘s offices in Kenya and Nigeria. We had done the same previously for the South Africa-based project’s office in Senegal, which covers francophone countries in West Africa. The new additions have been around awhile too: The Kenya office has been in business since late 2016 and the Nigeria office opened two months later.
Meanwhile, our friends at Africa Check regularly help us identify other standalone fact-checking projects, including two more new additions to our database: Dubawa in Nigeria and ZimFact in Zimbabwe. The fast growth of fact-checking across Africa is one reason the International Fact-Checking Network’s sixth Global Fact summit will be in Cape Town next summer.
One legacy of these yearly summits is IFCN’s code of principles, and the code has established an independent evaluation process to certify that each of its signatories adheres to those ethical and journalistic standards. Our database includes all 58 signatories, including the U.S.-based (but Belgium-born) hoax-busting site Lead Stories; Maldita’s “Maldito Bulo” (or “Damned Hoax”) in Spain; and the “cek facta” section of the Indonesian digital news portal Liputan6. All three are among our latest additions.
There’s more to come from us. We plan to issue monthly updates as we try to keep our heads and arms around this fast-growing journalism movement. I’ll be relying heavily on Reporters’ Lab student researcher Daniela Flamini, who has just returned from a summer fact-checking internship at Chequeado in Argentina. Daniela takes over from recently graduated researcher Riley Griffin, who helped maintain our database for the past year.
My opening remarks at GlobalFact 3, the third annual meeting of the world’s fact-checkers, oragnized by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and the Reporters’ Lab, held June 9-10, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It’s amazing how our group has grown. Our latest tally in the Duke Reporters’ Lab is 105 active sites around the world, which is up more than 60 percent from last year.
We’ve also seen marvelous growth in international collaborations. Alexios has organized some impressive check-a-thons for economic summits and other events, uniting more than a dozen fact-checkers for a single event. And a few months ago, Africa Check joined PolitiFact for an unprecedented partnership to check claims about global health and development.
Our fact-checks are increasingly having an impact. Politicians cite them in speeches and campaign commercials. One organization recently emailed its senior staff reminding them about the new Africa Check-PolitiFact project, cautioning them to be accurate in their statements. In Ireland, attention generated by a Journal.ie fact-check halted a viral social media campaign to “name and shame” Irish parliamentarians for their purportedly low attendance at a debate on mental health services.
Here in Argentina, Gabriella Michetti, vice-presidential candidate on the Macri ticket, was asked about a “Falso” she got from Chequeado. She replied, ”I saw that on Chequeado. Which is why we corrected ourselves and never repeated it.”
Our audiences are growing. In the United States, the three big fact-checkers are all reporting record-breaking traffic. A debate article by FactCheck.org got more than 1.8 million page views on the site and partners such as MSN.com.
In the United States, we have a presidential candidate named Donald Trump — perhaps you have heard of him — who has shown why fact-checking is so important. Some pundits have said his disregard for facts shows we live in a “post-fact” era when facts no longer matter. But I think it shows a more positive story: we know about Donald Trump’s falsehoods because of the tremendous work of a growing army of fact-checkers.
We’ve reached a point where fact-checking is no longer a novelty. It’s no longer something that we have to explain to the people we’re checking. It’s now a mature form of journalism — and an expected part of how news organizations cover political campaigns and government.
But now that fact-checking has matured, it’s time to make sure we push our journalism to the next level. To maintain our status as trusted sources, we need to make sure that our work is rock solid. Our fact-checks must be thoroughly researched using the most independent sources available. Our writing needs to be clear and concise.
We need to show that we do not play favorites. We need to be impartial and apply the same standards to everyone we check. And we need to check everyone. As Rem Rieder wrote in USA Todayin a column this week that mentioned our meeting, for fact-checking to work, “it has to be an equal opportunity endeavor, strictly nonpartisan.”
In the past year, the students and colleagues who maintain our fact-checking database have come across a couple of sites that primarily check one party in their political system. That’s not fact-checking; that’s advocacy. To be a reputable fact-checker, you must check all the players in your political systems.
Fact-checkers also need to be transparent in our work. We need to explain how we choose statements to check and how our ratings work. We need to reveal our sources and be clear how we reached our conclusions.
We also need to be transparent about the funding and structure of our organizations. We need to explain who gives us money and reassure our readers and consumers that we are not political activists.
