EMIF approves projects in 6 European countries

The European Media and Information Fund announces the results of the second funding round of the “Boosting Fact-checking Activities in Europe” Call for Proposals. This Call for Proposals is permanently open and was launched on 2 November 2021. It had its second cut-off date on 30 June 2022.

8 projects approved on 15 September with a total funding of €546,566.02 will work on topics including climate change, the Ukrainian war, fact-checking poddcasts, and corruption cases on social networks and disinformation media.

The approved projects will cover multiple linguistic communities and are based in 6 countries: United Kingdom, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, France, and the Czech Republic.

The following projects were approved:

Fact-Checking to Improve Media Coverage of the Arctic in Europe – Polar Research and Policy Initiative Limited

The Fact-Checking to Improve Media Coverage of the Arctic in Europe project by Polar Research and Policy Initiative (United Kingdom) will promote greater understanding of the Arctic within the spheres of policy, industry, civil society, media and the general public through more accurate and more nuanced reporting. It will achieve this by bringing together subject matter experts, fact checkers, researchers, journalists, and Indigenous and Northern voices within the scope of three main activities aimed at improving media coverage of the Arctic in Europe through fact-checking. First, it will publish fact-checked content about the Arctic through its own digital platform The Polar Connection, the world’s largest platform for Arctic analysis and commentary and the first port of call for news outlets seeking stories from the Arctic. Second, it will provide fact-checking services as well as fact-checked content for the entire gamut of regional Arctic media outlets, including its partner platforms Arctic Today and Arctic Business Journal. Third, it will organise media literacy initiatives, such as providing media briefings, a media hotline, as well as virtual seminars, for European and international media outlets seeking to fact-check news stories, verify details or request analysis about the Arctic prior to publication. The project will also involve training local residents across the Arctic to report or fact-check news stories that concern their region, and recruiting more Russian speakers and Russian subject matter experts in Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as Russia, to verify stories and photographs.

 

Fact checking the Ukrainian War in the Black Sea Region – Expert Forum Association

Our project’s main aim is creating a more resilient and fact-based digital information ecosystem in the context of the Ukrainian war. We are at a unique time in our history where our borders are digitally invaded by huge volumes of propaganda and disinformation narratives that remain undebunked in the public opinion. Our main focus will be the Black Sea Region, mainly Romania and Moldova with a focus on the Ukraine conflict. We will publish a final report based on our findings, with main narratives, impact of debunked content an findings at an European level event in Brussels, we will create trainings for NGO’s and high school students tailored to their needs.
With this project we are one of the first initiatives in the region that has an integrative approach in tackling the current challenges in the disinformation sector, involving direct propaganda narratives and the disinformation around hot topics such as the energy crisis.Expert Forum (EFOR) is a Bucharest based think tank, set up by well-known experts in public policy and public governance reform in 2011.In the disinformation sector we are in close contact with a network of experts from Eastern Europe and Central Europe in order to create a standardized approach regarding common challenges and exchange best practices.

 

Scale-up Science Fact-Checking in Spanish Podcasts and Youtube – Association Verificat

Detecting audio and video misinformation remains a difficult challenge among fact-checkers. Yet, hundreds of millions of people worldwide listen to podcasts and watch videos on streaming every day. Audiovisuals are a central source of information for people spanning across different regions and demographics, covering a vast array of issues and having a direct impact on public opinion. Podcasting in Spain has skyrocketed as reflected in data and surveys that place it as one of the countries in the world where podcasts have the most listeners. Science-related podcasts have increased their audience by 569%, while health and fitness-related by 343%. On the other hand, YouTube penetration in Spain is estimated at around 91.6% of the population in 2021. Nonetheless, Spanish fact-checkers, as well as other fact-checkers, still do not have enough tools to undertake systematic audio and video fact-checking in an efficient way. The project aims to serve as a pilot on how fact-checkers can integrate AI and speech-to-text technologies such as the Kinzen’s dashboard to speed up this project. It’s an 8-months long deep-dive into in the realms of YouTube and podcasting aiming to understand its disinformation narratives, expand the scope of our fact-checking outside the traditional channels, and pilot innovative forms of collaboration between fact-checkers and state-of-the-art technology providers that can be replicated and exported to other countries. “Scaling up Science Fact-checking in Podcasts and Videos” expands Verificat and Kinzen ongoing collaboration on climate misinformation in podcasting into other scientific issues, with a special focus on nutrition and fitness, health and energy, and expands the scope of the collaboration to Youtube channels. Thanks to this project, an additional 2.500 hours of podcasting and up to 5.000 hours of YouTube video will be monitored and fact-checked and thus increasing our understanding of dis- and misinformation in audio and video in Spain.

