Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University
Scientists are fighting disinformation and misinformation about health and politics, with a view to enhancing the quality of public debate and news coverage. With their factchecks, the members of the News Checkers team correct false and misleading public claims, including about health, working on the basis of scientific studies and interviews with researchers. Their fact checks explain how science actually works.
They are published on the team members’ own websites and via social media, newsletters, popularising publications, textbooks, interviews in the news media, workshops, consultations, public lectures (such as at the Leiden Museum Night or the 3 October University), with the members’ students also playing a role. In this way, they reach journalists, students, policymakers, civil-society organisations, news consumers (i.e. the general public), and voters in the Netherlands and Flanders. Journalists can then, in turn, reach a wider audience. The team has also helped develop Factrank.org., a tool that automatically detects check-worthy statements by Dutch and Flemish politicians in tweets, parliamentary debates, and talk shows.
The demand for fact-checking has risen sharply in recent years. The grant from the Rewarded! Fund will make it possible to take on student assistants – for example as web and newsletter editors – to facilitate the work that the team has so far been carrying out with only minimal resources.
Peter Burger, universitair docent
Other group members:
Michaël Opgenhaffen, universitair docent
Alexander Pleijter, universitair docent