While being a news and opinions opinions website, OpIndia also focuses on fact-check, which includes cross-verifying claims made in the mainstream media and the social media. We are among the first websites in India to focus on fact checking popular claims and beliefs.
Often, ‘fake news’ is confined to the narrow definition of viral photos which might be morphed or outright lies by politicians. However, at OpIndia, we believe that while outright lies need to be fact-checked, half facts being presented and misinterpretation of facts also need to be countered equally vociferously.
Our dedicated team spots such claims for fact-check, and we also entertain requests from our readers and general public who get in touch with us with request for fact checking.
How we do it (Methodology):
1) Selecting claim to fact-check
OpIndia team keeps a keen eye on current affairs. We monitor social media including Twitter, Facebook and the forwards that are doing the rounds on WhatsApp. Apart from social media, we also keep a tab on the statements and claims made by politicians. While most fact-check websites do the same, we also keep tab on the news being forwarded by the mainstream media because we believe that the main mover and amplifier of fake news is often the mainstream media.
We have provided our readers with an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a WhatsApp number (+91 7980429661) where readers can intimate us if they want a particular claim/news fact-checked. The claim/news to fact-check is then selected by OpIndia on the basis of its urgency and sensitivity.
2) Identifying source
Once we decide to fact-check a claim, we try and ascertain the source of the claim. In our experience, several fake news and rumors are spread due to ‘source based’ reporting by the media and the amplification of the same by vested interests. Often, the source of the rumor or fake news also is fake images with improper information furthered by Facebook pages and Twitter handles.
If the sources is known and disclosed, we ascertain if the source is reliable. If the sources is a person or entity, we try to get in touch to confirm the information credited to them. If the source of the claim is unknown, we move on to ascertaining the veracity of the claim independently.
3) Process of fact-checking
If OpIndia chooses to ascertain the authenticity of a photograph or video that has gone viral on social media, first and foremost, we look for markers of tampering of the photograph or video. Often, if a multimedia is tampered, there would be some markers in the product like subtle difference in colour, mismatch in dimensions etc. Often, photographs or videos are used in incorrect context as well. For example, an unrelated image could be used to depict an ongoing violence, thereby, further fanning trouble. For such claims, we use tools like Google’s Reverse Search and use thumbnails of the videos etc. to locate the original and authentic photograph or video.
If political claim
If a political claim needs to be fact-checked, we try first locate an authentic video where the said claim is being made to ensure it has not been misreported. Then, we go on to fact-check that claim from publicly available data from reliable sources.
If a mainstream media report
We try to contact the source directly when a dubious report is spotted. Confirm if the statement has been reported accurately. If the report pertains to a crime, we get in touch with the concerned police station to get the official version of the events.
In all of this, we try to gather as much information as possible from publicly available documents, research papers, direct sources, police and administration, government documents etc to ascertain the veracity of the claim.
4) Consultation with experts
Sometimes, certain claims, especially when legal in nature need the evaluation of a subject expert. In such cases, we reach out to our subject expert contacts and try to understand whether the claim is authentic or not.
5) Writing the fact-check for our readers
After gather relevant information, we proceed to write a story based on our research. We detail every step of the fact-checking process and provide reference links to the research we base our fact-check on.
6) We apologise when we err
Fact-checking is often nuanced work, and we are, but human. In case we err in our reportage, we promptly update our article with the correct version of events and add a note indicating the same to our readers.
The fact-check team
Nupur J Sharma
A management graduate and entrepreneur and has been a long-time political commentator, whose articles have been published at various outlets. She has been the Editor of OpIndia since October 2017, and has led many fact-checking initiatives including cross checking claims of BBC in their report on ‘fake news’.
A commerce graduate with strong background in accountancy and auditing, Nirwa took to journalism to pursue her passion. She covered the 2014 General Assembly elections and 2015 Vibrant Gujarat summit from then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s home state, Gujarat, for a leading national daily. She has been associated with OpIndia as Deputy Editor since August 2017
A 24 years old, resident of Agartala, Tripura. Fluent in Hindi, Bengali and English, he completed my Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Calcutta. He has been working for OpIndia.com since January, 2018.
An experienced news person with varied experiences in the field of media, including TOI, ET, IANS, News Republic to name a few. Working for over a decade in the industry he knows the nuances of news, reporting and opinion with the view that nothing misleading or fake gets through. He is the Editor of OpIndia Hindi.
Working as Deputy Editor, OpIndia Hindi, he is a seasoned media person with over 10 years of experience (Jagran, Bhaskar, NBT, AajTak, NewsRepublic) in journalism. Working in the field for such a period translates in to being a person who knows what’s wrong and what’s not. He has always made sure, slanted opinion and misrepresentation of facts go to bin.
She is a Master of Science (M.Sc), Advanced Diploma in Bio-Therapeutics. She has worked for 3 years as Research Assistant in Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd, Navi Mumbai. She has been a columnist with several portals. She started working with OpIndia from January 2018.
He freelanced as a translator for a decade, working in English to Assamese translation, localisation, subtitling jobs. Before that worked in corporate sector, mostly in finance and insurance companies. Obtained Post Graduate Diploma in Management in the year 2000 from Assam Institute of Management, Guwahati.
OpIndia as an organisation also focuses on commentary and analysis, which could include taking positions on various issues. However, for our fact-check, we depend claims that appear dubious and not backed by data. We ensure that the personal positions taken by commentators don’t affect the authenticity of our fact-checks and the subjects chosen for fact-checking. We also have a policy that none of our members of the fact check team should officially be involved with any political or advocacy group.