2 November 2012
Africa Check, a fact-checking website devised by the AFP Foundation and run in partnership with the journalism department of the University of the Witwatersrand, was launched in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The first website in Africa set up exclusively to fact-check public debate, www.africacheck.org was launched during a conference on investigative journalism in Africa run by the university.
Modelled on similar sites in the US and Europe, Africa Check aims to hold public figures accounting by “sorting fact from fiction”.
As well as producing its own fact-checking reports, the site provides tips and advice for its readers on how to fact-check, as well as a library of databases and fact-checking tools.
‘Promoting a culture of accuracy’
“I believe that Africa Check can make an important contribution to public discourse by promoting a culture of accuracy and making public figures think twice about playing loose with the facts,” Anton Harber, professor of journalism at Wits University and the former editor of South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, said in a statement.
Harber, who is senior adviser to the project, told AFP that Africa Check would “quite simply follow things that are said in the public arena by politicians or by other media or by experts, and where we think they need checking, we will verify them and we will publish what we find, to say this was true, this was not true, or it was disputed, and here’s how you understand the nature of that dispute”.
According to AFP, while the site is currently managed by project staff at Wits University, it aims to become a forum for interactive contributions by South African journalists.
“Fact-checking is a growing trend in the media, and in wider society, around the world,” said AFP Foundation deputy director Peter Cunliffe-Jones, who devised and oversees the project.
“But to our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has tried to do something like this here in Africa.”