“Fact-checking database”

2003 Fact-checking Census

Misinformation spreads, but fact-checking has leveled off

10th annual fact-checking census from the Reporters' Lab tracks an ongoing slowdown

By Joel Luther – June 21, 2023 | Print this article

While much of the world’s news media has struggled to find solid footing in the digital age, the number of fact-checking outlets reliably rocketed upward for years — from a mere 11 sites in 2008 to 424 in 2022.

But the long strides of the past decade and a half have slowed to a more trudging pace, despite increasing concerns around the world about the impact of manipulated media, political lies and other forms of dangerous hoaxes and rumors.

In our 10th annual fact-checking census, the Duke Reporters’ Lab counts 417 fact-checkers that are active so far in 2023, verifying and debunking misinformation in more than 100 countries and 69 languages.

While the count of fact-checkers routinely fluctuates, the current number is roughly the same as it was in 2022 and 2021.

In more blunt terms: Fact-checking’s growth seems to have leveled off.

2023 fact-checkers by year

Since 2018, the number of fact-checking sites has grown by 47%. While that’s an increase of 135, it is far slower than the preceding five years, when the numbers grew more than two and a half times, or the six-fold increase over the five years before that.

There also are important regional patterns. With lingering public health issues, climate disasters, and Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine, factual information is still hard to come by in important corners of the world.

Before 2020, there was a significant growth spurt among fact-checking projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. At the same time, North American fact-checking began to slow. Since then, growth in the fact-checking movement has plateaued in most of the world.

Fact-checkers by continent

The Long Haul

One good sign for fact-checking is the sustainability and longevity of many key players in the field. Almost half of the fact-checking organizations in the Reporters’ Lab count have been active for five years or more. And roughly 50 of them have been active for 10 years or more.

The average lifespan of an active fact-checking site is less than six years. The average lifespan of the 139 fact-checkers that are now inactive was not quite three years.

But the baby boom has ended. Since 2019, when a bumper crop of 83 fact-checkers went online, the number of new sites each year has steadily declined. The Reporters’ Lab count for 2022 is at 20, plus three additions in 2023 as of this June. That reduced the rate of growth from three years earlier by 72%.

The number of fact-checkers that closed down in that same period also declined, but not as dramatically. That means the net count of new and departing sites has gone from 66 in 2019 to 11 in 2022, plus one addition so far in 2023.

Net New Fact-checkers
Note: The Reporters’ Lab updates our counts regularly as we identify and add new sites to our fact-checking database. However, the differences over time have been small. The average yearly change between our 2022 and 2023 census counts is 2.

Fact-checking Starts, Stops and NetThe Downshift

As was the case for much of the world, the pandemic period certainly contributed to the slower growth. But another reason is the widespread adoption of fact-checking by journalists and other researchers from nonpartisan think tanks and good-government groups in recent years. That has broadened the number of people doing fact-checking but created less need for news organizations dedicated to the unique form of journalism.

With teams working in 108 countries, just over half of the nations represented in the United Nations have at least one organization that already produces fact-checks for digital media, newspapers, TV reports or radio. So in some countries, the audience for fact-checks might be a bit saturated. As of June, there are 71 countries that have more than one fact-checker.

Number of Fact-checkers Per Country

Another reason for the slower pace is that launching new fact-checking projects is challenging — especially in countries with repressive governments, limited press freedom and safety concerns for journalists …. In other words, places where fact-checking is most needed.

The 2023 World Press Freedom Index rates press conditions as “very serious” in 31 countries. And almost half of those countries (15 of 31) do not have any fact-checking sites. They are Bahrain, Djibouti, Eritrea, Honduras, Kuwait, Laos, Nicaragua, North Korea, Oman, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam and Yemen. The Index also includes Palestine, the status of which is contested.

Remarkably, there are 62 fact-checking services in the 16 other countries on the “very serious” list. And in eight of those countries, there is more than one site. India, which ranks 161 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, is home to half of those 62 sites. The other countries with more than one fact-checking organization are Bangladesh, China, Venezuela, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt and Myanmar.

In some cases, fact-checkers from those countries must do their work from other parts of the world or hide their identities to protect themselves or their families. That typically means those journalists and researchers must work anonymously or report on a country as expats from somewhere else. Sometimes both.

At least three fact-checking teams from the Middle East take those precautions: Fact-Nameh (“The Book of Facts”), which reports on Iran from Canada; Tech 4 Peace, an Iraq-focused site that also has members who work in Canada; and Syria’s Verify-Sy, whose staff includes people who operate from Turkey and Europe.

Two other examples are elTOQUE DeFacto, a project of a Cuban news website that is legally registered in Poland; and the fact-checkers at the Belarusian Investigative Center, which is based in the Czech Republic.

In other cases, existing fact-checking organizations have also established separate operations in difficult places. The Indian sites BOOM and Fact Crescendo​ have set-up fact-checking services in Bangladesh, while the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has fact-checkers that report on misinformation from Hong Kong, India and Myanmar, among others.

There still are places where fact-checking is growing, and much of that has to do with organizations that have multiple outlets and bureaus — such as AFP, as noted above. The French international news service has about 50 active sites aimed at audiences in various countries and various languages.

India-based Fact Crescendo​ launched two new channels in 2022 — one for Thailand and another focused broadly on climate issues. Along with two other outlets the previous year, Fact Crescendo now has a total of eight sites.

The 2022 midterm elections in the United States added six new local fact-checking outlets to our global tally, all at the state level. Three of the new fact-checkers were the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, The Nevada Independent and Wisconsin Watch, all of whom used a platform called Gigafact that helped generate quick-hit “Fact Briefs” for their audiences. But the Arizona Center is no longer participating. (For more about the 2022 U.S. elections see “From Fact Deserts to Fact Streams” — a March 2023 report from the Reporters’ Lab.)

About the Reporters’ Lab and Its Census

The Duke Reporters’ Lab began tracking the international fact-checking community in 2014, when director Bill Adair organized a group of about 50 people who gathered in London for what became the first Global Fact meeting. Subsequent Global Facts led to the creation of the International Fact-Checking Network and its Code of Principles.

The Reporters’ Lab and the IFCN use similar criteria to keep track of fact-checkers, but use somewhat different methods and metrics. Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database and census reports. If you have questions, updates or additions, please contact Mark Stencel, Erica Ryan or Joel Luther.

* * *

Related links: Previous fact-checking census reports

April 2014: https://reporterslab.org/duke-study-finds-fact-checking-growing-around-the-world/

January 2015: https://reporterslab.org/fact-checking-census-finds-growth-around-world/

February 2016: https://reporterslab.org/global-fact-checking-up-50-percent/

February 2017: https://reporterslab.org/international-fact-checking-gains-ground/

February 2018: https://reporterslab.org/fact-checking-triples-over-four-years/

June 2019: https://reporterslab.org/number-of-fact-checking-outlets-surges-to-188-in-more-than-60-countries/

June 2020: https://reporterslab.org/annual-census-finds-nearly-300-fact-checking-projects-around-the-world/

June 2021: https://reporterslab.org/fact-checking-census-shows-slower-growth/

June 2022: https://reporterslab.org/fact-checkers-extend-their-global-reach-with-391-outlets-but-growth-has-slowed/

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Vast gaps in fact-checking across the U.S. allow politicians to elude scrutiny

A Reporters' Lab review of local fact-checking finds only a small percentage of politicians and other public officials are held accountable for the accuracy of the claims they make.

By Joel Luther – March 29, 2023 | Print this article

Click here to read the full report.

The candidates running last year for an open seat in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District exchanged a relentless barrage of scathing claims, counterclaims and counter-counterclaims.

Emilia Sykes was a former Democratic leader in the state legislature who came from a prominent political family. Her opponent called Sykes a lying, liberal career politician who raised her own pay, increased taxes on gas and retirement accounts, and took money from Medicare funds to “pay for free healthcare for illegals.” Other attack ads warned voters that the Democrat backed legislation that would release dangerous criminals from jail.1

Sykes’ opponent, Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, was an attorney, a former Miss Ohio, and a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump. Sykes’ and her backers called Gilbert a liar who would “push for tax cuts for millionaires” and slash Social Security and Medicare. Gilbert backed a total abortion ban with no exceptions, they warned (“not even if the rape victim is a 10 year old girl”) and she had the support of political groups that aim to “outlaw birth control.”2

Voters in one of the country’s most contested U.S. House races heard those allegations over and over — in TV ads, social media posts and from the candidates themselves.