We also need to continue to expand our audiences. I continue to be surprised by the relatively limited use of fact-checking on television. We should seek more partnerships with TV networks and show them that the fact-checking makes great TV. You will love hearing from our keynote speaker, Natalia Hernández Rojo, who does some of the best TV fact-checks in the world for La Sexta’s El Objetivo in Spain. We can all learn a lot from Natalia.
Finally, I want to conclude with a suggestion. In catching up with many of you in the past couple of days I have realized that I have not done enough to follow your work. So I’m going to set a new goal to read one fact-check every day. I’ll randomly choose a site from our Reporters’ Lab database and read the most recent one.
I encourage you to do the same thing — a fact-check a day. It’s a new way that we can continue to build our community. By reading each other’s work, we can learn about each other and improve our work.
It’s a wonderful time to be in our movement. Fact-checking keeps growing and it has become a powerful force that informs democracies around the world. We need to maintain that momentum and make sure that our work is the best it can be.
How long should fact-checks be? How should they attribute their sources — with links or a detailed list? Should they provide a thorough account of a fact-checker’s work or distill it into a short summary?
Those are just a few of the areas explored in a fascinating new study by Lucas Graves, a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin. He presented a summary of his research last month at the 2015 Global Fact-Checking Summit in London.
The pilot project represents the first in-depth qualitative analysis of global fact-checking. It was funded by the Omidyar Network as part of its grant to the Poynter Institute to create a new fact-checking organization. The study, done in conjunction with the Reporters’ Lab, lays the groundwork for a more extensive analysis of additional sites in the future.
The findings reveal that fact-checking is still a new form of journalism with few established customs or practices. Some fact-checkers write long articles with lots of quotes to back up their work. Others distill their findings into short articles without any quotes. Graves did not take a position on which approach is best, but his research gives fact-checkers some valuable data to begin discussions about how to improve their journalism.
Graves and three research assistants examined 10 fact-checking articles from each of six different sites: Africa Check, Full Fact in the United Kingdom, FactChecker.in in India, PolitiFact in the United States, El Sabueso in Mexico and UYCheck in Uruguay. The sites were chosen to reflect a wide range of global fact-checking, as this table shows:
Graves and his researchers found a surprising range in the length of the fact-checking articles. UYCheck from Uruguay had the longest articles, with an average word count of 1,148, followed by Africa Check at 1,009 and PolitiFact at 983.
The shortest were from Full Fact, which averaged just 354 words. They reflected a very different approach by the British team. Rather than lay out the factual claims and back them up with extensive quotes the way most other sites do, the Full Fact approach is to distill them down to summaries.
Graves also found a wide range of data visualization in the articles sampled for each site. For example, Africa Check had three data visualizations in its 10 articles, while there were 11 in the Indian site FactChecker.in.
The Latin American sites UYCheck and El Sabueso used the most infographics, while the other sites relied more on charts and tables.
Graves also found a wide range in the use of web links and quotes. Africa Check averaged the highest total of web links and quotes per story (18), followed by 12 for PolitiFact, while UYCheck and El Sabueso had the fewest (8 and 5, respectively). Full Fact had no quotes in the 10 articles Graves examined but used an average of 9 links per article.
Graves and his researchers also examined how fact-checkers use links and quotes — whether they were used to provide political context about the claim being checked, to explain the subject being analyzed or to provide evidence about whether the claim was accurate. They found some sites, such as Africa Check and PolitiFact, used links more to provide context for the claim, while UYCheck and El Sabueso used them more for evidence in supporting a conclusion.
The analysis of quotes yielded some interesting results. PolitiFact used the most in the 10 articles — 38 quotes — with its largest share from evidentiary uses. Full Fact used the fewest (zero), followed by UYCheck (23) and El Sabueso (26).
The study also examined what Graves called “synthetic” sources — the different authoritative sources used to explain an issue and decide the accuracy of a claim. This part of the analysis distilled a final list of institutional sources for each fact-check, regardless of whether sources were directly quoted or linked to. AfricaCheck led the list with almost nine different authoritative sources considered on average, more than twice as many as FactChecker.in and UYCheck. Full Fact, UYCheck, and El Sabueso relied mainly on government agencies and data, while PolitiFact and Africa Check drew heavily on NGOs and academic experts in addition to official data.
