Is there a formalised procedure for finding mistakes before an article is published, posted on-line or before a programme is broadcast? Or is a procedure applied afterwards?
In the United States and Japan, editorial departments have specialised journalists, known as ‘fact-checkers’, to check information and sources.
If information is incorrect – misspelt, misinterpreted, inaccurate or misquoted – at what point is it corrected and what is the procedure?
De Standaard : These are being improved
The newspaper does not have the financial means to maintain a department, or person, for automatic fact-checking but the existing production procedures ensure that articles are proofread several times by different people before they are published.
In 2013, a study was carried out by the University of Ghent to look for errors, mistakes or approximations in 500 of the newspaper’s articles over a period of two months. It was an occasionally painful exercise but it did increase editorial vigilance.
Europe 1 : This is done case by case
Mistakes made on air are corrected whenever possible.
Obviously, it is easier to correct a mistake in an interview before it is broadcast than it is to intervene afterwards.
France 24 : Language checkers
There is no fact-checking department. Each subject is looked at and then validated by a section head before it is broadcast.
The Arabic section uses language checkers.
Le Monde : Intense reviewing system
Each article is reread three or four times by the hierarchy and the editorial department before it is published.
Once the newspaper has been published, errors are reported via the Readers’ Letters page and are passed on by the mediator to the department concerned which then writes a correction or a clarification.
Ouest France : Reread by the ‘chief editor of the day’
The chief editor of the day systematically reviews all articles for publication, sometimes after a department head has done so.
Each journalist is responsible for the relationship with their readers, so a journalist is notified directly if they have made a mistake. This is then corrected or clarified.
Berliner Zeitung : Proofread three times
Each article is re-read at least three times before it is published.
Serious errors will be acknowledged and corrected in a corrections column on the Opinions page of the newspaper (page 4).
ZDF : No specific department but…
There is no specific system but the whole news production chain is monitored in order to avoid mistakes, from the editor to the Editor-in-chief and sometimes, in very sensitive cases, even the legal department.
The Irish Times : Ongoing attention
The Irish Times does not have a fact-checking department as such but feels it covers itself as much as possible right from the first phase of information gathering, notably in scrupulously respecting the rule of two contradictory sources.
Polskie Radio, kanal 3 : Internal and external
There is no department or person dedicated to fact-checking but different groups carry out regular reviews.
1) The media council contacts an editorial department if a serious error has been made; it uses professional criteria to carry out its investigations and, although it does not have real power, its opinions are symbolically important.
2) The internal council for programming is made up of five members nominated by the political parties. It is more concerned with the content of programmes and reports. In general, it spends one month with the department concerned.