A brief history of “Faktoje”

“Faktoje.al”, which is the first fact-checking site in Albania, started operating in 2017. “Faktoje” was created by a grant of USAID, under the auspices of the Gender Alliance for Development Center (GADC), with the support of the National Center for Social Studies (NCSS). “Faktoje” team is composed of editors and journalists, who focus on verifying statements, promises and actions of public officials and major institutions in the country. As of July 2019, “Faktoje” is registered with the court authorities and operates as a fully independent, non-for-profit media organization.

Faktoje is part of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) since January of 2020 as a signatory member and part of the Anti Disinformation Network in the Balkans since April the 2nd of 2020.

What is fact-checking?

Fact-checking or fact verification is a modern, identifiable category of journalism. It aims at ensuring an accurate and unbiased analysis of public statements, in order to correct misconceptions and increase public knowledge of important matters.

How we are funded

Transparency is crucial on the subject of sources of funding. We aCCept funds from other organizations and make sure that the conclusions drawn on our reports are not affected by our donors. We provide details on the professional background of the main personalities of our organization, and we also give information on our organizational chart and legal status. “Faktoje” in 2022 is funded through grants of: “Matra programme” of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs , IREX,  NED and EU.

Depoliticization, commitment to impartiality and honesty

“Faktoje” organization does not engage with political activities. Statements and promises of politicians, public officials and entities benefiting from public funds to be fact-checked are selected based on the impact they have on citizens’ life. Fact-checking is carried out in a standard manner, implementing a methodology, which was published on our official website “Faktoje.al”, under the subcategory “About Us”. “Faktoje” aims at maintaining a balance and verifying statements and promises of the political sphere (government and opposition) representatives and other public institutions. The conclusions we draw are based on evidence at all times.

None of our team members are affiliated with any political party or organization. From its foundation onwards, current and future staffers of “Faktoje” are required not to engage with political activities.

Methodology

The methodology of “Faktoje” guides the editing team and the journalists through selecting topics, conducting research, structuring articles or videos, evaluating claims, and most importantly, drawing conclusions based on facts.

 - Selection process

The selection process starts by the preliminary sorting of politicians’ statements on important matters, which are in the public interest (these may be public speeches, electoral campaigns, press releases, statements on TV shows, news editions, debates, newspaper and social media articles, etc.). Politicians include political sphere actors, who may or may not be elected to the government, candidates at the central and local level, who are part of the political sphere and groups of interests.

Prior to selecting a statement to fact-check, we consider the following questions:

1- Is the statement rooted in a verifiable fact? We verify facts instead of opinions.

2- Does the statement seem misleading or sound wrong?

3- Is the statement significant? “Faktoje” avoids fallacies or statements that are obviously mistaken or are a slip of tongue.

4- Is the statement likely to be passed on and repeated by others?

5- Would someone hear the statement and wonder: Is that true?

- Research methods
  1. Asking the person making the statement on the facts they were based

In some instances, our starting point is facts which the person making the statement was based on. Subsequently, we look for other facts that may confirm or debunk such claim (statement). Moreover, informing people that their statements are being verified is a fundamental right. In this way, they are given the opportunity to provide their own perspective. “Faktoje” does not select or use off the record sources for fact-checking purposes, and it always discloses the resources it refers to.

  1. We officially address the state institutions

“Faktoje” officially contacts state institutions pursuant to Law No. 119/2014, “On the Right to Information” regarding data that help us with fact verification.

  1. We seek for what other media has found on the case

We seek for what other media found before us, and afterwards verify facts. During this process, new facts or evidence may emerge, encouraging us to look more into this case.

  1. We continuously use Google Search

While verifying statements, Google Search is another challenge. There are several ways to search data on Google, and some of them take slightly longer and require more skills.

  1. We conduct on-site verifications

As far as certain statements and promises are concerned, on-site verification is critical and unavoidable. Irrespective of the written facts or figures we may find, what we see with our own eyes is fundamental to the verification.

  1. We require expert opinion

Experts can give answers that cannot be found on the case under verification, or they can help in providing an exhaustive and comprehensible explanation to the public and to ourselves on the facts we have found. Experts can save us from falling into the trap of jumping into wrong conclusions on specific and complex cases.

We try to expand the network of experts, whom we contact on fact-checking cases.

  1. What else is there?

Upon the 6 above-mentioned stages, we require more information on the verified topic for purposes of fact-checking.

At this point, we must stop, summarize, and consider the following questions: “Is there something else left to search?”, “Who else can we ask?”, “What other perspective should we consider?”

 

Rating statements

“Faktoje” uses 4 ratings for every statement or promise:

  • TRUE– The statement is accurate and no significant facts are missing.
  • MOSTLY TRUE– The statement is partially accurate, but leaves out important context-related details.
  • FALSE– The statement is not accurate.
  • NO RATING – Upon verification process, the statement is found to be misleading, as a result it displays missing or confusing facts, and thus no conclusion can be drawn.
  • How we correct our errors

We all make mistakes! “Faktoje” corrects errors in published stories as quickly as possible and with appropriate transparency.

An error that results in the wrong rating of the statement we have verified receives a mark of correction at the top of the story. The text of the story is updated with the new information, and an archived copy of the previous story is preserved and linked to.

Errors that do not affect the rating the statement receives a mark of correction at the bottom of the story. The text of the story is updated with the new information, and an archived copy of the previous story is preserved and linked to.

**Corrected stories can be found under the subcategory “Complaints and Corrections”.

Typos, grammatical errors, misspellings – We correct typos, grammatical errors, misspellings, if any, as soon as they are brought to our attention. Such corrections are directly performed, instead of being notified of.

Updates– Time and again, we add additional information to story and fact-checks after they have been published, if any. The latter are not considered corrections, however, the public is notified through a repost.

You can fact-check too!

You can report, send messages and suggestions for fact-checking in the “You can fact-check too!” section. When submitting reports to “Faktoje”, it is assumed that you agree with their publication, excluding cases when you request for them not to be published or anonymity to be preserved.