South Asia Check is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit initiative by Panos South Asia which aims to promote accuracy and accountability in public debate. We examine statements and claims made by public figures in Nepal and occasionally across South Asia and publish our findings on this site. This is not a finger-pointing exercise, but an attempt to promote transparency, truth and accountability in politics and media in the region.
Panos South Asia is a non-profit media development organization active in South Asia and beyond since 1997.
The fact-checking team is editorially independent.
Fact-checking of statements and claims
We consider statements and/or claims from politicians, government figures (ministers, bureaucrats and diplomats), multilateral agencies and organizations that come out with research or statistics on issues of public importance. Our aim is to first determine the authenticity of such statements through the primary source and then examine the veracity of statements/claims.
Earthquake Reconstruction/Relief Promise Tracker
Parts of Nepal were devastated by the earthquake of April 25 and aftershocks of April 26 and the big one of May 12. The Government of Nepal, foreign governments, I/NGOs, foundations and businessmen and business houses promised to provide relief and help in the rebuilding process. Some have delivered on the promise and some are in the process of doing so. We will keep track of the progress of these promises, for at least until April 25, 2016 – to mark the year of the massive earthquake. We will do this without fear or favor.
In Public Interest
This section deals with stories in public interest. We do not depend on any public statement/claim per se, but these stories are based on information in public domain, be it news, some findings, reports, or published statistics. Besides, we also do stories on a contemporary issue that assumes national significance.
Media ought to play the role of a watchdog and we embrace this idea. Media in South Asia have been doing that, to a large extent. We aim to help media bolster its role as a trusted watchdog. After all, media are our ally. Initially, under this specific exercise, we will keep track of number of anonymous sources that appear in major English and Nepali language broadsheet dailies and weeklies. The work area will expand as the need arises.
Code of Conduct for Fact-checking team
Panos South Asia (PSA) believes in the need to strengthen accountability in politics and journalism in Nepal and across South Asia as an effective way to consolidate democracy.
It is important that public figures be held accountable for what they say and claim. Media, which has such an important role in holding the public figures to account, also displays bias. In some extreme cases, media has misrepresented facts.
Fact-checkers have to be absolutely impartial and non-partisan. So our fact-checkers cannot be members of political parties and political party-affiliated bodies or professional unions. All care must be taken to avoid being seen as prejudiced, biased or carrying an agenda to defame or harm or discriminate against a person or organization.
Fact-checking of statements of public figures and producing investigative stories on topics of public interest are sensitive subjects. Therefore, utmost care should be taken to carry out the task of checking facts and investigation in highest professional standards.
The following is a list of codes. This is updated from time to time and fact-checking team informed about it immediately.
Code of Conduct for Fact-checkers
The following code of conduct must be adhered to at all times by the fact-checking team:
- Undertake fact-checking of statement and claims of public figures* in a fair and objective manner, without fear or favor.
- Should not have and demonstrate any kind of bias in fact-checking work.
- Should not convey any kind of bias or prejudice in social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other such platforms. This is really important to bear in mind.
- Comments of political or ideological in nature on public platform should be avoided.
- Should desist from any kind of hate speech or racial remarks.
- Should not be a full-time employee of any media or other organizations.
- Contributing stories or news to any Nepal-based media is strictly prohibited. However, this does not prevent fact-checkers to participate in any training conducted by media houses or media organizations or even participate as resources persons. [Permission should be sought from the PSA executive director for any contribution to media outside Nepal. But contributions cannot be stories that would qualify to appear on our fact-checking sections, or investigative pieces. Please consult the PSA executive director if there is any doubt on whether a story belongs to fact-checked section of SouthAsiaCheck.org.]
- Be open to suggestions from readers or story ideas suggested by them.
- Accept any criticism or critique of the published pieces and immediately take steps to see if any corrective measures are required. If so, those measures should be taken.
- Try not to make a mistake. However, if a mistake has been detected by the team or pointed out by readers, that mistake should be acknowledged and corrections made. Under no circumstances, the posted piece can be deleted.
*Public figures include the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Justices of Supreme and Appellate court (the two tops courts), Bureaucrats, Diplomats, Businessmen/women, Celebrities (like movie stars, singers, musicians, and so on)
Whenever there is a mistake in our report, we correct it and put an asterisk mark next to the correction and clarify the change at the bottom of the report. However, minor grammatical corrections are made without clarification. So far we have not made any mistake which would change the verdict of the report.
What is fact-checkable and what is not
We fact-check anything from statements made by key figures including elected and unelected officials on mainstream media including radio, television and print media among others, and viral social media posts including photos and potentially fake news. Whenever a statement/issue is identified, our team discusses whether the issue/statement qualifies for fact-checking. With regard to public statements from secondary sources including the mass media, sometimes we contact the individual making such statement if needed. Most of our fact-checks are based on non-partisan information sources including government statistics, books, journals and reputed international agencies.
We don’t fact-check statements that cannot be verified on the basis of publicly available documents/statistics/evidences. Also, we don’t publish the results of fact-check statements/claims that are correct, except for the statements that are against popular belief.
Mainali is the editor of South Asia Check. He has more than 20 years of journalism working in different newsrooms. He is also an accomplished documentary maker and has written several books about Nepal. He was awarded the prestigious Padmashree Literary Prize in 2015 for his latest book ‘Mantha Darayeko Jug’. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mainali is active in journalism for the past nine years. He also works as a lecturer at Kathmandu based Madan Bhandari Memorial College and teaches sociology to the graduate-level students. He holds Masters in Sociology from the Purbanchal University, Nepal. Having keen interest in the social and cultural issues, his articles on social, cultural and historical issues get published in leading Nepali print media periodically. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Panthi has a masters’ degree in international relations and diplomacy from the Tribhuvan University. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. She also teaches post graduate students at the Tribhuvan Uuniversity. Before joining Southasiacheck.org, she worked as a freelance feature writer focusing on women’s issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dhakal has more than fifteen years of experience working in Nepal’s leading newsrooms. He was also the head of the media monitoring project of Panos South Asia between 2012 and 2015. He holds an MBA from the Tribhuvan University. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Digital media consultant
Acharya is a print and online journalist with several years of experience with major newspapers in Kathmandu. He is Nepal’s pioneering blogger and online journalist. He has an MA in journalism from the Tribhuvan University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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