The study raises some important questions for fact-checkers discuss. Are we writing are fact-checks too long? Too short?
Are we using enough data visualizations to help readers? Should we take the time to create more infographics instead of simple charts and tables?
What do we need to do to give our fact-checks authority? Are links sufficient? Or should we also include quotes from experts?
Over the next few months, we’ll have plenty to discuss.
My opening remarks at the Global Fact-Checking Summit at City University London, July 23, 2015:
This is an exciting time for fact-checking around the world.
A year ago, we had 44 active fact-checking groups. Today we have 64. We’ve got new sites in countries where there hasn’t been any fact-checking before — South Korea and Turkey and Uruguay. And we’ve got many fact-checking sites in Latin America thanks in part to the energetic work of Laura Zommer and her talented colleagues at Chequeado.
And joining us today are journalists from brand-new fact-checking sites just getting started in Nepal, Canada, Northern Ireland and Russia.
Wow. Think about what is happening here: politicians in Nepal and Canada and Mexico and Northern Ireland and Russia are now going to be held accountable in ways that they never have before.
Fact-checking has become a powerful and important new form of accountability journalism around the world. We should be very proud of what we’ve accomplished.
There are some great stories about our impact.
In South Africa, Africa Check has become such an important part of the news ecosystem that when someone from the main opposition party gives a speech, the party routinely issues a standard form – they call it the “Africa Check Response Form” – to list sources that back up claims the politician is making during the speech.
In Italy, a politician posted on his Facebook page that several thousand policemen had tested positive for tuberculosis because they had come into contact with immigrants crossing the Mediterranean illegally. The rumor fueled fears in Italy that the disease was about to become an epidemic. Pagella Politica fact-checked the claim and found it was ridiculously false. When confronted with the fact-check on a radio interview, the politician had the good sense to apologize for spreading a false rumor.
In the United States, fact-checkers are already uncovering falsehoods of the 2016 presidential candidates at a remarkable pace — and the election is more than a year away.
From governors to U.S. senators, American politicians are frequently citing the U.S. fact-checkers — and are clearly changing their behavior because they know they are being checked. Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, three of the Republican presidential candidates, have all said they are more careful what they say because they know they are being fact-checked — and this is the term they used — “PolitiFacted.”
This is a wonderful moment for our movement. In hundreds of ways big and small, fact-checking has changed the world.
But rather than spend a lot of time celebrating the progress we’ve made, this week I think we should focus on the future and discuss some of our common problems and challenges.
We need to talk candidly about our readership. Although our audience is growing, it is still way too small. I expect that in most countries, fact-checks reach only a tiny percentage of voters.
We can’t be complacent and wait for people to come to our sites. We must expand our audiences through creative marketing and partnerships with larger media organizations. We must get our fact-checking in the old media — on TV and radio and in newspapers — even as we experiment with new media.
We also have to find new ways to make our content engaging. As we all know from looking at our metrics, there is a limited audience that wants to read lengthy policy articles. We need to find ways to make our content lively while still maintaining depth and substance.
We also need to focus on the quality of our journalism. Tomorrow morning Lucas Graves will be unveiling the first content analysis of fact-checking around the world. I’m hopeful it will lead to a thorough discussion of our best practices and, later this year, to a more extensive analysis of more sites in more countries.
We’ve devoted the longest session at the conference to the most significant challenge fact-checkers are facing — how to pay for our journalism. If you’ve looked at the database of fact-checkers I keep on the website of the Duke Reporters’ Lab, you’ve probably noticed that sites are marked “Active” or “Inactive.”
We do that because sites come and go, particularly after elections. In some cases, that’s because news organizations mistakenly believe that fact-checking is only needed during a campaign (Do news executives really think politicians stop lying on election day?). In most cases, sites go inactive because the funding dried up.
So at the conference this week, we must explore a wide variety of ways to pay for our important journalism. We can’t depend solely on foundations the way many of us have done. Likewise, those of us who have been fortunate enough to have been supported by legacy media organizations like newspapers and television networks would also be wise to find additional sources of revenue.
We need to think broadly and be creative. We can find long-term success the same way investors do: by diversifying. If we seek different types of revenue from more sources, we’ll be less vulnerable when one goes away.