 

Tackling false narratives in anti-corruption and the rule of law media reporting – Transparency International Slovakia

The year 2018 was a fundamental turning point in Slovakia. The murders of journalist J. Kuciak and his fiancée M. Kušnírová shifted the public debate focus towards topics such as the fight against corruption, “state capture”, strengthening the rule of law and independence of institutions. At the same time, false narratives about foreign-driven interference began to appear. Anti-systemic politicians (some directly linked to the corruption cases) and the so-called alternative media immediately started to promote fake news and propaganda and to undermine the police investigation of corruption cases with narratives about fabricated evidence motivated by revenge.
TI SK, a leading anti-corruption organisation, and the experienced fact-checkers from Infosecurity.sk join their forces in the consortium to tackle false narratives in anti-corruption and state capture media reporting. This consortium strongly believes in equal treatment of all politicians and actors of public debate and shares a view that the aforesaid relativism in the way corruption is perceived, as well as obstacles to the rule of law and threats to the independence of institutions, show a very dangerous trend. This leads to the assessment that proper fact-checks and information campaigns are necessary to preserve and increase trust in democratic institutions.
The project will uniquely interconnect critical topics of the rule of law and disinformation in Slovakia. Over the project’s lifetime, the Consortium will publish 2 analyses on how mainstream and fake-news portals inform about corruption cases and the rule of law issues, including a visualisation of the analysed data using advanced tools. The consortium will also focus on real-time fact-checking content related to corruption cases on social networks and disinformation media. Events on media literacy and the fight against disinformation will be organised as well as a roundtable with stakeholders. The project will collect, analyse, and publish data from 2 public opinion polls, and 10 podcast episodes on the project-related topics will be created.

 

SciNet – Network Analysis Tool to automatically rate web domains on their scientific credibility – Science Feedback

The vastness of the online information space and its fragmentation across countries and languages make a manual evaluation of each domain’s risk of carrying misinformation impossible. While high-profile outlets which repeatedly publish or amplify misinformation might be well-identified by teams specialized in source evaluation, countless smaller ones fly below the radar. This is especially true for websites publishing in lesser-spoken languages across the EU.Yet, these websites matter: misinformation researchers might want to track what messages they are carrying, social media platforms might want to inform their users of the risk of misinformation before they share a link, brands might not want their ads to appear on those websites. The sheer volume of the task of evaluating tens or hundreds of thousands of websites across the EU’s 27 countries and 24 official languages means it cannot be done by humans alone. The SCENT (Scientific Credibility Evaluation NeTwork) project aims to fill this gap. First, our trained scientists will manually review websites and evaluate the risk that they carry misinformation. This data will then be used to train AI algorithms capable of automating this evaluation, so as to provide the volume needed to make a difference at Internet-scale. The end result will be a list of tens or hundreds of thousands of websites across all EU languages, with a misinformation risk assessment estimate attached to each. A portion of them will have been rated by our human experts, but the majority will have been rated by our AI tool.

 

Czech Elections in the Era of Disinformation: The 2023 Presidential Election – Prague Security Studies Institute

The vastness of the online information space and its fragmentation across countries and languages make a manual evaluation of each domain’s risk of carrying misinformation impossible. While high-profile outlets which repeatedly publish or amplify misinformation might be well-identified by teams specialized in source evaluation, countless smaller ones fly below the radar. This is especially true for websites publishing in lesser-spoken languages across the EU.Yet, these websites matter: misinformation researchers might want to track what messages they are carrying, social media platforms might want to inform their users of the risk of misinformation before they share a link, brands might not want their ads to appear on those websites. The sheer volume of the task of evaluating tens or hundreds of thousands of websites across the EU’s 27 countries and 24 official languages means it cannot be done by humans alone. The SCENT (Scientific Credibility Evaluation NeTwork) project aims to fill this gap. First, our trained scientists will manually review websites and evaluate the risk that they carry misinformation. This data will then be used to train AI algorithms capable of automating this evaluation, so as to provide the volume needed to make a difference at Internet-scale. The end result will be a list of tens or hundreds of thousands of websites across all EU languages, with a misinformation risk assessment estimate attached to each. A portion of them will have been rated by our human experts, but the majority will have been rated by our AI tool.
“Our project “Czech Elections in the Era of Disinformation: The 2023 Presidential Election” aims to boost fact-checking activities in the Czech Republic in order to counter disinformation which is expected to be triggered by the Czech presidential elections planned for January 2023. To reach this goal, the Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI) will join forces with the fact-checking capabilities of Demagog.cz and HlídacíPes.org. The consortium will be monitoring the Czech online space, including social media of official and potential presidential candidates, mainstream media and media known for spreading disinformation. In the Czech Republic, this media has a collaborative relationship with the national-conservative opposition and there is expected information exploitation especially of the topics of the energy crisis and immigration related to the war in Ukraine, as well as manipulation targeting the “pro-Wester, pro-democratic” candidates.

