Report from Perugia: Fact-checkers discuss sustainability

IJF15-poster-e1429523180691The regional meeting included fact-checkers from Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Nepal, Italy, Iran, Africa and Ukraine.

Written by: Bill Adair

We had a great turnout for last week’s regional meeting of fact-checkers in Perugia, Italy.

The 15 attendees came from fact-checking sites in Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Iran, Africa, Nepal, Italy and the United States. Several came long distances: Damakant Jayshi, who is starting a new site in Nepal, traveled about 4,000 miles; Farhad Souzanchi, who operates the Iranian Rouhani Meter from Toronto, Canada, came 4,300 miles.

Alexios Mantzarlis, his team from Pagella Politica, and RAI TV producer Alberto Puoti were our Italian hosts. They translated menus, recommended the local specialties (wild boar!) and helped us appreciate good olive oil.

One discovery: It turns out there is good wine in Italy, so we tried some.

We organized the meeting to coincide with the International Journalism Festival, a wonderful conference held every year in the old hilltop city. (Actually, calling an Italian city “old” is probably redundant!)

At the journalism festival, Alexios, Peter Cunliffe-Jones and I were on a panel that showed how fact-checking can be done by any beat reporter. Margo Gontar of Stop Fake in Ukraine was on a panel about debunking false information.

Fact-checkers-Perugia
Fact Checkers Perugia

We all got together Saturday morning in a hotel conference room and discussed the challenge of sustainability and how we can find new sources of revenue. We also talked about our two successful global checkathons and the pros and cons of fact-checking the media.

We also talked about possible topics for our London summit in late July, including how to adapt fact-checks to different platforms, how to make our work more lively and how to measure our impact.

Another topic: the need to collect examples of how our fact-checking is having an impact. I’m going to create a simple Google form that you can use to submit anecodtes and then I’ll publish them here.

The Perugia meeting was truly inspiring for me. It showed how this new form of journalism continues to grow. As always, I came away impressed by the caliber of the journalists doing the work and their dedication. I was particularly impressed by Farhad and Damakant, who are fact-checking and promise-checking politicians in countries that are not very welcoming to journalists. They show that our work doesn’t just take journalistic skill, it also takes courage.

(www.reporterslab.org)

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