As we look to the future, we also need to embrace technology and the power of computing. We’ve had a fascinating discussion about computing on our listserv a couple of weeks ago. But in that discussion and some others, I’ve heard a few hints that fact-checkers still have a skepticism about technology — the belief that computers won’t be able to do the work of human journalists. As one commenter put it, computers aren’t capable of assessing the complexity of politics and propaganda
I rate that statement Half True. While it’s true that computers can’t write fact-checks for us – yet – we have found ways they can help with our analysis, particularly with mundane and repetitive tasks.
As you’ll see in a session tomorrow, research projects at Duke, the University of Texas at Arlington and other places are showing great promise in using computational power to help journalists do fact-checking. Actually, computers CAN assess rhetoric and propaganda.
Although we are still years away from completely automated fact-checking — letting the robots do fact-checking for us — we have made tremendous progress in just the past year.
I think we’re just three to five years away from the point when automation can do many of the tasks of human fact-checkers — helping us find factual claims, helping us assess whether claims are accurate and providing automated ways to broadcast our fact-checks to much larger audiences.
We should not be afraid of technological progress. It will help us be better journalists and it will help us spread our messages to more people.
I’m glad you’re here. We’ve got some lively discussions ahead. Whether we’re talking about our challenges with funding, the importance of lively content or the promise of new technology, our goal is the same: To hold people in power accountable for their words.
Julian Rademeyer first saw the claim in a BBC news article.
Traditional healers “remain the first point of contact for physical and psychological ailments for about 80% of black South Africans according to authorities,” it said.
His Africa Check team began to research it and quickly discovered the BBC wasn’t the first outlet to publish the claim. It also had been published by the South African Medical Journal and even the World Health Organization. That gave the claim a stamp of credibility even though the number seemed high.
So Rademeyer’s team kept digging to find out if the claim was true.
* * *
Three years ago, few people had heard of Africa Check. It was a new fact-checking organization styled after the U.S. site PolitiFact and Full Fact, a British group. But today, Africa Check is better known and its work is often cited by media organizations around the world.
“We’re hitting the tipping point now where we’re becoming a credible source,” says Rademeyer, Africa Check’s editor, who visited Duke in April as part of the Reporters’ Lab’s Visiting Fact-Checker Program. “It’s kind of cool because it shows that people are looking at our work.”
Africa Check has been featured in the Economist, the New York Times, and a host of South African papers that receive free syndicated material from Africa Check. Larger recognition means that organizations now turn to Africa Check to debunk claims. GroundUp, a South African community journalism project, contacted Rademeyer and his team to investigate the traditional healer “fact.”
* * *
Fact-checking is an ideal line of work for Rademeyer, who has been a skeptical journalist since he was a teenager.
In the 1980s, police death squads, mass protests and a civil society reckoning with the end of the apartheid rocked South Africa. For the teenage Rademeyer, investigative writers and photojournalists offered him a world out of reach to the average white South African.
“These guys were documenting this and getting incredible stories, showing a side of things that was beyond people’s comfort zones,” said Rademeyer.
While other teenagers were immersed in sports or television (his family didn’t own one until the ‘90s), Rademeyer spent his time reading. His father, a history teacher at his high school, kept a steady supply of National Geographic magazines in the house to satisfy Rademeyer’s growing fondness for good writing.
With the help of an inspirational high school English teacher (cue comparisons to Dead Poets Society), Rademeyer and his friends started an edgy newsmagazine, The Interview. Not your average school paper, it included interviews with recently freed African National Congress leaders and features on scientology, painstakingly laid out by hand on A4 paper.
After high school, he knocked on the door of a reporter he admired and asked for a job.
“I guess maybe I was persistent enough, and maybe he was just bored, but he kind of kept me around, and paid me some pathetic sum of money to pack files in his office.” He took some college classes while he worked.
Rademeyer eventually found a stringing job for Reuters and then worked his way to the Sunday Times and Media24. He carved a niche doing investigative work around corruption and organized crime.
While at Media24, Rademeyer came across a puzzling link between a smuggled rifle and a farmer. He tracked this lead all the way from game hunting permits to Thai sex workers, and then from political assassinations to the Angolan Bush War. His two-year odyssey culminated in his South African best-selling book, Killing for Profit, which exposed the complexities of the illegal rhino horn trade.