But were any of those statements and allegations true? Who knows?

Ohio was one of 25 states where no statewide or local media outlet consistently fact-checked political statements. So voters in the 13th District were on their own to sort out the truth and the lies. 

But their experience was not unique. Throughout the country, few politicians had to worry about being held accountable for exaggerations or lies in ads or other claims during the campaign. 

An extensive review by the Duke Reporters’ Lab of candidates and races that were fact-checked found only a small percentage of politicians and public officials were held accountable for the accuracy of what they said.

The results were striking.

Governors were the most likely elected officials to face review by fact-checkers at the state and local level. But still fewer than half of the governors had even a single statement checked (19 out of 50).

For those serving in Congress, the chances of being checked were even lower. Only 33 of 435 U.S. representatives (8%) were checked. In the U.S. Senate, a mere 16 of 100 lawmakers were checked by their home state news media.

The smaller the office, the smaller the chance of being checked. Out of 7,386 state legislative seats, just 47 of those lawmakers were checked (0.6%). And among the more than 1,400 U.S. mayors of cities of 30,000 people or more, just seven were checked (0.5%).

These results build on an earlier Reporters’ Lab report3 immediately after the election, which showed vast geographical gaps in fact-checking at the state and local level. Voters in these “fact deserts” have few, if any, ways to keep up with misleading political claims on TV and social media. Nor can they easily hold public officials and institutions accountable for any inaccuracies and disinformation they spread.

A color coded map showing which states have active local fact-checking projects.

Longstanding national fact-checking projects fill in some of the gaps. FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press sometimes focus on high-profile races at the state and local level. They and other national media outlets also monitor the statements of prominent state-level politicians who have their eyes fixed on higher offices — such as the White House.

But our review of the 2022 election finds that the legacy fact-checking groups have not scaled to the vast size and scope of the American political system. Voters need more fact-checks, on more politicians, more quickly. And fact-checkers need to develop more robust and creative ways to distribute and showcase those findings.

We found big gaps in coverage, but also opportunities for some relatively easy collaborations. Politicians and campaigns repeatedly use the same lines and talking points. Fact-checkers sometimes cite each other’s work when the same claims pop up in other places and other mouths. But there’s relatively little organized collaboration among fact-checkers to quickly respond to recycled claims. Collaborative projects in the international fact-checking community offer potential templates. Technology investments would help, too.

Who’s Getting Fact-Checked?

To examine the state of regional fact-checking, the Duke Reporters’ Lab identified 50 active and locally focused fact-checking projects from 25 states and the District of Columbia.4 That count was little changed from the national election years since 2016, when an average of 46 fact-checking projects were active at the state and local level.

The fact-checking came from a mix of TV news stations, newspaper companies, digital media sites and services, and two public radio stations. PolitiFact’s state news affiliates also include two university partnerships, including a student newspaper. (See the full report for a complete list and descriptions.) 

Active Local Fact-Checking Outlets by Year

A bar chart showing growth in local fact-checking.

Journalists from those news organizations cranked out 976 fact-checks, verifying the accuracy of more than 1,300 claims from Jan. 1, 2022, to Election Day. 

But thousands more claims went unchecked. That became clear when we began to determine who was getting fact-checked.

As part of our research, we reviewed the fact-checkers’ output in text, video and audio format. We identified a “claim” as a statement or image that served as the basis of a news report that analyzed its accuracy based on reliable evidence. That included a mix of political statements as well as other kinds of fact-checks — such as local issues, social trends and health concerns.

We excluded explanatory stories that did not analyze a specific claim or reach a conclusion. Of the more than 970 fact-checks we reviewed, about 13% examined multiple claims.

The Reporters’ Lab found that a vast majority of politicians at the state and local level elude the fact-checking process, from city council to statewide office. But elected officials and candidates in some places got more scrutiny than others. 

Some interesting findings:

The most-checked politician was Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican. Reynolds topped the list with 28 claims checked, largely because of two in-depth articles from the Gazette Fact Checker in Cedar Rapids, which covered 10 claims from her Condition of the State address in January 2022, and another 10 from her delivery of the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union in March.

Other more frequently checked politicians included Michigan gubernatorial challenger Tudor Dixon, a Republican (18); Cindy Axne, a Democrat who lost her bid for reelection to a U.S. House seat in Iowa (16); and incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a Republican (16).

Also near the top of the list were former President Trump, a Republican (15), who was sometimes checked on claims during local appearances; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat (15); Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat (15); Evers’ Republican challenger Tim Michels (14); Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a Republican (13); and Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (12).

Most-Checked Politicians

A bar chart showing which politicians are most fact-checked.

Overall, individual claims by sitting governors were checked 130 times (10% of claims); by U.S. representatives 96 times (7%); by state legislators 77 times (6%); by U.S. senators 61 times (5%); and by mayors 11 times (1%).

Most-Checked Politicians By Office Held

A bar chart showing the distribution of fact-checks by office held.

For comparison, President Joe Biden’s claims were checked more than 100 times by national fact-checkers from PolitiFact, The Washington Post and others.

While these numbers focus on direct checking of the politicians themselves, fact-checkers also analyzed claims by other partisan sources, including deep-pocket political organizations running attack ads in many races.

There was more checking of Republicans/conservative politicians and political groups (553 claims, or 42%) than Democratic/progressive groups (382 claims, or 29%). If we look strictly at the 942 claims from claimants we identified as political, 59% were Republican/conservative and 41% were Democratic/progressive. 

Read the full report here.

Our Recommendations

Fact-checking is a challenging type of journalism. It requires speed, meticulous research and a thick skin. It also requires a willingness to call things as they are, instead of hiding behind the misleading niceties of both-siderism. And yet, over the past decade, dozens of state and local news organizations have adopted this new type of journalism. 

The 50 fact-checking programs we examined during last year’s midterm election invested time, energy and money to combat political falsehoods and push back against other types of misinformation. Even at a time of upheaval in the local news business, we have seen TV news stations, newspaper companies, and nonprofit newsrooms embrace this mission.

But all this work is not enough. 

Misinformation and disinformation spread far, fast and at a scale that is almost impossible for news media fact-checkers to keep pace. If journalists aim to reestablish a common set of facts, we need to do more fact-checking. 

Our recommendations for dramatically increasing local media’s capacity for fact-checking include: 

Invest in more fact-checking 

The challenge: Despite the diligent work of local fact-checking outlets in 25 states and the District of Columbia, only a relative handful of politicians and public officials were ever fact-checked. And in half the country, there was no active fact-checking at all.

The recommendation: It is clear that an investment in this vital journalism is sorely needed. Voters in “fact desert” states like Ohio and New Hampshire will be key to the 2024 elections. And those voters should be able to trust in local journalism to provide a check on the lies that politicians are sure to peddle in political ads, debates and other campaign events.

Even in states where local fact-checking efforts exist, they are severely outmatched by a tsunami of claims, as political organizations pump billions of dollars into campaign ads, and social media messages accelerate the spread of misinformation far and wide. The low numbers of claims checked locally in the 2022 Senate races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania demonstrate that additional help is needed in manpower and financial resources for the journalists trying to keep up with the campaign cycle.

One way to increase the volume of local fact-checking would be to incentivize projects like Gigafact and PolitiFact. These existing models can be replicated by other organizations and added in additional states. The Gigafact partners in Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin produced dozens of 140-word “fact briefs” in the run-up to the 2022 election. These structured fact-checks, which answer yes/no questions, have proved popular with audiences. Dee J. Hall, managing editor at Wisconsin Watch, which participated in the Gigafact pilot in 2022, reported that eight of the organization’s ten most popular stories in November were fact briefs.

The journalism education community can also help. During the 2022 election, PolitiFact worked with the journalism department at West Virginia University and the student newspaper at the University of Iowa to produce fact-checks for voters in their states. Expanding that model, potentially in collaboration with other national fact-checkers, could transform most of the barren “fact deserts” we’ve described in time for the 2024 general election campaign. 

Elevate fact-checking

The challenge: Fact-checking is still a niche form of reporting. It shares DNA with explanatory and investigative journalism. But it is rarely discussed at major news media conferences. There are few forums for fact-checkers at the state and local level to compare their efforts, learn from one another and focus on their distinctive reporting problems. 

