Methodology

Fact Investigation Platform (FIP)

Methodology

Fact investigation platform (FIP) is a separate team of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO (UIC), that acts as an independent media outlet specialized in fact-checking journalism. FIP has a full structural and editorial independence, as well as a Code of conduct for FIP journalists․

Organizational structure

Editor-in-chief is responsible for defining the editorial policy, approving topics, approving articles, reviewing materials, re-checking the facts contained in them, and is accountable to no one.

Editor- proofreader is responsible for proofreading the articles, replacing the editor-in-chief when necessary and is accountable to the editor in chief.

Journalists are responsible for following the news, finding topics, researching them, in cooperation with the editor-in-chief, launching the work on the topics, checking the facts, submitting articles, and are accountable to the editor-in-chief.

Video team is composed of two people, that is the Camera man and the Video editor and are accountable to the editor-in-chief.

SMM specialist is responsible for distributing content via multiple digital platforms, collecting responses, helping FIP to reach a wider audience, and is accountable to the editor in chief.

The Translation team consists of two people, that is the English translator and the Russian translator.

The special relations between the FIP and Monitoring teams

Alongside with the FIP team UIC has a team of Media monitoring that constantly monitors the Armenian media, identifies patterns of misinformation and sends the materials that can potentially be fact-checked to the FIP team. They also have a database of media digests to which the FIP has full access.

Our funding

UIC publicly lists sources of funding for each project, including the projects that fund FIP, on its web-page: https://uic.am/en/projects and donors: https://uic.am/en/our-partners . FIP places the badges of the project donor organizations on the bottom on the main page of the website.

The Code of conduct for FIP journalists (Fact-checking commandments)

Check the authenticity of all the cited evidence and assertions, do not manipulate, do not distort the speech

Using direct speech is a MUST. Quote particularly the part that will be checked․

Editing direct speech is PROHIBITED… Use special rules in case of making reductions․

Be sure to include context … What is the topic, discussion, question within the framework of which the given statement, assertion was made․

Be sure to include background information… Additional information about the circumstances that preceded the statement․

Be sure to write all the abbreviations in full in the text when using them for the first time; indicate the abbreviation in parentheses․

Mention the positions of all persons (even Pashinyan, Ararat Mirzoyan and etc.)

In case of long videos, be sure to write the exact time and attach it to the text․

Do not use “RA” before the names of state authorities and officials․

Be sure to substantiate each statement with links. References must be from the original source (violate this rule only in extreme cases) ։

Simplify laws, legal and economic texts as much as possible and write in understandable language (we do not write for economists or lawyers)․

As you write on each topic, do a Google search for other information on the topic․

Read the full text of the documents before referring to them with a link․

DO NOT WRITE OPINIONS; NO ATTITUDE SHOULD BE SHOWN. DRY FACTS ONLY․

Policy of non-partisanship for FIP journalists

FIP.am team members are obliged to leave their political preferences behind and maintain absolute nonpartisanship during fact-checking. They shall not work or otherwise be financed by any political party or a representative of a political party.

The organization ensures this criterion by signing a non-partisanship agreement with all the newly hired team members.

Selection of claims policy

As a part of their working routine the FIP journalists regularly monitor the Armenian broadcasters, online, print and social media as well as media outlets created by the political parties and/or the Russian government or having ties with Russia (e.g. Sputnik-Armenia, Kommersant, Regnum, Ria Novosti). They identify virally disseminated content through Facebook’s advanced search tools. Moreover, the audience of Fact Investigation Platform is very active and can send allegedly fake material through a special webpage section and the Facebook page. FIP editorial team fact-checks and rates only verifiable claims and is focused on virally disseminated and harmful content and discrediting campaigns conducted in coordinated manner.

Parallel to the FIP team, the Monitoring team of the UIC is constantly monitoring the Armenian media and keeps a database of the monitoring result to which the FIP team has full access.

Every day, the responsibility of the editor of FIP is to have a briefing with the team and select materials from the monitoring database and or their own database, which may be fake or manipulative. In selecting such information from media monitoring materials and those sent by audience, the editorial staff of Fact Investigation Platform uses the following criteria:

How verifiable is the information reported by media/statements made by a source? Is it a fact or an opinion, forecast, hypothesis?

Does it involve the manipulation of facts? Does it look like half-truth and cherry-picking of facts?