Demagog.cz and HlídacíPes.org will produce regular fact-checks of information related to the elections and the candidates in the form of short blog posts and related social media posts, aimed at the general public and relevant stakeholders. PSSI will provide monthly analytical reports aimed at state institutions, media and the expert community. The consortium will publish a big analytical report that will include the overall coverage of the elections, main narratives, approach and sentiments to individual candidates, the candidates’ reactions/counter-messaging, disinformation campaigns, main spreaders of the narratives/disinformation and their background, and a policy chapter with an overview of the government’s approach to countering elections-related disinformation in the recent years, as well as recommendations. A short analytical report will be published after the second round of the elections. We will also organize a public roundtable to present our findings to government institutions, media and the expert community.

 

FAST: Fact-checkers acting to stop early-detected disinformation campaigns – Maldita.es Foundation Against Disinformation

FAST is a disinformation early warning and response system for fact-checking organizations that combines cutting edge technological tools with innovative workflow approaches to debunking and dissemination. Bringing together a leading fact-checker Maldita.es, and the Spanish news agency Servimedia, the system aims to enhance the efficiency and impact of debunking and prebunking responses to reduce the spread and prevent the viralization of disinformation campaigns emerging in crisis situations or relating to climate, gender and migration.
With fact-checking organizations under heightened pressure to develop quicker and more impactful responses, this project will scale-up and accelerate the debunking and prebunking capacities of Maldita.es with a new early detection algorithm and alerts service that will automate the identification of emerging disinformation campaigns. Combined with an emergency task force of specialized journalists, engineers, and community builders operating under a novel and innovative workflow, this tool will transform the agility of our fact-checking responses in crisis situations while maintaining their quality. In collaboration with Servimedia, the debunked content will then be disseminated via a multiplatform strategy that will draw on both organizations extensive reach within the fact-checking and traditional media environments, and Spanish-speaking publics.
Augmenting the speed, reach, and impact of Maldita.es’ debunked content, FAST will enhance our capacities to tackle disinformation before it viralizes on public social media, whilst amplifying fact-checked publications in the traditional media. Preemptively confronting disinformation, FAST will significantly mitigate its impact and ensure citizens are able to face crises or contentious issues equipped with accurate and reliable information. Ultimately, FAST is envisioned as a model for early response fact-checking to advance the development of more efficient fact-checking in Europe.

 

FactBoost: Strengthening the fact-checking skills of journalists – Eurocommunication

“Creating and developing fact-checking skills for journalists is vital for a healthy democracy.
Our project aims to support the dissemination of fact-checking skills by building a European network where experts, via digital materials, online events, and activities can share best practices with journalists.
The project wants to answer three questions: “”What is the status quo of fact-checking skills in Romania?””, “”What can we do to develop those skills in journalists and media experts?”” and “”How can we make it easily accessible, insightful, and scalable?””.
To support the first objective, the project team will conduct exploratory research on the industry’s current state regarding fact-checking capabilities, techniques, methodologies, and tools used to provide relevant outputs.
Journalists will be encouraged to develop their fact-checking skills within the network of European experts, through webinars, workshops, tutorials, educational materials, newsletters, and innovative methodological frameworks. Implementation will take place through a website designed to offer the target audience personalized content and multiple opportunities to engage with other media experts, journalists, and fact-checkers. This process of knowledge sharing will not only improve the ability of journalists to write accurate materials but also offer fact-checkers more instances to exercise their methodologies and make their efforts more visible.
All the materials will be free of charge, periodically updated, and organized on a web platform, open to experts and the public.
The project “FactBoost: Strengthening the fact-checking skills of journalists” aims to deliver information, insights, and reports targeted to the different needs of critical groups. Creating an inspired community is one of our main aspirations. We intend to stimulate the creation of knowledge exchange and valuable collaborations between industries.”

 

The ongoing funding round of the Call “Boosting Fact-Checking Activities in Europe” is open until 31 October 2022.

Updated on 12 october 2022

Cookies settings

Cookies Selection

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation uses cookies to improve your browsing experience, security, and its website performance. The Foundation may also use cookies to share information on social media and to display messages and advertisements personalised to your interests, both on our website and in others.