‘TRUE OR FALSE’ AND RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM
Faktoje, a fact-checking media service that promotes accountability based on the right to information and transparency, was launched in Albania in May 2018 with full technical support from the USAID-funded Justice for All project (JfA). The overarching goal of Faktoje is to improve public performance standards in Albania and, in less than two years, the platform has become a reliable source of information and set an example of responsible and ethical journalism. Since its establishment, Faktoje has also been acknowledged as the first fact-checking organization in Albania by a Tirana Court decision and become the first media organization in Albania to become a signatory member of the International Fact-Checking Network.
COVID-19 RESPONSE: ACCOUNTABILITY & ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Faktoje’s new website, which was launched on April 2, 2020, includes a dedicated space for COVID-19 updates, including quick access to key data based on official figures from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and a page dedicated to articles focused exclusively on COVID-19. More than 252 relevant articles and 240 infographics have been produced by Faktoje since the introduction of lockdown measures in Albania in March. The COVID-19 related articles cover three main topics: the fact-checking of statements by public officials regarding measures and their implementation; identifying, exposing, and raising awareness about disinformation related to COVID-19 treatments; and the impact of COVID-19 on different sectors, such as education, health, the environment, and tourism. In addition, through a small grant from the US Global Engagement Center, Faktoje was able to support 20 local journalists’ coverage of the impact of COVID-19 in local communities in Albania, which resulted in 35 articles published. Through this activity, the local journalists were able to build their capacities in the methodology of fact-checking, which they were introduced for the first time as part of their engagement with Faktoje. As a result of this qualitative coverage on issues related to the pandemic, Faktoje was able to double its number of views on its website and interactions on social media channels.
Faktoje’s COVID-19 reporting seeks to hold public officials accountable for promises made in relation to measures taken to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and to provide citizens with vital information on protection from the virus by countering disinformation.