IFCN News: What’s Happening with Alt News (India)

Alt News logo

On June 7, 2019 the International Fact-Checking Network announced that one of its verified signatory organizations stood accused of breaching the IFCN Code of Principles.

Later reports appeared to confirm that Alt News (based in India) was the accused organization. Critics alleged that one of Alt News’ executives held membership in a political advocacy organization. The IFCN Code of Principles calls for nonpartisanship:

Principle 1 “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.”

The IFCN judges compliance with Principle 1 based in turn on the following explanation:

The organization must not support a candidate in any election nor advocate or take policy positions on any issues not strictly related to fact-checking. The organization should also explain its policies on preventing staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations.

The IFCN also explains how organizations may fully comply with the above requirement:

The applicant has not endorsed a candidate, party or policy and it has clear policies preventing staff from active involvement in advocacy. This policy must be shared with the public either through the verification process or on a public website and it is additional to any other code of ethics for journalists the organization might adhere to.

[Disclosure: Zebra Fact Check opposes the IFCN policy preventing political advocacy]

IFCN Director Baybars Örsek announced the IFCN would remain transparent and informative while investigating the situation with Alt News. We asked Örsek for an update.

“We have extended a series of questions to the organization and provided time until next Saturday,” Örsek said. “We will then publicly share our conclusion on the matter with the questions asked along with the answers provided including the road map we will follow on this.”

Of note, the news site OpIndia, which reportedly failed to earn IFCN verification for its fact-checking effort, has kept tabs on this story.

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