The recommendation: As we continue increasing the volume of local fact-checking, audiences and potential funders need to view fact-checking with the same importance as investigative work. Investigative reporting has been a cornerstone of local news outlets’ identity and public service mission for decades. Fact-checking should be equally revered. Both are vital forms of journalism that are closely related to each other.

Some local news outlets already take this approach, with their investigative teams also producing fact-checking of claims. For example, 4 Investigates Fact Check at KOB-TV in New Mexico is an offshoot of its 4 Investigates team, and FactFinder 12 Fact Check at KWCH-TV in Kansas uses a similar model.

Fact-checkers also can elevate their work by explaining it more forcefully — on-air, online and even in person. This is an essential way to promote trust in their work. We found that 17 state and local fact-checking efforts do not provide any explanation of their process or methodology to their audiences. Offering this kind of basic guidance does not require creating and maintaining separate dedicated “about” or methodology pages. Instead, some fact-checkers, such as ConnectiFact and the Gazette Fact Checker in Iowa, embed explanations directly within their fact-checks. In this mobile era, that in-line approach might well be more important. Likewise, as TV continues to play an increasing role in fact-checking, broadcasters also need to help their viewers understand what they’re seeing.

Embrace technology and collaborate

The challenge: Several national fact-checkers in the United States work closely together with the Reporters’ Lab, as well as other academic researchers and independent developers, to test new approaches to their work. We’ve seen that same spirit of community in the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute, which has fostered cross-border collaborations and technology initiatives. In contrast, few state and local press in the United States have the capacity or technological know-how to experiment on their own. Fact-checking also has a low-profile in journalism’s investigative and tech circles.

The recommendation: There is a critical need for more investment in technology to assist fact-checkers at the state and local level. As bad actors push misinformation on social media and politicians take advantage of new technologies to mislead voters, an equal effort must be made to boost the truth.

AI can be leveraged to better track the spread of misinformation, such as catching repetitions of false talking points that catch on and circulate all around the country. A talking point tracker could help fact-checkers prioritize and respond to false claims that have already been fact-checked.

AI can also be leveraged to help with the debunking of false claims. Once a repeated talking point has been identified, a system using AI could then create the building blocks of a fact-check that a journalist could review and publish.

But none of these ideas will get very far unless journalists are willing to collaborate. Collaboration can cut down on duplication and allow more effort to be spent on fact-checking new claims. The use of technology would also have a greater impact if more organizations are willing to swap data and make use of each others’ research.

Make fact-checking easier to find

The challenge: Fact-checking in the United States has grown significantly since 2017. But fact-checks are still easy to miss on cluttered digital news feeds. Existing technology can help fact-checkers raise their profiles. But some state and local fact-checks don’t even have basic features that call attention to their reporting.

The recommendation: Nearly 180 fact-checking projects across the United States and  around the world have embraced open-source systems designed to provide data that elevate their work in search results and on large social media and messaging services. State and local fact-checkers should adopt this system as well.

The Reporters’ Lab joined with Google and Schema.org to develop a tagging system called ClaimReview. ClaimReview provides data that major digital platforms can use to recognize and suppress misinformation on their feeds. A second, related schema called MediaReview is generating similar data for visual misinformation. 

ClaimReview has helped feed a prominent collection of recent fact-checks on the front of the Google News page in half a dozen countries, including the U.S. But so far, most state and local fact-checking projects are not using ClaimReview. 

Meanwhile, the regional fact-checkers have even more foundational work to do. That more than a quarter of the active fact-checkers (13 of 50) have no dedicated page or tag for the public to find these stories is disappointing. Overcoming the limitations of inflexible publishing systems often make simple things hard. But all fact-checkers need to do more to showcase their work. Fact-checks have a long shelf life and enormous value to their audiences. 

This project was a team effort. The report was written and led by Mark Stencel, co-director of the Duke Reporters’ Lab, and project manager Erica Ryan. Student researchers Sofia Bliss-Carrascosa and Belén Bricchi were significant contributors, as was Joel Luther, research and outreach coordinator for ClaimReview and MediaReview at the Reporters’ Lab.

Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. If you know of a fact-checking project that has been missed, please contact  and  at the Reporters’ Lab.

Our thanks to Knight Foundation’s journalism program for supporting this research.

Disclosure: Stencel is an unpaid contributing editor to PolitiFact North Carolina.

1 https://nrcc.org/2022/08/31/fact-check-sykes-lies-to-oh-voters-in-first-tv-ad/



2 https://host2.adimpact.com/admo/viewer/a9400662-bc20-4e34-9a44-42d478efa451/


3 https://reporterslab.org/fact-deserts-leave-states-vulnerable-to-election-lies/

4 After an earlier report in November 2022, our Lab identified a few more election-year fact-checking efforts. That meant our total count for the year increased from 46 to 50. And the number of states that had fact-checking efforts in that period increased from 21 to 25.


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Fact Deserts

Fact deserts leave states vulnerable to election lies

Politicians in 29 states get little scrutiny for what they say, while local fact-checkers in other places struggle to keep pace with campaign misinformation.

By Belen Bricchi – November 16, 2022 | Print this article

Amid the political lies and misinformation that spread across the country throughout the 2022 midterm elections, statements by candidates in 29 states rarely faced the scrutiny of independent fact-checkers.

Fact Deserts cover
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Why? Because there weren’t any local fact-checkers.

Even in the places where diligent local media outlets regularly made active efforts to verify the accuracy of political claims, the volume of questionable statements in debates, speeches, campaign ads and social posts far outpaced the fact-checkers’ ability to set the record straight.

An initial survey by Reporters’ Lab at Duke University identified 46 locally focused fact-checking projects during this year’s campaign in 21 states and the District of Columbia. That count is little changed in the national election years since 2016, when an average of 47 fact-checking projects were active at the state and local level.

Active State/Local Fact-Checkers in the U.S., 2003-22

Active State/Local Fact-Checkers in the U.S., 2003-22

There’s also been lots of turnover among local fact-checking projects over time. At least 40 projects have come and gone since 2010. And fact-checking is not always front and center, even among the news outlets that devote considerable effort and time to this reporting.

While some fact-checkers consistently produce reports from election to election, many others are campaign-season one-offs. And the overwhelming emphasis on campaign claims can produce a fact-vacuum after the votes are counted — when elected officials, party operatives and others in the political process continue to make erroneous and misleading statements.

Fact-checks also can be hard for readers and viewers to find — sometimes appearing only in a broader scroll of state political news, with little effort to make this vital reporting stand out or to showcase it on a separate page. 

The Duke Reporters’ Lab conducted this initial survey to assess the state of local fact-checking during the 2022 midterm elections. The Lab first began tracking fact-checking projects across the United States and around the world in 2014 and maintains a global database and map of fact-checking projects.

While 29 states currently appear to have no fact-checking projects that regularly report on claims from politicians or social media at the local level, residents may encounter occasional one-off fact-checks from their state’s media outlets. 

Among the states lacking dedicated fact-checking projects are four that had hotly contested Senate or governor races this fall — New Hampshire, Kansas, Ohio and Oregon.

States with active local fact-checking projects, 2022

The states with the most robust fact-checking in terms of projects based there include Texas with five outlets; Iowa and North Carolina with four; and Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin with three each. 

Competition seems to generate additional fact-checking. States with active fact-checking projects tend to have at least two (14 states of the 21), while seven states and D.C. have a single locally focused project.

Local television stations are the most active fact-check producers. Of the outlets that generated fact-checks at the state and local level this year, more than half are local television stations. That’s a change over the past two decades, when newspapers and their websites were the primary outlets for local fact-checks.

Who Produces Local Fact-Checks?

Local fact-checking projects by medium: TV (24), newspaper (11), digital (9), radio (2)

Almost all local fact-checking projects are run by media outlets, while several are based at universities or nonprofit organizations. The university-related fact-checkers are Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; The Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa’s independent student newspaper; and West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media. All three are state affiliates of PolitiFact, the prolific national fact-checking organization based at the nonprofit Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.

National news partnerships and media owners drive a significant amount of local fact-checking. Of the 46 projects, almost a quarter are affiliated with PolitiFact, while another half-dozen are among the most active local stations participating in the Verify fact-checking project by TV company Tegna. In addition, five Graham Media Group television stations use a unified Trust Index brand at the local level.

