The following principles have been agreed to by the members of Comprobado and serve as our methodological and ethical guide for the projects that form part of this initiative.
Commitment to impartiality
The members of this project are committed to carrying out verification in an impartial way, abiding solely and exclusively by journalistic criteria when choosing, verifying and validating debunks.
Therefore, we are committed to treating all verifications equally, following the same principles and relying on the evidence to define the conclusions.
To carry out verifications, the members of this project adhere to the following methodology:
How do we choose what we verify?
We choose what we verify:
- According to its impact, which we will calculate by following social network monitoring processes as well as citizen claims submitted to the platform through social networks.
- According to the level of danger. Disinformation that incites hatred toward a group, or that endangers public health or social peace, will be subject to verification.
How do we conduct the verification?
We conduct verifications by employing fact-checking techniques that range from checking official statistical data, to the comparison of sources using forensic analysis of manipulated images, to the tracing and identification of fraudulent social media accounts.
We will contact the individuals or institutions referenced in the verification we are working on, as it is essential to be able to use what they say and to quote them as sources in the report of the verification.
How do we validate the verification?
A verification is considered endorsed by the Comprobado project if it has validation from at least three members of the project.
Until such validation has occurred, it will not be published under Comprobado’s name and will not be considered a verification.
3. Source transparency
All sources used to carry out a verification must be made public. Claims from an unidentified person or entity cannot officially form part of a verification. Such sources may be consulted in the course of the investigation, but will not count when reaching a verdict regarding the verification.
In the case of official sources such as public organisations or institutions, we strive to provide written proof of their answer.
In the case of using official statistics or references to a previous declaration (archive), these must be correctly identified so that any citizen who wants to replicate the verification can do so.
Pieces from Comprobado will always be signed by the journalist who writes up the final verification. However, in the report on the CrossCheck platform, we will recognise the input from our colleagues at other media outlets who have significantly contributed to the collaborative verification.
4. Commitment to independence
This is an alliance composed of 16 media outlets. We commit ourselves to working independently from our political, economic, ideological and media interests when carrying out a verification.
Journalists participating in this project commit themselves to refraining from investigating in verifications where there may be a conflict of interest (for example, when verifying content from the organisation they belong to), or when the Comprobado Advisory Board asks them to refrain from investigation so as to not impair the project. Journalists will also refrain from defending or publicly divulging political or ideological positions that might undermine the essential independence of the project, or that may be used by a third party to undermine our project.
5. Commitment to ethical responsibility
The media outlets participating in this project commit themselves to informing the public only about the things that fit with our methodology principles, ensuring that they do not give additional visibility to rumours or disinformation circulating in niche communities.
We also commit to informing the public responsibly in both our text and headlines, without seeking greater media attention through sensationalist or deceptive headlines.
6. Commitment to an honest corrections policy
If a Comprobado verification is proven wrong, members of this alliance commit to removing the content and rectifying the matter in an honest, clear and transparent way. The Comprobado members who approved an erroneous verification commit to publishing an appropriate correction in their media outlets, in the same way that the original verification was published.
Any citizen or institution that believes that a verification has not been executed with due diligence may contact the Advisory Board, requesting a correction. The Advisory Board will respond to this request, evaluating whether a correction is necessary or not.
7. Internal governance of Comprobado
To facilitate the process and to ensure the proper operation of this initiative, we have determined beforehand a series of internal governance processes. We will create an Advisory Board to help organise decisions.
Who comprises the advisory board?
The Advisory Board is formed of four members:
- Desirée García. EFE
- Juanlu Sánchez. eldiario.es
- Iris López de Solís. RTVE
- Óscar Allende. El Faradio
Maldita.es will not have a right to vote in the Advisory Board, but will serve as the secretary at the Advisory Board meetings and the guide of the processes due to its expertise in fact-checking. Maldita.es is responsible for collecting complaints or comments from Comprobado members, handling correction requests and the admission and exit of media outlets into (or out of) Comprobado. Maldita.es will convene with the Advisory Board to evaluate them.
A member of the academic community, Bella Palomo of Malaga University, will assist the Advisory Board in making decisions. This member is invited as an observer/assessor and has no voting rights.
Advisory Board members should be journalists who are involved in the day-to-day processes of the project, as such persons will have a better understanding of the dynamics and the possible problems they will face.
How is the advisory board chosen?
The Advisory Board shall be selected through the votes of all the members of the alliance, following the candidacy of the interested parties.
What does the advisory board do?
- While the project is in progress, the Advisory Board should hold a weekly videoconference to evaluate the correct operation of the project.
- The Advisory Board coordinates the admittance and expulsion of media outlets from the project.
- The Advisory Board evaluates correction requests, consulting with the rest of the alliance if necessary.
- The Advisory Board attends to the concerns of the different members of the project and tries to give them solutions if possible.
- The Advisory Board will submit to the vote of all Comprobado members any possible decisions that may arise during the implementation of the project, provided that there is a majority on the Advisory Board to carry out this vote.
How do we decide what media outlets enter?
- Once the project is announced, any media outlet that wishes to join must commit to the guiding principles that this alliance has agreed upon.
- The Advisory Board will issue a recommendation, by majority vote, as to whether the new media outlet should be accepted.
- Keeping in mind the Advisory Board’s recommendation, the members of the alliance will then undertake a vote on the admission of the media outlet. This vote will occur within 48 hours after the Advisory Board issues its recommendation and the alliance members have been notified of the recommendation.
How do we decide what media outlets leave?
- A media outlet may be expelled if it infringes the guiding principles.
- A member of the alliance may request the expulsion of another media outlet. This request will be evaluated by the Advisory Board, which will submit a recommendation by majority vote as to whether the media outlet in question should be expelled.
- Keeping in mind the Advisory Board’s recommendation, the members of the alliance will then vote on the expulsion of that media outlet. This vote will occur within 48 hours after the Advisory Board issues its recommendation and the alliance members have been notified of the recommendation.