How significant is an error?

How widespread is an error?

How reliable is a source?

Has a similar misinformation been spread before and could the information be part of coordinated and targeted campaigns?

How newsworthy is the story?

Verification and confirmation of facts

FIP verifies facts through open sources, sometimes it contacts the Armenian government and/or public agencies for information request.

The very first step is to determine whether a news story is unbalanced and which source is missing in it. Then, a reliable independent source is sought to check the information. Search is undertaken to find out whether a similar information was published in any other reliable media outlet.

In verifying information, Fact Investigation Platform follows FIP’s media and information literacy guidelines:

Fake news

Photo manipulation

Video manipulation

Verification of a person

Verification of web-pages

Geolocation

Falsification of history

Data manipulation on economy

Big data analyzation and electronic data of public institutions

Evaluation and publication (factometer rating system)

Based on fact checking results, FIP’s fact finders evaluate types of error: within a rating system of the Fact Investigation Platform, which is pretty standard: Completely true, Partly true, Without Verdict, Partly false or Completely false, Fake, Manipulative

In some cases, fact checkers evaluate propaganda methods used in a controversial material.

In preparing each article, FIP strives to provide all the sources and tools through which it has verified the allegations and facts so that our reader, going through all the references and sources, can go through the same path and verify that the article and the data we have mentioned are consistent. to reality.

Follow up and search for information about a source

When a source regularly spreads fake news or a media outlet is established without its real ownership information, a fact checker seeks additional data about the source. In the case of a media outlet, such additional data includes information about owners and funding, which is available from open sources and are verified based on the registry of the Ministry of Justice of Armenia.

In preparing an article, fact-finders follow a style guide for writing a fact-checking piece. An article is published after it has been double-checked by the editor and the proof-reader.

Corrections and Complaints policy

Everyone is free to apply to the Fact Investigation Platform if information checked by us is, in an applicant’s view, inaccurate and to offer corresponding counter arguments. To this end, an applicant must write to us ([email protected]), reach out via Facebook page or fill in a complaint form.

Ethical journalism is at the heart of honesty and trust with the readers of the Fact Investigation Platform. We strive to adhere to reliability and quality journalism at all times. Our team tries to provide only fact-checked and verified information to its readers, but it is impossible to avoid errors. After finding out that there was indeed a wrong statement or data in the article, our team reacts as soon as possible, preventing the spread of the inaccurate article. In the same article, we add a headline in the visible part of the text with the words “Correction”, “Updated”, “Addition”, thereby informing the reader about the inaccurate information. The headline of the article is also updated with a mention of a change in the article. If the article was shared on FIP social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, Instagram), it is shared once again, mentioning in the caption about the correction of the existing error. Often a notice in the text alone is not enough, and if the correction of the error leads to a new verdict, we keep the wrong article with a relevant commentary, and write a separate article introducing the facts on the topic. It is crucial for the Fact Investigation Platform  that its reader receives only verified information, which is free from manipulation.

FIP.am is guided by the fact-checkers code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network, the most authoritative structure in the field of fact-checking.

  1.  A COMMITMENT TO NONPARTISANSHIP AND FAIRNESS

We fact-check claims using the same standard for every fact check. We do not concentrate our fact-checking on any one side. We follow the same process for every fact check and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not advocate or take policy positions on the issues we fact-check.

  1. A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF SOURCES

We want our readers to be able to verify our findings themselves. We provide all sources in enough detail that readers can replicate our work, except in cases where a source’s personal security could be compromised. In such cases, we provide as much detail as possible.

  1.  A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF FUNDING & ORGANIZATION

We are transparent about our funding sources. If we accept funding from other organizations, we ensure that funders have no influence over the conclusions we reach in our reports. We detail the professional background of all key figures in our organization and explain our organizational structure and legal status. We clearly indicate a way for readers to communicate with us.

  1. A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF METHODOLOGY

We explain the methodology we use to select, research, write, edit, publish and correct our fact checks. We encourage readers to send us claims to fact-check and are transparent on why and how we fact-check.

  1. A COMMITMENT TO OPEN AND HONEST CORRECTIONS

We publish our corrections policy and follow it scrupulously. We correct clearly and transparently in line with our corrections policy, seeking so far as possible to ensure that readers see the corrected version.

Our Contacts

 You can ask us any question here։

Project partners