At The Bureau of Investigative Journalism we take fact-checking very seriously. To ensure that the content we produce is reliable and based on verifiable facts we have built a multi-tiered fact-checking process, through which we interrogate the source material relied on in our investigations.
Whether the origin of a story comes from a tip-off or research, our reporters are vigilant in assessing their sources. We back up the information uncovered during the reporting process with multiple primary documents, records, published and digital materials.
Throughout the weeks and months of investigating a story, our journalists work closely with the editing team to get input on their understanding of the evidence they are working with. This approach pushes the reporter to re-examine their sourcing and gives space for course-corrections as needed.
Once the investigation is written and edited by our editors and sub-editors, the article is fact-checked by someone else in our team who has not been involved with the reporting. Having fresh eyes on an investigation after the edit means the fact-checker will have little to no prior knowledge of the details and are more likely to ask questions, requiring the reporter to re-check their sourcing.
During a fact-check the reporter annotates their article, providing verifiable evidence for every fact, including but not limited to: names, name spellings, dates, major story elements, architectural descriptions of buildings, mathematical calculations, the weather, distances, and editorialised language that is communicating a fact.
It is the job of the fact-checker to interrogate the copy based on verifiable evidence. The fact-checker often poses questions about the sources, pushing for clarification and further documentation. When evidence for a fact cannot be provided, is inadequate or faulty, the information is removed from the article. On rare occasions a story is returned to the reporter for reworking depending on the strength of the sourcing for fact-check. Even more rarely, a story can be spiked.
Building multiple sourcing checkpoints into our reporting process requires that our reporters and editors remain vigilant about their sourcing and accuracy. Through this approach we aim to catch as many mistakes and inaccuracies as humanly possible before our work enters the public sphere.