Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look…
What is VERA Files Fact Check?
VERA Files Fact Check tracks false claims, flip-flops and misleading statements of public officials and figures and debunks them with factual evidence. It also debunks misinformation and disinformation spread on the internet through websites and social media.
Government officials, politicians and other public figures tend to play fast and loose with the facts, in the process misleading the public. These “alternative facts” spread easily owing to the big following and wide reach of these public figures. In addition, social media platforms have increasingly been exploited to spread misinformation and disinformation by both public and nonpublic figures.
As journalists, we at VERA Files are committed to seeking and telling the truth. Fact-checking is one of the means. We believe in accountability journalism, which is essential to a functioning democracy.
How did VERA Files Fact Check begin?
It started during the 2016 presidential elections as a class activity of VERA Files cofounder and then trustee Yvonne T. Chua at the University of the Philippines where she teaches journalism. Chua’s students fact-checked statements made by candidates for national positions, applying guidelines used by fact-checkers in other parts of the world. She and VERA Files writer Jake Soriano worked closely on the activity and posted the output in VERA Files under the “Is that so?” section. "Is that so?” became “VERA Files Fact Check” in July that year. Chua led VERA Files Fact Check until Jan. 31, 2019.
How do you fact-check?
Here’s the process:
Step 1: The team monitors press conferences, speeches, events, statements, interviews etc. for statements worth fact-checking.
Step 2: One team member is assigned to research and verify the “suspicious” claim or statement. He or she looks for multiple sources to do one or two of the following: (1) dispute or corroborate the claim, (2) use these for the backstory, or (3) collect as proof that there was a flip-flop. Other team members in the research.
Step 3: The team member writes and shares his or her findings with the entire team.
Step 4: The other team members weigh in. They perform additional fact-checking and first-editing, as needed.
Step 5: Infographics or videos are prepared to go with the item, as needed.
Step 6: Three senior editors finalize and sign off on the article before it is posted.
VERA Files released in March 2018 an online guide: VERAfied: A DIY guide to fact checking and fighting fake news.
The team holds regular meetings to brainstorm, propose stories, and challenge pitches or findings.
What are some of our do’s and don’ts when fact-checking?
These are a few things that are strictly observed when we fact-check:
- The statement being fact-checked has to be firsthand. We look for the press release, press statement, transcript of an interview, audio or video that holds the statement.
- If the statement can’t be found except in a news accounts, the news reports must be cross-checked against one another to ensure consistency. We follow a three-source policy: At least three media networks must have used the same quote, or reported the statement or claim.
- We use primary sources to provide the evidence. We shy away from secondary sources, including news accounts, unless triangulation is possible.
- In the spirit of transparency, we provide the links to the sources of the statement and the evidence that are presented in the article. Sources used in infographics and videos are also prominently featured.
Where do you post your results?
Who does the fact-checking at VERA Files?
Because fact-checking is laborious, we have assigned a team of editors and reporters to do this besides their few other tasks. They’re listed below. Click their names to read their bios.
- Ellen Tordesillas
- Booma Cruz
- Chi Liquicia
- Charmaine Deogracias
- Anthony Cuaycong
- Celine Isabelle Samson
- Meeko Angela Camba
- Elijah Roderos
- Ivel John Santos
- Merinette Retona
- Tita Valderama
- Klaire Ting
- Blanch Ancla
- Enrico Berdos
Why are there no bylines?
As our process demonstrates, fact-checking is collaborative. It’s a team effort. So the whole team is accountable for the entries.
Do you follow any standards when fact-checking?
We are guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, a global alliance of fact-checkers committed to advance accountability journalism.
As a news media organization, we strictly adhere to the professional and ethical standards set for journalists such as those found in the Society of Professional Journalists and the Philippine Journalists Code of Ethics. These include accuracy, fairness, balance, independence, accountability and transparency. That’s not only for the fact-checking initiative but applies to the gamut of our work at VERA Files.
Who funds VERA Files Fact Check?
VERA Files Fact Check is a project of the independent media nonprofit Verafiles Inc. established in 2008 and based in Quezon City. It is supported mainly by Verafiles Inc. and the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED). VERA Files became part of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program in April 2018.
NED is supporting the fact check project with a $156,000 grant from Feb. 1, 2020 to Jan. 1, 2022.
It contributed $75,000 in a grant for the period Feb. 2019 to Jan. 2020; $47,600 for the period July 2018 to January 2019; $80,000 for the period July 2017 to June 2018 and $70,000 for the period July 2016 to June 2017.
To date, the fact check project has not received contributions from other individuals or institutions but will disclose any individual donation exceeding $1,000 or P50,000.
Verafiles Inc. relies on the proceeds from the sale of its stories, donations and contributions, and grants to fund its operations. It received a total of P1.13 million in donations and contributions in 2017. Read more about Verafiles Inc. here.
How sure are we that you’re not backed by a politician or political party?
VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit media organization that values its journalistic autonomy. We don’t take money from politicians, political parties or partisan groups. The trustees and staff members have to stay strictly nonpartisan and aren’t allowed political affiliations. They don’t take on memberships, projects and activities that will compromise their independence and result in conflict of interest situations, whether real or perceived.
What hashtags do you use for your fact-check?
We use three: #factcheckPH, #verafilesfactcheck and #verafiedPH.
Do you accept leads or contributions for your fact-checking initiative?
Certainly. This goes for all our reports. We’re pleased to say we’ve produced a few entries in VERA Files Fact Check based on the suggestions of our readers.
If you want us to fact-check anything, contact us at:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Viber or Mobile No.: +63916343898
What if the fact-check team makes a mistake?Do call our attention right away. VERA Files has a correction policy. We correct substantive errors in our reports. We insert corrections in the original text with an accompanying editor’s note.