One of the newest efforts to encourage local fact-checking is Repustar’s Gigafact, a non-profit project that partnered with three newsrooms to counter misinformation during the midterms. The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, The Nevada Independent and Wisconsin Watch produced “fact briefs,” which are short, timely reports that answer yes or no questions, such as “Is Nevada’s violent crime rate higher than the national average?

Nearly 40 percent of the fact-checkers in the Lab’s count got their start since 2020, including 11 projects in that year alone. In contrast, the oldest fact-checker, WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, began producing its Reality Check segments almost two decades ago, in 2004. It’s among 12 fact-checkers that have been active for 10 years or more.

Another new initiative launched in April to increase Spanish language fact-checking at the local level in the U.S. — but with the help of two prominent international fact-checking organizations. 

Factchequeado, a partnership between Maldita.es of Spain and Chequeado in Argentina, has built a network of 27 allies, including 19 local news outlets in the U.S. through which they share fact-checks and media literacy content. Currently, the majority of Factchequeado fact-checks are produced at the national level by its own staff. Through its U.S. partnerships, Factchequeado aims to train Hispanic journalists to produce original fact-checks in Spanish at the local level.

The Reporters’ Lab conducted this survey with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which also has helped fund the Lab’s work on automated fact-checking. The Lab intends to follow up its initial assessment of the local fact-checking landscape with a post-election report that will dive into some of the challenges facing journalists trying to do this vital work. Our follow-up report will explore the content of local fact-checkers’ work in 2022, including data on whom they fact-checked and their approaches to rating claims. We will interview local reporters, producers and editors about public and political feedback and their editorial processes and methodologies. We also intend to examine why some local fact-checking initiatives are short-lived election-year efforts while others have carried on consistently for many years.

Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. If you know of a fact-checking project that has been missed, please contact Mark Stencel and Erica Ryan at the Reporters’ Lab.

Joel Luther of the Reporters’ Lab contributed to this report.

Appendix: Local Fact-Checking Projects


Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting (Gigafact) | Phoenix
Fact-checking for Repustar’s Gigafact Project by an independent, nonprofit newsroom in Phoenix funded by individual donors, foundations, fee-for-service revenue and other sources. Repustar is a privately-funded benefit corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

PolitiFact Arizona | Phoenix
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is PolitiFact’s local affiliate in Arizona. PolitiFact previously worked in Arizona with KNXV-TV (ABC15), ABC’s local affiliate in Phoenix, as part of partnership with the station’s owner, Scripps TV Station Group. (KNXV-TV had previously produced its own “Truth Test” segments.) PolitiFact’s national staff maintained the site starting with the 2018 midterm election cycle until the fact-checking organization partnered with ASU in 2022.


PolitiFact California | Sacramento
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters at Capital Public Radio.

Sacramento Bee Fact Check | Sacramento
Fact-checks by Sacramento Bee reporters appear in its Capitol Alert section, especially in election years. Began as an “Ad Watch” feature focused on political advertising.


9News Truth Test | Denver
NBC’s local TV affiliate in Denver has long done political fact-checking, particularly during elections. In addition, the Tegna-owned station also actively contributes to the Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations (https://www.9news.com/verify). 9News relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

CBS4 Reality Check | Denver
Election-year fact-checks from Denver’s local, CBS-owned commercial TV affiliate.

District of Columbia

WUSA9 Verify | Washington
WUSA9 is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Washington-area’s CBS affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.


News4Jax Trust Index | Jacksonville
Fact-checking by the news team at WJXT-TV (News4Jax), an independent commercial TV station in Jacksonville, Florida. News4Jax is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

News 6 Trust Index | Orlando
Fact-checking by the news team at WKMG-TV (News 6), the CBS affiliate in Orlando, Florida. News 6 is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose regional TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg
PolitiFact’s reporting on the state is produced in affiliation with the Tampa Bay Times. The newspaper’s bureau in Washington, D.C., was the fact-checking service’s original home before it was folded into the Poynter Institute — a non-profit media training center in St. Petersburg, Florida, that also owns the Times and its commercial publishing company. From 2010 to 2017, the Miami Herald was also a PolitiFact Florida reporting and distribution partner.


11 Alive Verify | Atlanta
WXIA is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Atlanta-area’s NBC affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.


PolitiFact Illinois | Chicago
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters and researchers from the Better Government Association, a nonprofit watchdog organization founded in 1923 that focuses on investigative journalism. PolitiFact’s previous news partner in the state was Reboot Illinois, a for-profit digital news service.


Gazette Fact Checker | Cedar Rapids
Fact-checks by reporters at The Cedar Rapids Gazette. The newspaper previously worked on its fact-checks in collaboration with KCRG-TV, a local TV station the Gazette owned until 2015.

KCCI’s Get the Facts | Des Moines
Fact-checks of campaign ads during election cycles by reporters at the Des Moines, Iowa, CBS affiliate, a commercial station owned by Hearst Television.

KCRG-TV’s “I9 Fact Checker” | Cedar Rapids
Occasional fact-checks presented by commercial station KCRG-TV’s “I9 Investigation” team. The local ABC affiliate in Cedar Rapids was previously owned by the area’s local newspaper, The Cedar Rapids Gazette. The two news organizations worked together on fact-checks from 2014 to 2018.

PolitiFact Iowa | Iowa City
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters at The Daily Iowan, the independent student newspaper at the University of Iowa. PolitiFact’s previous state partner in Iowa was the Des Moines Register.


Bangor Daily News Ad Watch | Bangor
Fact-checks of campaign ads during election season by staffers at the Bangor daily newspaper.

Portland Press Herald | Portland
Fact-checks of campaign ads during election cycles by staffers at the daily newspaper in Portland, Maine.


Bridge Michigan | Detroit
An ongoing reporting project published mainly in election years by Bridge Magazine, an online journal published by the non-profit Center for Michigan. Originally called The Truth Squad, the project began as a standalone site before it merged with the center and its magazine in 2012. The Bridge’s fact-checkers also have collaborated with public media’s Michigan Radio.

Local 4 Trust Index | Detroit
Fact-checking by the news team at WDIV-TV (Local 4), the NBC affiliate for Detroit, Michigan. Local 4 is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose regional TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

PolitiFact Michigan | Detroit
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters from the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper previously did fact-checking on its own during the 2014 midterm elections.


5 Eyewitness News Truth Test | St. Paul
Election season fact-checking by the local ABC affiliate’s political reporter.

CBS Minnesota Reality Check | Minneapolis
Fact-checking by the news staff at the local CBS affiliate in Minneapolis.


KY3 Fact Finders | Springfield
Fact-checks by an anchor/reporter for the NBC affiliate in Springfield, Missouri. Focuses on rumors and questions from viewers.

News 4 Fact Check | St. Louis
Election season fact-checks by reporters at CBS’s local affiliate in St. Louis.


Reno Gazette-Journal Fact Checker | Reno
Fact-checks by RGJ’s local government reporter and engagement director. The position is supported by donations and grants.

The Nevada Independent (Gigafact) | Las Vegas
Fact-checking for Repustar’s Gigafact Project by a nonprofit news website in Las Vegas funded by corporate donations, memberships, foundation grants and other sources. Repustar is a privately-funded benefit corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

New Mexico

4 Investigates Fact Check | Albuquerque
Occasional fact-checks by the investigative news team at KOB-TV (KOB4), a commercial TV station owned by Hubbard Broadcasting Company that is NBC’s local affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A reporter conducts the fact-checks with the help of a political scientist from the University of New Mexico.

New York

News10NBC Fact Check | Rochester
Fact-checks by an anchor/reporter at the Rochester, New York, NBC affiliate, that focus on rumors and questions from viewers.

PolitiFact New York | Buffalo
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters from the Buffalo News.

North Carolina

CBS 17 Truth Tracker and Digging Deeper | Raleigh-Goldsboro
Fact-checks by a data reporter from the Raleigh-area’s local CBS affiliate — a commercial TV station owned by Nexstar Media Group. Televised versions of the “Digging Deeper” segments are supplemented with source material on the station’s website, with political “Truth Tracker” reports appearing on its election news page.

