CrossCheck Australia Guiding Principles
Partners in this coalition share a commitment to accurate, reliable reporting based on verifiable evidence.
Language used in headlines and articles will be chosen to add context and explanation and will be based only on verifiable evidence. This also applies to all images, illustrations or visual indicators that are used to demonstrate whether information is trustworthy or unreliable.
Fairness and Impartiality
Decisions about which rumours, claims or content to investigate will be based on the likelihood that they will spread quickly and beyond niche communities.
All newsrooms are accountable to each other and understand that their non-project output may receive the same scrutiny from the project as any other source.
As a coalition, the project operates in the public interest and is entirely independent from any one organisation. Operational and editorial decisions are taken collectively and are not influenced by the financial and technological support it has received from commercial or supporting organisations.
The project has no political affiliations and participating journalists agree to clearly state and abstain from investigating stories where they could be deemed to have a conflict of interest.
Organisations that assist with the coordination of the project provide both administrative and technical support, and offer direction and guidance based on their fields of expertise. In every case, the coalition is under no obligation to adhere to this advice and retains collective autonomy over the project.
Every report will clearly state how the claim, rumour or item of content was selected (based on evidence of expected spread and relevance to the public interest). It will also explain the investigative steps taken, including links to sources where safe and appropriate.
Any amendments or corrections will be clearly labelled and explained.
The project will strive at all times to ensure that additional oxygen is not given to rumours and false information. The project will not give traffic to problematic content or provide legitimacy to information circulating in small, niche communities.
In cases where individuals have been misidentified, falsely accused or are in danger of being victimised based on their inclusion in a report, the project will take all steps necessary to protect their identity and dignity.
Claims and content will be selected for investigation and published based on their relevance to the project’s mission to accurately inform the voting public on issues related to the election. Decisions to publish will not be driven by incentives to enhance or attract attention to the project or its partners, such as highlighting deliberately divisive subject matter or using sensational headlines.
Collaborators agree the findings from this practical project may be used towards a final report/s summarizing the experience and include content analysis of the CrossCheck platform. The report may be submitted to academic publishing and related press releases.
Cross Check Australia Editorial Policy and Procedures
All contributors participating in CrossCheck Australia are committed to the accurate, fair and balanced (with weight appropriate to evidence) reporting of stories and claims circulating without context or supporting evidence on the social web.
Our reports are prepared based on the research of multiple contributors from different organisations. These contributors work together to investigate and agree the veracity and credibility of information that is identified as newsworthy.
Reports will be published once multiple partners have agreed the verification steps taken (discussions to take place on a designated closed-group forum only viewable to project participants, such as Slack), the conclusions drawn and the overall veracity of the reporting.
For the purposes of this project, newsworthy information is defined as:
1) A text post, video, image, article, document or other form of online content that is rapidly gaining prominence across social networks or has been referenced by at least one influential figure either on- or offline.
2) An allegation or rumour surfaced from unofficial sources that has the potential to impact public discourse, cause harm, or fuel division, disruption or confusion.
3) Footage and/or eyewitness accounts relating to an unexpected event that affects members of the public (such as environmental catastrophe or terror incidents).
Objectivity & Fairness
The same standard and methodology will be used for every investigation and the project will select stories and claims for investigation from all sides of the political spectrum without unfairly concentrating on one party or argument. The project will respond to questions or requests from the public without bias or assumption.
All partners acknowledge that their own output (including news reports, social media posts and research papers) is subject to the same scrutiny and could be selected for investigation by the project if requested by a member of the public.
Strategic Silence & Responsible Publishing
In cases where the focus of an investigation is a deliberate falsehood, a conspiracy, or a coordinated effort to undermine, we may withhold a public report and share findings only with necessary stakeholders, alerting them to specific threats without further amplification.
In cases where a public report is deemed to be valuable and appropriate, care is taken to include only accurate information in the headline and text, avoiding speculative statements and leading questions that might reinforce the inaccurate information.
Use of Imagery
CrossCheck Australia does not publish imagery sourced online and relating to the investigation if:
It is deemed to be graphic or distressing
It could compromise the identity of at-risk individuals
It could fuel speculation and add oxygen to a story that is proven to be false or unreliable, or only acts to give coverage to a campaign slogan/hashtag
It has not been possible to gain consent from the owner
All reports are written and presented clearly and simply to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. Appropriate language and visuals are selected to help explain the verification steps taken and conclusion reached. Reports do not include opinion, conjecture or presumption.
We are vigilant in our protection of all sources who choose to remain anonymous.
When identifying any individuals in relation to a story or claim, we do so only when persons who have already been repeatedly referenced publicly are considered to be recognisable and a person of interest (e.g. politician or online influencer).
In all cases where the victims of misinformation, conspiracy or hoaxes are concerned, at-risk individuals will be made unidentifiable by name or image, for example by pixelation.
In cases where perpetrators of deliberate misinformation or conspiracy are identified, we may reference their real or online persona and related pages and profiles in an effort to alert the public to the source of misinformation.
If we are alerted to a mistake, or our verification work or conclusions are challenged, then we will add a correction or clarification to the published report on our website. We will also make every effort possible to reach the original recipients of our reporting by disseminating our correction via social media and public statements, where necessary.