“You get one link, and another link and it just keeps going. South Africa’s history is so interesting for me and multi-layered. Every story you start digging has all these layers to it,” said Rademeyer.
* * *
Fact-checking requires that same kind of digging, but it often doesn’t result in the same certainty as investigative reporting.
Africa Check conclusions are often qualified and tempered with explanations. That speaks to the trouble of first obtaining and then sifting through government data, which may be inaccurate, in old formats that are hard to analyze, or not even exist. He said some agencies flout Promotion of Access to Information Act (POIA) requests, which mandate the release of government information.
“It can be incredibly frustrating because the data isn’t readily available, and quite a number [of agencies] are very obstructive when it comes time to check information,” said Rademeyer. “Anything in-depth takes everything from a couple of days to weeks” to research.
When Africa Check launched an inquiry into a claim from South Africa’s Department of Basic Education that it was building a school a week, Rademeyer’s team found serious discrepancies in scheduling. Although 11 schools were built, it took a year instead of 11 weeks. The department refused to comment at first, and then lashed out in press releases.
Other government agencies and political parties have been more receptive. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, now responds to Africa Check queries by listing its sources. Other government officials have told Rademeyer they believe Africa Check is quite fair.
Rademeyer sees this as a sign of progress.
“Instead of ‘how dare you fact-check us,’ we’re seeing a slow movement around this. [Africa Check] will be part of the process.”
Fact-checking can be important in Africa, where rumors can have serious consequences. For example, Africa Check has debunked claims about “quack cures” of HIV/AIDS that circulate among the relatively large number of people who have the disease.
Africa Check has also debunked fabricated massacre reports on the militant group Boko Haram.
“When there’s real evidence of Boko Haram atrocities, what do you believe? How do you know that its genuine and true? It’s a mess,” says Rademeyer.
Like its Western counterparts, South African papers are struggling with less advertising revenue, which has led to staff cuts. That means fewer reporters to cover more topics, leaving less time for detailed fact checks. Government agencies can leak false information, knowing it’s bound to undergo less scrutiny before it’s published.
“The spin doctors have become very good with exploiting reporters,” said Rademeyer.
But the politicians and their parties are realizing that fact-checking is now part of the journalistic landscape. Rademeyer recounts a conversation an Africa Check employee had with a political researcher, who now cautions his colleagues:
“Have you been Africa-Checked lately?”
* * *
As they dug into the claim about traditional healers. Rademeyer’s team discovered it had appeared in various World Health Organization reports, which all referred to a 1983 book by Robert Bannerman called Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Coverage.
Ultimately, the fact-checkers tracked down a copy. The book said traditional healers offer their services to the 80 percent of the world’s population that lacks permanent healthcare services. No attribution or sources were listed.
In the 30 years since that was published, the claim was warped and repeated. Sometimes the claim said the statistic was for South Africa; other times it referred to all of Africa.
In Africa Check’s article, Rademeyer cited a 2013 South African household survey which found only 0.1% of households regularly consult healers, and most use public health facilities.
We had a great turnout for last week’s regional meeting of fact-checkers in Perugia, Italy.
The 15 attendees came from fact-checking sites in Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Iran, Africa, Nepal, Italy and the United States. Several came long distances: Damakant Jayshi, who is starting a new site in Nepal, traveled about 4,000 miles; Farhad Souzanchi, who operates the Iranian Rouhani Meter from Toronto, Canada, came 4,300 miles.
Alexios Mantzarlis, his team from Pagella Politica, and RAI TV producer Alberto Puoti were our Italian hosts. They translated menus, recommended the local specialties (wild boar!) and helped us appreciate good olive oil.
One discovery: It turns out there is good wine in Italy, so we tried some.
We organized the meeting to coincide with the International Journalism Festival, a wonderful conference held every year in the old hilltop city. (Actually, calling an Italian city “old” is probably redundant!)
At the journalism festival, Alexios, Peter Cunliffe-Jones and I were on a panel that showed how fact-checking can be done by any beat reporter. Margo Gontar of Stop Fake in Ukraine was on a panel about debunking false information.
We all got together Saturday morning in a hotel conference room and discussed the challenge of sustainability and how we can find new sources of revenue. We also talked about our two successful global checkathons and the pros and cons of fact-checking the media.
