Establishing a Standard
DUBAWA adheres to a process of scrupulous and diligent selection, research, writing, and editing for its fact-checking exercise. To ensure consistency across fact checks, while refraining from limiting individual creativity, we have developed a standard methodology.
First of all, a CLAIM is a factual assertion made in nonfiction text.
The DUBAWA team monitors the media and information space to identify claims which meet our selection criteria. We also receive requests from the public to clarify controversies or ambiguities.
Our Selection Criteria
The decision to fact-check a particular claim depends on the quality of the claim. Whenever we get claims, we check to see if the statement is actually checkable, that is, are there facts sufficient enough to support or contest the claim? We’d try to ask the following questions as well:
- Is the topic significant enough to influence public opinions?
- Was the statement made by a public figure [a person with large followership]?
- Would a typical person hear or read the statement and wonder: is that true?
- Does the claim show non-partisanship of the platform? This is to ensure fairness so that it does not seem like we are supporting a particular group or ideology.
As a result, we do not fact-check baseless opinions or predictions as a principle. These are terribly hard to prove [or disprove] and a fact-check is really about examining ‘assertions’ that attribute to facts with the hope that the truth is revealed. However, sometimes, we write analytical pieces which we call “Explainers” to elaborate on an opinion if we believe there are sufficient grounds for public misinterpretation.
Want to send claims our way?
You can send a claim that you’re unsure of, about a wide range of issues via the following channels:
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @dubawaNG, @dubawaGH, @dubawaSL, @dubawaLI, @dubawaGM
WhatsApp: NG – +234 913 116 7621; GH – +233 54 281 8189
Please provide us with as much information as possible about the claim you want to be checked, the person or organisation who made it, and where you saw, read or heard the claim being made. If you can, include links. Suggestions with this information are far more likely to end up as fact checks.
Researching the Claim
When a claim is accessed as checkable by the Editors, it is assigned to a researcher/fact-checker.
Our researcher then proceeds to contact the claimant (speaker or their office). We make it necessary to communicate with the speaker – via email, text, call or even visits. Once the claim has been confirmed, we embark on comprehensive research with pre-eminence given to original and reliable sources. Our sourcing policy is keenly guided by a five-layered evaluation mechanism that privileges:
- Named Sources as against unnamed sources
- Authoritative as against random sources
- Independent as against self-interested sources
- Verifiable as against assertive sources
- Multiple as against single sources
Our researchers ask the following questions when interrogating data: is this source/evidence the closest to the original? When was it gathered? Was this survey representative or particular? What is the interest of this organisation releasing the report? Can I quote this source? Is this evidence relevant to this fact-check or am I just writing it because I need to include multiple sources? Even though every opinion supports this claim, is there that one document that may refute it and why? What’s the expertise of the source and is it transparent/reliable? How representative is the respondent? Was it diverse enough? Were the reports presented truthfully? All these ensure rigorous scrutiny and objectivity in our process.
In essence, we do our due diligence!
How We Write the Report
Armed with sufficient information, the fact-check is written. Context, clarity and transparency are ensured in our writing process. The fact-check usually answers the following questions: where and when was it said? To whom? Why is this particular statement being fact-checked? What resources, documents, spreadsheets and interviews were used in compiling the fact-check? The goal here is to ensure a comprehensive exhibition of evidence is presented to our readers every time.
The Editing Process
This is a two-way stage, where the editors “fact-check” the fact-check. Afterwards, the fact-check will be sent to a copy editor for final review using standardised questions for each fact-check, as well as general knowledge of fact-checking and writing principles.
Publishing and Distribution
The fact-check is published and distributed on our web platforms and on social media. We also have a content use policy for other publishers who find our content of unique value to their platforms. Upon publication, readers can provide feedback via [email protected], our social media handles and in the comments sections.
Our Rating System
Over time, we have changed our ratings to better reflect the realities of fact-checking. Currently, most of our fact-checks will be tagged:
TRUE – A fact-check is deemed true when all elements of such a claim pertain to factual information. It is also used contextually and verifiable at the time of assertion.
FALSE – A fact-check is deemed false when all elements of such a claim do not pertain to factual information at the time of assertion. In essence, imposter, manipulated and fabricated content will be considered false.
MOSTLY TRUE – A fact-check is deemed mostly true when some elements of such a claim pertain to factual information; used contextually and verifiable at the time of assertion. Usually, this rating will be assigned to fact-checks with three or more claims.
MOSTLY FALSE – A fact-check is deemed mostly false when some elements of such a claim do not pertain to factual information at the time of assertion, while an element may be true. Usually, this rating will be assigned to fact-checks with three or more claims.
MISLEADING – A fact-check is deemed misleading when elements of a claim are too complex to be termed true or false. This could mean two things:
MORE CONTEXT NEEDED/ WRONG CONTEXT – when the claim(s) oversimplifies complex issues. On a surface level, these may seem correct but they are either used out-of-context or depict an unintended meaning
INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE – when the claim(s) is unverifiable; usually pertaining to urban myths or unquantifiable data.
Facebook Fact Checking
Because of our partnership with Facebook (read more here), we sometimes rate certain claims specifically obtained from Facebook in accordance with its rating system. These are not in conflict with the aforementioned ratings, rather are terms that at this point, describe the form of misinformation in circulation on that platform.
Facebook Rating System
FALSE – The content has no basis in fact.
PARTLY FALSE – This content has some factual inaccuracies.
MISSING CONTEXT – The content may mislead without additional context.
TRUE – The content contains no inaccurate or misleading information.
SATIRE – The content uses irony, exaggeration, or absurdity for criticism or awareness, particularly in the context of political, religious, or social issues, but a reasonable user would not immediately understand it to be satirical.
NOT ELIGIBLE – The content contains a claim that is not verifiable, was true at the time of writing, is an opinion, or is from a politician.
NOT RATED – This is the default state before you have fact-checked content.