September 2018 Q&A with Alexios Mantzarlis

Each month we pose a question to International Fact-Checking Network Director Alexios Mantzarlis. Our arrangement permits Mantzarlis to reply to questions at any time as his schedule permits.


ZEBRA FACT CHECK (Sept. 3, 2018)

Earlier this year, PolitiFact issued a new statement of principles, including a corrections policy that apparently gives it license to correct all spelling errors without issuing any notice of correction. Also this year, the International Fact-Checking Network issued an update to its policy guidance for fact-checking organizations, stating that if a fact-checking organization is subordinate to another organization the parent organization needs to adhere to the same corrections policy as the subordinate fact-checking organization. The guidance notes that striking a balance on that policy may present a challenge.

The Poynter Institute has a history of issuing correction notices when it misspells proper names. PolitiFact does not. Which corrections policy holds sway under the IFCN’s explanation of its principles?



The updated guidance around corrections was designed to reflect the challenge of fact-checking projects housed within outlets accused (legitimately or not) of sharing false information or unresponsive to correction. (As you know, the IFCN verification applies only to a dedicated fact-checking project and not to their parent projects: to The Washington Post Fact Checker, but not to the WaPo overall; to Liberation’s CheckNews but not to Liberation. Etcetera.)

So the way we’ve designed it the policy in effect requires that the parent corrections policy be at least as stringent as the fact-checking project it hosts. In this case it does seem like the parent (Poynter) has a more stringent policy than the fact-checking project (PolitiFact) around typos. That does not contradict our current policies — so long as the criteria listed here and copied below are met. We updated this language recently, as you know, to make more explicit what we think a corrections policy should include. As we move forward, we might well imagine requesting that the most stringent policy of an organization apply to the fact-checker. Thanks for raising this point.

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