PolitiFact North Carolina | Raleigh
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters at WRAL-TV, a privately owned commercial station that is NBC’s local affiliate in the Raleigh-Durham area. The News & Observer, a McClatchy-owned newspaper in Raleigh, was PolitiFact’s original local news partner in the state from 2016 to 2019.

The News & Observer’s Fact-Checking Project | Raleigh
Fact-checks by the reporting staff of The News & Observer, the McClatchy owned newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina. It freely distributes its fact-checking to other media in the state. The N&O previously did fact-checking as PolitiFact’s state partner from 2016 to 2019.

WCNC Verify | Charlotte
WCNC is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Charlotte-area’s NBC affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.


The Frontier fact checks | Tulsa
Fact-checking by reporters from this non-profit news site based in Tulsa. The fact-checks appear in the form of thematic roundups posted with the site’s other news stories. The Frontiers’ work is also used by other Oklahoma media. The Frontier Media Group Inc. operates the site with support from foundations, corporate supporters and individual donors.


News 8 “Ad Watch” | Lancaster
Ad Watch segments appear during election campaigns in televised newscasts and on the politics page of this local, commercially supported TV station. Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, WGAL-TV is owned by Hearst Television and is the local NBC affiliate for the Susquehanna Valley region, including the state capital in Harrisburg.


KHOU11 Verify | Houston
KHOU is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Houston-area’s CBS affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

KPRC Trust Index | Houston
Fact-checking by the news team at KPRC-TV, the NBC affiliate for Houston, Texas. KPRC is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose local TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

KSAT Trust Index | San Antonio
Fact-checking by the news team at KSAT-TV, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, Texas. KSAT is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose regional TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

PolitiFact Texas | Austin, Houston, San Antonio
Affiliate of PolitiFact, with contributions from its three newspaper partners in the state, Austin American Statesman, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.

WFAA’s Verify Road Trip | Dallas
WFAA-TV’s contribution to Tegna’s companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project is its “Verify Road Trip” segments. For these stories, the Dallas-area ABC affiliate enlists viewers to be “guest reporters” who join the news team to find answers to their questions. The station relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers. Verify Road Trip also has a YouTube page.


PolitiFact Virginia | Richmond
Staffed by reporters from the news team at WCVE-FM in the Richmond/Petersburg area, where the station is part of a cluster of regional public broadcasters. WCVE revived PolitiFact’s presence in the commonwealth after a nearly two-year hiatus. (PolitiFact’s original local news partner, the Richmond Times Dispatch, operated the Virginia site from 2010 to 2016.)

West Virginia

PolitiFact West Virginia | Morgantown
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by student reporters at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media.


News 3 Reality Check | Madison
Video fact-checking segments by News 3 team on Wisconsin politics and TV ads, especially during election season.

PolitiFact Wisconsin | Milwaukee
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin Watch (Gigafact) | Madison
Fact-checking for Repustar’s Gigafact Project by a nonprofit news outlet in Wisconsin funded by grants from foundations, individual and corporate donations and other sources. Repustar is a privately-funded benefit corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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fact-checking meters

Fact-checkers extend their global reach with 391 outlets, but growth has slowed

Efforts to intercept misinformation are expanding in more than 100 countries, but the pace of new fact-checking projects continues to slow.

By Mark Stencel & Erica Ryan – June 17, 2022 | Print this article

The number of fact-checkers around the world doubled over the past six years, with nearly 400 teams of journalists and researchers taking on political lies, hoaxes and other forms of misinformation in 105 countries.

The Duke Reporters’ Lab annual fact-checking census counted 391 fact-checking projects that were active in 2021. Of those, 378 are operating now.

That’s up from a revised count of 186 active sites in 2016 – the year when the Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential election elevated global concerns about the spread of inaccurate information and rumors, especially in digital media. Misleading posts about ethnic conflicts, wars, the climate and the pandemic only amplified those worries in the years since.

Since last year’s census, we have added 51 sites to our global fact-checking map and database. In that same 12 months, another seven fact-checkers closed down.

While this vital journalism now appears in at least 69 languages on six continents, the pace of growth in the international fact-checking community has slowed over the past several years.

The largest growth was in 2019, when 77 new fact-checking sites and organizations made their debut. Based on our updated counts since then, the number was 58 in 2020 and 22 last year. 

New Fact Checkers by Year

New Fact Checkers by Year
Duke Reporters’ Lab

(Note: The adjusted number of 2021 launches may increase over time as the Reporters’ Lab identifies other fact-checkers we have not yet discovered.)

These numbers may be a worrisome trend, or they could mean that the growth of the past several years has saturated the market – or paused in the wake of the global pandemic. But we also expect our numbers for last year to eventually increase as we continue to identify other fact-checkers, as happens every year.

More than a third of the growth since 2019’s bumper crop came from existing fact-checking operations that added new outlets to expand their reach to new places and different audiences. That includes Agence France-Presse, the French international news service, which launched at least 17 new sites in that period. In Africa, Dubawa and PesaCheck opened nine new bureaus, while Asia’s Boom and Fact Crescendo opened five. In addition, Delfi and Pagella Politica in Europe and PolitiFact in North America each launched a new satellite, too.

Fact-checking has expanded quickly over the years in Latin America, but less so of late. Since 2019 we saw three launches in South America (one of which has folded) plus one more focused on Cuba. 

Active Fact-Checkers by Year

Active Fact-Checkers by Year
Duke Reporters’ Lab

The Reporters’ Lab is monitoring another trend: fact-checkers’ use of rating systems. These ratings are designed to succinctly summarize a fact-checker’s conclusions about political statements and other forms of potential misinformation. When we analyzed the use of these features in past reports, we found that about 80-90% of the fact-checkers we looked at relied on these meters and standardized labels to prominently convey their findings.

But that approach appears to be less common among newer fact-checkers. Our initial review of the fact-checkers that launched in 2020 found that less than half seemed to be using rating systems. And among the Class of 2021, only a third seemed to rely on predefined ratings. 

We also have seen established fact-checkers change their approach in handling ratings.

fact-checking meters
Examples of fact-checking meters from Público’s Prova dos Factos in Portugal, the Fact Investigation Platform’s Factometer in Armenia, OhmyFact from South Korea’s OhmyNews, and Nepal Fact Check from the Center for Media Research-Nepal.

The Norwegian fact-checking site Faktisk, for instance, launched in 2017 with a five-point, color-coded rating system that was similar to ones used by most of the fact-checkers we monitor: “helt sant” (for “absolutely true” in green) to “helt feil” (“completely false” in red). But during a recent redesign, Faktisk phased out its ratings. 

“The decision to move away from the traditional scale was hard and subject to a very long discussion and consideration within the team,” said editor-in-chief Kristoffer Egeberg in an email. “Many felt that a rigid system where conclusions had to ‘fit the glove’ became kind of a straitjacket, causing us to either drop claims that weren’t precise enough or too complex to fit into one fixed conclusion, or to instead of doing the fact-check – simply write a fact-story instead, where a rating was not needed.”

Egeberg also noted that sometimes “the color of the ratings became the main focus rather than the claim and conclusion itself, derailing the important discussion about the facts.”

We plan to examine this trend in the future and expect this discussion may emerge during the conversations at the annual Global Fact summit in Oslo, Norway, next week. 

The Duke Reporters’ Lab began keeping track of the international fact-checking community in 2014, when it organized a group of about 50 people who gathered in London for what became the first Global Fact meeting. This year about 10-times that many people – 500 journalists, technologists, truth advocates and academics – are expected to attend the ninth summit. The conferences are now organized by the International Fact-Checking Network, based at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. This will be the group’s first large in-person meeting in three years.

Fact-Checkers by Continent

Fact-Checkers by Continent
Duke Reporters’ Lab

Like their audiences, the fact-checkers are a multilingual community, and many of these sites publish their findings in multiple languages, either on the same site or in some cases alternate sites. English is the most common, used on at least 166 sites, followed by Spanish (55), French (36), Arabic (14), Portuguese (13), Korean (13), German (12) and Hindi (11).

Nearly two-third of the fact-checkers are affiliated with media organizations (226 out of 378, or about 60%). But there are other affiliations and business models too, including 24 with academic ties and 45 that are part of a larger nonprofit or non-governmental organization. Some of these fact-checkers have overlapping arrangements with multiple organizations. More than a fifth of the community (86 out of 378) operate independently.

