Our fact check program will uphold the standards and ethics that guide our entire newsgathering and reporting process.
We will be fair and balanced in the material we choose to fact check. We will promptly address claims of inaccuracy and, if an error is found, we will publish a correction.
How do we find material to fact check?
Our reporters, who are in multiple states along with correspondents in Washington, DC, covering local, state and national issues, are always on the lookout for material on their beats.
We also want to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How do we choose our topics?
We look for material from elected and appointed officials, those running for office, those who represent public officials and other public figures. We monitor speeches, debates, events, TV appearances, news stories, social media, campaign ads, news releases and more for material.
In selecting the items to fact check – because we can’t check them all – we try to focus on politics, health, science and other topics in the news, significant national issues or those that could be confusing to people. Though we don’t keep count, we do strive for balance – ideologically and geographically – in our fact checks.
How do we report a fact check?
In almost all cases, our fact checks are reported by reporters who are subject matter experts. The reporting could include:
- Asking the person who made the claim for evidence to back up the assertion, then researching that material.
- Interviewing topic experts, including those with varying perspectives.
- Reviewing primary source documents related to the claim.
- Seeking official, nonpartisan sources such as city halls, statehouses and Congress for bills, voting records and budget information; state and federal records for corporate information, and agencies such as the IRS and FEC for relevant data.
All sources used will be hyperlinked and/or listed at the bottom of every fact check.
How do we edit our fact checks?
First, before a fact check is undertaken, a reporter reviews the claim with an editor and discusses the approach.
Once the story is written, an editor carefully reviews the fact check for tone and to ensure the sourcing is transparent, relevant and trustworthy. The editor and reporter work together to confirm that every statement in the story is accurate and the wording used is fair. They then choose a rating.
After that, another fact check editor reviews their work. If there are any concerns, they will enlist the guidance of a senior editor.
A copy editor will read the story before it is published.
What are our ratings?
We’ve tried to keep our story format and ratings system as straightforward as possible.
You’ll generally see this structure in each of our stories:
A short explanation of what we’re checking.
A section describing the context, where we’ll explain the circumstances around the topic as well as what we’ve discovered in our research.
A summary of our findings.
Those findings will explain how and why we arrived at one of these ratings:
True: The content in the item we fact-checked was supported by our research.
Satire: An item uses irony, exaggeration or absurdity for criticism or awareness.
Missing Context: Our research finds that the item may mislead without additional context.
Partly False: Some of the content in the item has factual inaccuracies, including miscalculations, a mix of true and false information, or an item presented as opinion but based on false information.
Altered: The item was faked, manipulated or transformed in some way.
False: The content in the item was not supported by our research and has no basis in fact.
The above ratings went into effect on Aug. 11, 2020.
What if we need to correct something?
We recognize that mistakes may happen – or that new information can emerge after a story is published – and we pledge to address all concerns quickly, fairly and transparently.
If a correction or clarification is warranted, we will highlight that in the original fact check and explain to readers why the change was made.