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European elections, journalists’ alliance to thwart fake news

To counter misinformation on the forthcoming elections for the renewal of the European Parliament 19 media outlets have launched factcheckeu.info. "Our goal”, explained the editorial board, “is to create a direct link with our readers and restore confidence in news media”

An interesting website was launched a few weeks ago thanks to the cooperation of 19 European media outlets representing 13 Countries “to fact-check the election campaigns ahead of the European vote of May 2019.” Www.factcheckeu.info provides an analysis of fake news or misconceptions about Europe. It offers the possibility to ask questions on the elections that  will be answered by partner media outlets after having checked the facts. “Our goal”, explained the editorial board, “is to establish a direct link with our readers and restore some trust in the media by being transparent about our choices and replying to our audience’s questions directly, regardless of their partisan preferences.”
Partner media outlets include Le Monde, France Press, Libération e France 24; Lavoce.info and Pagella politica representing Italy; Observador for Portugal, The Journal from Ireland, Faktograf from Croatia and Patikrinta 15min, first fact checking project in all three Baltic States. All partners media outlets are European signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles and are thus committed to “12 different criteria on transparency, ethics, methodology and impartiality.” Elections, migration, legislation, politics, economy and social media are the categories representing the questions of Internet users or addressed by the  partner media outlets. For example: the website explains why the statement made by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in an interview in La Stampa (May 6) that migrants arrivals into Europe dropped by 95% compared to 2015 is inaccurate. Another article analyzes a – distorted, exaggerated – claim made by German far-right party AfD that “1.4 million” asylum seekers are waiting for “their tickets to Germany”, or why the statement made by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of left-wing party La France Insoumise, that the European Central Bank holds a quarter of France’s public debt is incorrect.
According to its promoters, the “project is entirely independent of EU institutions and other governmental actors” providing full information on its funding: the platform was built by Libération and Datagif thanks to a grant from the Poynter Institute worth $50,000, while other costs – management and translation into the website’s 11 languages are covered by Google (€44,000), the Open Society Initiative for Europe (€40,000) and the IFCN (€10,000).

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