About the census: 

Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. That’s why the updated numbers for earlier years in this report are higher than the counts the Lab included in earlier reports. If you have questions, updates or additions, please contact Mark Stencel, Erica Ryan or Joel Luther.

Related links: Previous fact-checking census reports

April 2014

January 2015

February 2016

February 2017

February 2018

June 2019

June 2020

June 2021

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President Adama Barrow

From Sofia to Springfield, fact-checking extends its reach

Reporters' Lab prepares for its annual fact-checking survey in advance of the Global Fact summit in Oslo

By Erica Ryan – April 19, 2022 | Print this article

Fact-checkers in the Gambia and Bulgaria are among the new additions to the Duke Reporters’ Lab database of fact-checking sites around the world. The total now stands at 356, with more updates to come.

President Adama Barrow
FactCheck Gambia covered President Adama Barrow before and after his 2021 reelection.

FactCheck Gambia and Factcheck.bg both got their start in 2021. Fact-checkers at the Gambian site checked claims in the run-up to the country’s presidential elections in December, and they have continued to examine President Adama Barrow’s inaugural speech as well as other statements from officials and social media claims.

In Bulgaria, the initiative begun by the nonprofit Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria has checked claims ranging from a purported ban on microwaves to concerns about coronavirus vaccines, and it has received increased interest for its work during the war in Ukraine.

Other additions to the database include a couple of TV news features in the United States: the News10NBC Fact Check from WHEC-TV in Rochester, New York, and the KY3 Fact Finders at KYTV-TV in Springfield, Missouri. Both projects focus on rumors and questions from local television viewers.

This is crunch time for the Reporters’ Lab. We’re busily updating our database for the Lab’s annual fact-checking census. We plan to publish this yearly overview in June, shortly before the International Fact-Checking Network convenes its annual Global Fact summit in Oslo.

About the census: Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. If you have questions, updates or additions, please contact Lab co-director Mark Stencel (mark.stencel@duke.edu) and project manager Erica Ryan (elryan@gmail.com).

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Ecuador Verifica

Fact-checking census shows slower growth

The number of new projects dipped, even as fact-checking reached more countries than ever

By Mark Stencel & Joel Luther – June 2, 2021 | Print this article

Fact-checkers are now found in at least 102 countries – more than half the nations in the world. 

The latest census by the Duke Reporters’ Lab identified 341 active fact-checking projects, up 51 from last June’s report.

But after years of steady and sometimes rapid growth, there are signs that trend is slowing, even though misleading content and political lies have played a growing role in contentious elections and the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Our tally revealed a slowdown in the number of new fact-checkers, especially when we looked at the upward trajectory of projects since the Lab began its yearly survey and global fact-checking map seven years ago. 

The number of fact-checking projects that launched since the most recent Reporters’ Lab census was more than three times fewer than the number that started in the 12 months before that, based on our adjusted tally. 

From July 2019 to June 2020, there were 61 new fact-checkers. In the year since then, there were 19.

Meanwhile, 21 fact-checkers shut down in that same two-year period beginning in June 2019. And 54 additions to the Duke database in that same period were fact-checkers that were already up and running prior to the 2019 census.

Looking at the count by calendar year also underscored the slowdown in the time of COVID. 

The Reporters’ Lab counted 36 fact-checking projects that launched in 2020. That was below the annual average of 53 for the preceding six calendar years – and less than half the number of startups that began fact-checking in 2019. The 2020 launches were also the lowest number of new fact-checkers we’ve counted since 2014. 

New Fact Checkers by Year

New Fact Checkers by Year
Duke Reporters’ Lab

(Note: The adjusted number of 2020 launches may increase slightly over time as the Reporters’ Lab identifies other fact-checkers we have not yet discovered.)

The slowdown comes after a period of rapid expansion that began in 2016. That was the year when the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the presidential race in the United States raised public alarm about the impact of misinformation.

In response, major tech companies such as Facebook and Google elevated fact-checks on their platforms and provided grants, direct funding and other incentives for new and existing fact-checking organizations. (Disclosure: Google and Facebook fund some of the Duke lab’s research on technologies for fact-checkers. )

The 2018-2020 numbers presented below are adjusted from earlier census reports to include fact-checkers that were subsequently added to our database. 

Active Fact-Checkers by Year

2021 Fact-Checking Census
Duke Reporters’ Lab

Note: 2021 YTD includes one fact-checker that closed in 2021. 

Growth has been steady on almost every continent except in North America. In the United States, where fact-checking first took off in the early 2010s, there are 61 active fact-checkers now. That’s down slightly from the 2020 election year, when there were 66. But the U.S. is still home to more fact-checking projects than any other country. Of the current U.S. fact-checkers, more than half (35 of 61) focus on state and local politics. 

Fact-Checkers by Continent

Fact-Checkers by Continent
Duke Reporters’ Lab

Among other details we found in this year’s census:

  • More countries, more staying power: Based on our adjusted count, fact-checkers were active in at least 47 countries in 2014. That more than doubled to 102 now. And most of the fact-checkers that started in 2014 or earlier (71 out of 122) are still active today.


  • Fact-checking is more multilingual: The active fact-checkers produce reports in nearly 70 languages, from Albanian to Urdu. English is the most common, used on 146 different sites, followed by Spanish (53), French (33), Arabic (14), Portuguese (12), Korean (11) and German (10). Fact-checkers in multilingual countries often present their work in more than one language – either in translation on the same site, or on different sites tailored for specific language communities, including original reporting for those audiences.


  • More than media: Half of the current fact-checkers (195 of 341) are affiliated with media organizations, including national news publishers and broadcasters, local news sources and digital-only outlets. But there are other models, too. At least 37 are affiliated with non-profit groups, think tanks and nongovernmental organizations and 26 are affiliated academic institutions. Some of the fact-checkers involve cross-organization partnerships and have multiple affiliations. But to be listed in our database, the fact-checking must be organized and produced in a journalistic fashion.


  • Turnover: In addition to the 341 current fact-checkers, the Reporters’ Lab database and map also include 112 inactive projects. From 2014 to 2020, an average of 15 fact-checking projects a year close down. Limited funding and expiring grants are among  the most common reasons fact-checkers shuttered their sites. But there also are short-run, election year projects and partnerships that intentionally close down once the voting is over. Of all the inactive projects, 38 produced fact-checks for a year or less. The average lifespan of an inactive fact-checker is two years and three months. The active fact-checkers have been in business twice as long – an average of more than four and a half years.

The Reporters’ Lab process for selecting fact-checkers for its database is similar to the standards used by the International Fact Checking Network – a project based at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. IFCN currently involves 109 organizations that each agree to a code of principles. The Lab’s database includes all the IFCN signatories, but it also counts any related outlets – such as the state-level news partners of PolitiFact in the United States, the wide network of multilingual fact-checking sites that France’s AFP has built across its global bureau system, and the fact-checking teams Africa Check and PesaCheck have mobilized in countries across Africa. 

Reporters’ Lab project manager Erica Ryan and student researchers Amelia Goldstein and Leah Boyd contributed to this year’s report.

About the census: Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. That’s why the updated numbers for earlier years in this report are higher than the counts the Lab included in earlier reports. If you have questions, updates or additions, please contact Mark Stencel or Joel Luther.

Ecuador Verifica
Image at top: The fact-checking collaborative Ecuador Verifica (ecuadorverifica.org) launched in January with a traffic-light metaphor to rate claims. The site was one of the 19 new fact-checking projects the Reporters’ Lab added to its database in the past year.

Related Links: Previous fact-checking census reports

April 2014

January 2015

February 2016

February 2017

February 2018

June 2019

June 2020

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Fact-checking count tops 300 for the first time

The Reporters' Lab finds fact-checkers at work in 84 countries -- but growth in the U.S. has slowed

By Mark Stencel & Joel Luther – October 13, 2020 | Print this article

The number of active fact-checkers around the world has topped 300 — about 100 more than the Duke Reporters’ Lab counted this time a year ago

Some of that growth is due to the 2020 election in the United States, where the Lab’s global database and map now finds 58 fact-checking projects. That’s more than twice as many as any other country, and nearly a fifth of the current worldwide total: 304 in 84 countries. 

But the U.S. is not driving the worldwide increase.

