1. SELECTING A STORY FOR FACT CHECK
We stand on totally neutral ground while picking up a story to fact check devoid of any political or circumstantial bias. Sifting through requests from our audiences is the first step towards selecting a claim to begin the fact check process. We track mainstream and social media non-stop for possibly dubious information, propaganda, suspiciously viral posts and misinformation, including contentious/controversial quotes attributed to public figures. Such claims can reach us by way of tweets or controversial speeches by politicians, hashtags designed to provoke, viral videos, memes, Facebook pages and messaging apps like WhatsApp. Virality of topics is a stand-out criterion for a fact-check. We make extensive use of internet tools like CrowdTangle and Google Trends to keep a tab on what is being shared widely at any point. Conspicuous rumours, and debates in the public domain on issues designed to trigger controversy or social conflict could also trigger the fact check process.
2. RESEARCH AND INVESTIGATION
Once material for a fact check is decided upon, it is discussed during an editorial meeting. The next step is to establish an understanding of the material, and exactly what was said or posted. Extreme caution is exercised to arrive first at whether the claim is even fact-checkable. We do not pick up opinions for fact check or try to debunk claims made in the form of opinion. After establishing what precisely the claim is, we reach out directly to the person or the entity and seek evidence to support the claim. We first seek the claimant’s reaction by all possible means.
Our focus is then on the credibility and reliability of the source. We rely on government websites, reputed journals, websites of well known organizations, magazines, dailies or company publications for source material of claims and data. Apart from conventional methods of reaching out to possible sources, we also use various internet tools to verify the origin of viral photographs or videos before arriving at a conclusion. Contacting experts on the subject, official authorities or police and recording their views is also an important element that runs alongside in the fact check process.
3. CROSS VERIFICATION FROM THE SPOT
TV Today Network has one of the largest national reporting resources in the country. As and when required, we use this wide network of reporters and stringers spread across the country and abroad to cross-check facts on the ground. To ensure authenticity and impartiality, we never assign the responsibility of a cross-verification or corroboration to a reporter who may have filed his/her own report on the same subject or who has been a primary source for an information we are looking into. We provide hyperlinks where possible within our stories pointing to the source of information and evidence used to reach a conclusion so that readers can themselves track authenticity.
4. REPORT WRITING AND REVIEW
We try to present verified facts in a simple, precise and transparent manner along with a deep, relevant perspective. We put together reports with an adequate level of detail, but easy to consume and understand, with a clear path tracking how we reached the conclusions we did. A great deal of attention is paid to the tone and tenor of the subject matter in fact check posts in order to underscore neutrality. We refrain from editorial comment and restrict ourselves to the specific fact we have checked. The report then goes through another review by a copy editor before publication.
5. PUBLISHING AND FEEDBACK
After publication of a fact checked report, we closely monitor feedback from our audiences through story comments or social media. If an error is brought to our notice, we examine it thoroughly and, if necessary, effect an update or correction in accordance with our well-established correction policy.
In journalism, mistakes can and do happen even after the application of due diligence procedures. At TopYaps, we do not hesitate to acknowledge them and respond when brought to our notice.
TopYaps Fact Check corrects errors as quickly as possible and with high levels of transparency. If the correction is straightforward, we mark the correction within 24 hours of being pointed out. But if the correction involves further investigation or reaching out to people for their reactions, the correction may take up to 72 hours. We value feedback from our readers, which can be posted in the comments section at the end of every story, video or post. A request for a correction or an update in a story can also be sent to [email protected].
TopYaps also monitors its large presence on social media platforms and welcomes feedback and criticism from our readers.
If there is a major correction or a substantive change which modifies the rating of a news story, it is prominently marked as “Correction” at the top, and we clearly indicate the change, with information on why the change was necessary. This provides a clear, transparent history to every correction.
If a new fact comes to light after a story is published, information that adds substantial new layers or angles but does not alter the rating, it is marked as “Update” at the end of the article.
Corrections in typographical errors, misspellings, grammatical errors or minor changes which are not considered significant by editors are not usually noted.