Meet the 'FactCheckers' - Q&A with Founding Editor, Louise Evans

With a reputation for being relentless in their pursuit of the truth, the "FactCheckers" are already making waves in the political world and have uncovered many false statements from Australia's top public figures. Founding editor, Louise Evans, tells us about FactCheck and its role within Australia's media and political landscape ahead of the next federal election.

As a journalist you would have fact checked many claims during your career, how is this different?

The AAP FactCheck process is more rigorous than anything I have done during my 30 years in mainstream journalism. We take a direct quote from a public figure and break it down, checking every single fact and referencing every check against published reports and data. During the course of the NSW and federal elections, we are publishing at least one FactCheck per day both on the AAP newswire and on a bespoke website

What are the criteria to select the claims that are being fact checked?

It has to be a direct quote from a public figure published in the Australian news media. The subject matter has to be in the public interest and cannot be opinion or commentary. 

Why does Australia need a FactCheck unit? And why is AAP the right home for it?

In an era of fake news, it's important that statements made by public figures can be subject to a comprehensive and unbiased FactCheck audit. The very existence of FactCheck may help encourage public figures to be more accountable and check their facts before making announcements. AAP is the right home for FactCheck because it is Australia's trusted, independent national 24/7 newswire service known for its fast, accurate and unbiased content.

Can you give an example of a memorable FactCheck?

During the NSW State election both the Labor Party and the Premier Gladys Berejiklian made claims about the cost of power bills. Labor claimed NSW had the most expensive power bills in the developed world. The Premier claimed NSW had the cheapest power bills in Australia. Both claims were false. NSW has neither the most expensive nor the cheapest power bills in Australia let alone the developed world.

 The AAP FactCheck team is made up of highly experienced journalists based in both Sydney and Brisbane. (L - R) Louise Evans, Brian Kelly and James Lane. Image credit/James Dore

Are you getting reactions from politicians due to their claims being scrutinised?

Yes. When we ring politicians to ask them for the source of their statement they say "You're those FactCheckers aren't you." They may not love us but they respect the process. They are either quick to respond or they never get back to us.  Those who don't get back to us tend to be those whose statements are false. 

People can submit claim suggestions, will these suggestions be selected by the team?

We welcome submissions. Yes, they will be selected if they meet the FactCheck criteria.


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AAP FactCheck is supported by Google News Initiative but retains full editorial independence.


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