The last U.S. presidential election sounded an alert about the effects of misinformation, especially on social media. But those concerns weren’t just “made in America.” From the 2016 Brexit vote in the U.K. to this year’s coronavirus pandemic, events around the globe have led to new fact-checking projects that call out rumors, debunk hoaxes and help the public identify falsehoods. 

The current fact-checking tally is up 14 from the 290 the Lab reported in its annual fact-checking census in June.

Over the past four years, growth in the U.S. has been sluggish — at least compared with other parts of the world, where Facebook, WhatsApp and Google have provided grants and incentives to enlist fact-checkers help in thwarting misinformation on their platforms. (Disclosure: Facebook and Google also provided support for research at the Reporters’ Lab.)

By looking back at the dates when each fact-checker began publishing, we now see there were about 145 projects in 59 countries that were active at some point in 2016. Of that 145, about a third were based in the United States.

The global total more than doubled from 2016 to now. And the number outside the U.S. increased two and half times — from 97 to 246.

During that same four years, there were relatively big increases elsewhere. Several countries in Asia saw big growth spurts — including Indonesia (which went from 3 fact-checkers to 9), South Korea (3 to 11) and India (3 to 21).

In comparison, the U.S. count in that period is up from 48 to 58.

The comparison is also striking when counting the fact-checkers by continent. The number in South America doubled while the counts for Africa and Asia more than tripled. The North American count was up too — by a third. But the non-U.S. increase in North America was more in line with the pace elsewhere, nearly tripling from 5 to 14. 

Fact-checkers 2016-20
Source: Duke Reporters’ Lab

These global tallies leave out 19 other fact-checkers that launched since 2016 that are no longer active. Among those 19 were short-lived, election-focused initiatives, sometimes involving multiple news partners, in France, Norway, Mexico, Sweden, Nigeria, Philippines, Argentina and the European Union.

Several factors seem to account for the slower growth in the U.S. For instance, many of the country’s big news media outlets have already done fact-checking for years, especially during national elections. So there is less room for fact-checking to grow at that level. 

USA Today was among the only major media newcomers to the national fact-checking scene in the U.S. since 2016. The others were more niche, including The Daily Caller’s Check Your Fact, the Poynter Institute’s MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network and The Dispatch. In addition, the French news service AFP started a U.S.-based effort as part of its efforts to establish fact-checking teams in many of its dozens of international bureaus. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also launched a fact-checking service called “Based on Science” — one of a number of science- and health-focused fact-checking projects around the world.

Of the 58 U.S. fact-checkers, 36 are focused on state and local politics, especially during regional elections. While some of these local media outlets have been at it for years, including some of PolitiFact’s longstanding state-level news partners, others work on their own, such as WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, which began its News 3 Reality Check segments in 2004. There also are one-off election projects that come to an end as soon as the voting is over.

A wildcard in our Lab’s current U.S. count are efforts to increase local fact-checking across large national news chains. One such newcomer since the 2016 election is Tegna, a locally focused TV company with more than 50 stations across the country. It encourages its stations’ news teams to produce fact-checking reports as part of the company’s “Verify” initiative — though some stations do more regular fact-checking than others. Tegna also has a national fact-checking team that produces segments for use by its local stations. A few other media chains are mounting similar efforts, including some of the local stations owned by Nexstar Inc. and more than 260 newspapers and websites operated by USA Today’s owner, Gannett. Those are promising signs. 

There’s still plenty of room for more local fact-checking in the U.S. At least 20 states have one or more regionally focused fact-checking projects already. The Reporters’ Lab is keeping a watchful eye out for new ventures in the other 30. 

Note about our methodology: Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects and new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. That’s why the updated numbers for 2016 used in this article are higher than the counts the Lab reported annual fact-checking census from February 2017. If you have questions or updates, please contact Mark Stencel or Joel Luther.

Related Links: Previous fact-checking census reports

April 2014

January 2015

February 2016

February 2017

February 2018 

June 2019

June 2020

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Annual census finds nearly 300 fact-checking projects around the world

Growth is fueled by politics, protests and pandemic

By Mark Stencel & Joel Luther – June 22, 2020 | Print this article

With elections, unrest and a global pandemic generating a seemingly endless supply of falsehoods, the Duke Reporters’ Lab finds at least 290 fact-checking projects are busy debunking those threats in 83 countries.

That count is up from 188 active projects in more than 60 countries a year ago, when the Reporters’ Lab issued the annual census at the Global Fact Summit in South Africa. There has been so much growth that the number of active fact-checkers added in the past year alone more than doubles the total number when the Lab began to keep track in 2014.

There has been plenty of news to keep those fact-checkers busy, including widespread protests in countries such as Chile and the United States. Events like these attract a broad range of new fact-checkers — some from well-established media companies, as well as industrious startups, good-government groups and journalism schools. 

Our global database and map shows considerable growth in Asia, particularly India, where the Lab currently counts at least 20 fact-checkers at the moment. We also saw a spike in Chile that started with the nationwide unrest there last fall.

Fact-Checkers by Continent Since June 2019

Africa: 9 to 19
Asia: 35 to 75
Australia: 5 to 4
Europe: 61 to 85
North America: 60 to 69
South America: 18 to 38

But the coronavirus pandemic has been the story that has topped almost every fact-checking page in every country since February.

"creíble, pero..."
From protests to pandemic: Chile’s Factchecking.cl’s has given its mascot a mask.

At least five fact-checkers on the Lab’s map already focused on public health and medical claims. One of the newest is The Healthy Indian Project, which launched last year. But the pandemic has turned almost every fact-checking operation into a team of health reporters. And the International Fact-Checking Network also has coordinated coverage through its #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance.

The pandemic has also turned IFCN’s 2020 Global Fact meeting into a virtual conference this week, instead of the in-person gathering originally planned in Oslo, Norway. And one of the themes participants will be talking about are the institutional factors that have generated more interest and attention for fact-checkers. 

To combat increasing online misinformation, major digital platforms in the United States, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Google and YouTube, have provided incentives to fact-checkers, including direct contributions, competitive grants and help with technological infrastructure to increase the distribution of their work. (Disclosure: Facebook and Google separately help fund research and development projects at the Reporters’ Lab, and the Lab’s co-directors have served as judges for some grants.)

Many of these funding opportunities were specifically for signatories of the IFCN’s Code of Principles, a charter that requires independent accessors to regularly review the editorial and ethical practices of each fact-checker that wants its status verified. 

A growing number of fact-checkers are also part of national and regional partnerships. These short-term collaborations can evolve into longer-term partnerships, as we’ve seen with Brazil’s Comprova, Colombia’s RedCheq and Bolivia Verifica. They also can inspire participating organizations to continue fact-checking on their own. 

Over time, the Reporters’ Lab has tried to monitor these contributors and note when they have developed into fact-checkers that should be listed in their own right. That’s why our database shows considerable growth in South Korea — home to the long-standing SNU FactCheck partnership based at Seoul National University’s Institute of Communications Research.

As has been the case with each year’s census, some of the growth also comes from established fact-checkers that came to the attention of the Reporters’ Lab after last June’s census was published — offset by at least nine projects that closed down in the months that followed.

But the overall trend was still strong. Overall, 68 of the projects in the database launched since the start of 2019. And more than half of them (40 of the 68) opened for business after the 2019 census, including 11 so far in the first half of 2020. And most of them appear to have staying power. Of those 68, only four are no longer operating. And three of those were election-related collaborations that launched as intentionally short-term projects.

We also have tried to be more thorough about discerning among specific projects and outlets that are produced or distributed by different teams within the same or related organizations. The variety of strong fact-checking programs and web pages produced by variously affiliated French public broadcasters is a good example. (Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database.)

The increasing tally of fact-checkers, which continues a trend that started in 2014, is remarkable. While this is a challenging time for journalism in just about every country, public alarm about the effects of misinformation is driving demand for credible reporting and research — the work a growing list of fact-checkers are busy doing around the world.

The Reporters’ Lab is grateful for the contributions of student researchers Amelia Goldstein and Matthew Griffin; journalist and media/fact-checking trainer Shady Gebril; fact-checkers Enrique Núñez-Mussa of FactCheckingCL and EunRyung Chong of SNU FactCheck; and the staff of the International Fact-Checking Network. The Reporters’ Lab updates its fact-checking database throughout the year. If you have updates or information, please contact Mark Stencel and Joel Luther.