We discussed possible topics for our London summit in late July, including how to adapt fact-checks to different platforms, how to make our work more lively and how to measure our impact.
Another topic: the need to collect examples of how our fact-checking is having an impact. I’m going to create a simple Google form that you can use to submit anecodtes and then I’ll publish them here.
The Perugia meeting was truly inspiring for me. It showed how this new form of journalism continues to grow. As always, I came away impressed by the caliber of the journalists doing the work and their dedication. I was particularly impressed by Farhad and Damakant, who are fact-checking and promise-checking politicians in countries that are not very welcoming to journalists. They show that our work doesn’t just take journalistic skill, it also takes courage.
Government officials in many African countries use a variety of tricks to make it difficult for journalists to get the data and documents they need, Julian Rademeyer, editor of Africa Check, told Duke students on Monday. Some officials often don’t answer calls from reporters or use stalling tactics. Occasionally, they even hide their records.
“Rape dockets have been shoved away into a store room to hide them from people doing docket analysis,” Rademeyer said at a lunchtime workshop for students. “Some government departments pretend we don’t exist and don’t get back to us.”
Rademeyer, who heads the first fact-checking website in sub-saharan Africa, is the first journalist to take part in the Reporters’ Lab’s Visiting Fact-Checker program, which brings journalists to Duke to give speeches and meet with editors and reporters in the United States.
Rademeyer said there is high quality public data in South Africa, but not nearly as much as in the United States. That can make it difficult to know sort out what’s true and what’s not.
“Sometimes they don’t give you accurate information,” Rademeyer said. “The best you can do in that situation is flag the data as unreliable.”
Africa Check reporters have found that the availability of data varies from country to country. For example, finding reliable employment data in Zimbabwe is even more difficult than in South Africa.
In South Africa, police are required to lower crime rates each year, creating pressure to fix the numbers. This leads to disturbing attempts at shelving important data.
Real-time data on crime in South Africa is not available because crime statistics are only released annually by police, Rademeyer said. This means that citizens don’t have access to meaningful crime data to enable them to assess risks in their neighborhoods. There have also been efforts by police and politicians to spin crime statistics to create the impression that crime levels have fallen when in fact many categories of serious and violent crime have increased dramatically in the past two years, he said.
Rademeyer will participate in “Ebola: Fact-checking myths that kill” today from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. in Sanford 03. This talk will focus on debunking false claims about the disease, and how they spread.
Julian Rademeyer, the editor of AfricaCheck, will be the first journalist to take part in the Visiting Fact-Checker Program of the Duke Reporters’ Lab when he visits the Sanford School of Public Policy in late March.
During his week-long visit, which is sponsored by the Duke Africa Initiative, Rademeyer will speak to students and faculty at two events:
The challenges of fact-checking and collecting data in Africa — A workshop on how journalists at Africa Check deal with the challenge of lack of transparency and limited data in many African countries. Finding accurate data is often a slow, frustrating and arduous process. But the fact-checkers can play a vital role in pointing out the weaknesses, campaigning for better data and pushing back against government bureaucracies that obfuscate and obstruct. Monday, March 30, Noon-1:15 p.m., Rubenstein 149
Ebola: Fact-checking myths that kill — In Liberia, villagers claimed that Ebola was “only a rumor” and a crowd, angered at the sudden quarantine of patients, stormed a clinic to release them, shouting, “There is no Ebola”. In Nigeria, a prominent professor of ophthalmology claimed that drinking a concoction made from a plant popularly known as ewedu can help prevent and even cure Ebola. Throughout the continent, fear about Ebola has sometimes outpaced the truth. Julian Rademeyer, the editor of the fact-checking site Africa Check, will discuss how the falsehoods have spread and how fact-checkers have worked to debunk them. Wednesday, April 1, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Sanford 03.
Rademeyer is an award-winning journalist and the author of the best-selling book Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade. He heads AfricaCheck, which researches claims by politicians and the media in Africa and promotes fact-checking throughout the continent.
The Duke Africa Initiative brings together scholars with an interest in Africa and sponsors programs about the countries and cultures of the African continent.
Rademeyer will be the first to participate in the Visiting Fact-Checker Program of the Reporters’ Lab, a new effort to invite fact-checkers to Duke to share their experiences and meet with journalists in the United States.