Related Links: Previous fact-checking census reports

April 2014

January 2015

February 2016

February 2017

February 2018 

June 2019

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Fact-checking keeps on growing.

Update: 237 fact-checkers in nearly 80 countries … and counting

So far the Reporters' Lab list is up 26% over last's year annual tally.

By Mark Stencel & Joel Luther – April 3, 2020 | Print this article

Fact-checking has expanded to 78 countries, where the Duke Reporters’ Lab counts at least 237 organizations that actively verify the statements of public figures, track political promises and combat misinformation.

So far, that’s a 26% increase in the 10 months since the Reporters’ Lab published its 2019 fact-checking census. That was on eve of last summer’s annual Global Fact summit in South Africa, when our international database and map included 188 active fact-checkers in more than 60 countries.

We know that’s an undercount because we’re still counting. But here’s where we stand by continent:

Africa: 17
Asia: 53
Australia: 4
Europe: 68
North America: 69
South America: 26

About 20 fact-checkers listed in the database launched since last summer’s census. One of the newest launched just last week: FACTA, a spinoff of longtime Italian fact-checker Pagella Politica that will focus broadly on online hoaxes and disinformation.

The Lab’s next annual census will be published this summer, when the International Fact Checking Network hosts an online version of Global Fact. On Wednesday, the network postponed the in-person summit in Norway, scheduled for June, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Several factors are driving the growth of fact-checking. 

One is the increasing spread of misinformation on large digital media platforms, some of which are turning to fact-checkers for help — directly and indirectly. That includes a Facebook partnership that enlists participating “third-party” fact-checkers to help respond to some categories of misleading information flagged by its users. Another example is ClaimReview, an open-source tagging system the Reporters’ Lab helped develop that makes it easier for Google and other platforms to spotlight relevant fact-checks and contradict falsehoods. The Reporters’ Lab is developing a related new tagging-system, MediaReview, that will help flag manufactured and misleading use of images, including video and photos. (Disclosure: Facebook and Google are among the funders of the Lab, which develops and deploys technology to help fact-checkers. The Lab collaborated with Schema.org and Google to establish the ClaimReview framework and encourage its adoption.)

Another factor in the growth of fact-checking is the increasing role of collaboration. That includes fact-checking partnerships that involve competing news outlets and media groups that have banded together to share fact-checks or jointly cover political claims, especially during elections. It also includes growing collaboration within large media companies. Examples of those internal partnerships range from Agence France-Presse, the French news service that has established regional fact-checking sites with dedicated reporters in dozens of its bureaus around the world, to U.S.-based TEGNA, whose local TV stations produce and share “Verify” fact-checking segments across more than four dozen outlets.

Sharing content and processes is a positive thing — though it means it’s more difficult for our Lab to keep count. These multi-outlet fact-checking collaborations make it complicated for us to determine who exactly produces what, or to keep track of the individual outlets where readers, viewers and listeners can find this work. We’ll be clarifying our selection process to address that.

We’ll have more to say about the trends and trajectory of fact-checking in our annual census when the Global Fact summit convenes online. Working with a student researcher, Reporters’ Lab director Bill Adair first began tallying fact-checking projects for the first Global Fact summit in 2014. That gathering of about 50 people in London ultimately led a year later to the formation of the International Fact Checking Network, which is based at the Poynter Institute, a media studies and training center in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The IFCN summit itself has become a measure of fact-checkng’s growth. Before IFCN decided to turn this year’s in-person conference into an online event, more than 400 people had confirmed their participation. That would have been about eight times larger than the original London meeting in 2014.

IFCN director Baybars Örsek told fact-checkers Wednesday that the virtual summit will be scheduled in the coming weeks. Watch for our annual fact-checking census then.

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Fact-checking Database

U.S. fact-checkers gear up for 2020 campaign

Of the 226 fact-checking projects in the latest Reporters’ Lab global count, 50 are in the U.S. -- and most are locally focused.

By Mark Stencel & Joel Luther – November 25, 2019 | Print this article

With the U.S. election now less than a year away, at least four-dozen American fact-checking projects plan to keep tabs on claims by candidates and their supporters – and a majority of those fact-checkers won’t be focused on the presidential campaign.

The 50 active U.S. fact-checking projects are included in the latest Reporters’ Lab tally of global fact-checking, which now shows 226 sites in 73 countries. More details about the global growth below.

Of the 50 U.S. projects, about a third (16) are nationally focused. That includes independent fact-checkers such as FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and Snopes, as well as major news media efforts, including the Associated Press, The Washington Post, CNN and The New York Times. There also are a handful of fact-checkers that are less politically focused. They concentrate on global misinformation or specific topic areas, from science to gossip.

At least 31 others are state and locally minded fact-checkers spread across 20 states. Of that 31, 11 are PolitiFact’s state-level media partners. A new addition to that group is WRAL-TV in North Carolina — a commercial TV station that took over the PolitiFact franchise in its state from The News & Observer, a McClatchy-owned newspaper based in Raleigh. Beyond North Carolina, PolitiFact has active local affiliates in California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The News & Observer has not abandoned fact-checking. It launched a new statewide initiative of its own — this time without PolitiFact’s trademarked Truth-O-Meter or a similar rating system for the statements it checks. “We’ll provide a highly informed assessment about the relative truth of the claims, rather than a static rating or ranking,” The N&O’s editors said in an article announcing its new project.

Among the 20 U.S. state and local fact-checkers that are not PolitiFact partners, at least 13 use some kind of rating system.

Of all the state and local fact-checkers, 11 are affiliated with TV stations — like WRAL, which had its own fact-checking service before it joined forces with PolitiFact this month. Another 11 are affiliated with newspapers or magazines. Five are local digital media startups and two are public radio stations. There are also a handful of projects based in academic journalism programs. 

One example of a local digital startup is Mississippi Today, a non-profit state news service that launched a fact-checking page for last year’s election. It is among the projects we have added to our database over the past month.

We should note that some of these fact-checkers hibernate between election cycles. These seasonal fact-checkers that have long track records over multiple election cycles remain active in our database. Some have done this kind of reporting for years. For instance, WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, has been fact-checking since 2004 — three years before PolitiFact, The Washington Post and AP got into the business.

One of the hardest fact-checking efforts for us to quantify is run by corporate media giant TEGNA Inc. which operates nearly 50 stations across the country. Its “Verify” segments began as a pilot project at WFAA-TV in the Dallas area in 2016. Now each station produces its own versions for its local TV and online audience. The topics are usually suggested by viewers, with local reporters often fact-checking political statements or debunking local hoaxes and rumors. 

A reporter at WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina, also produces national segments that are distributed for use by any of the company’s other stations. We’ve added TEGNA’s “Verify” to our database as a single entry, but we may also add individual stations as we determine which ones do the kind of fact-checking we are trying to count. (Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include.)

A Global Movement

As for the global picture, the Reporters’ Lab is now up to 226 active fact-checking projects around the world — up from 210 in October, when our count went over 200 for the first time. That is more than five times the number we first counted in 2014. It’s also more than double a retroactive count for that same year –- a number that was based on the actual start dates of all the fact-checking projects we’ve added to the database over the past five years (see footnote to our most recent annual census for details).

The growth of Agence France-Presse’s work as part of Facebook’s third-party-fact checking partnership is a big factor. After adding a slew of AFP bureaus with dedicated fact-checkers to our database last month, we added many more — including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Lebanon, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Uruguay. We now count 22 individual AFP bureaus, all started since 2018.

Other recent additions to the database involved several established fact-checkers, including PesaCheck, which launched in Kenya in 2016. Since then it’s added bureaus in Tanzania in 2017 and Uganda in 2018 — both of which are now in our database. We added Da Begad, a volunteer effort based in Egypt that has focused on social media hoaxes and misinformation since 2013. And there’s a relative newcomer too: Re:Check, a Latvian project that’s affiliated with a non-profit investigative center called Re:Baltica. It launched over the summer. 

Peru’s OjoBiónico is back on our active list. It resumed fact-checking last year after a two-year hiatus. OjoBiónico is a section of OjoPúblico, a digital news service that focuses on an investigative reporting service.

We already have other fact-checkers we plan to add to our database over the coming weeks. If there’s a fact-checker you know about that we need to update or add to our map, please contact Joel Luther at the Reporters’ Lab.

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