Brazilian fact checkers join forces for live analysis of debate between mayoral candidates in Rio de Janeiro

Following the lead of other fact-checking collaborations in the region, four Brazilian fact-checking projects will harness their collective experiences and talents to analyze an upcoming debate between the two remaining candidates for mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

The Oct. 28 effort is between more than 20 people from fact-checking sites Agência Lupa and Aos Fatos, as well as fact-checking projects Truco, from investigative news site Agência Pública, and Detector de Mentiras (Lie Detector), from civil society organization Meu Rio.

Cristina Tardáguila, director of Agência Lupa and member of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, said she came up with the idea after reading about joint fact-checking efforts.

She had this in mind when Borja Echevarria, vice president and digital editor-in-chief at Miami-based network Univision, asked her to join its team and a group of 10 other journalists from Latin America to fact-check the final U.S. presidential debate on Oct. 19. After that call, she decided Agência Lupa would replicate the process in Rio when she returned.

Tardáguila’s trip to Miami, which became a chance for her to both contribute and learn, was proof that “people from different backgrounds can work together… and they can share experiences in different fields.” Regardless of size, media organizations big and small can exchange new and innovative ideas.

When Tardáguila returned to Rio, she first contacted Agência Pública and got their Truco team on board. The sites decided to make the group even bigger and reached out to Meu Rio (My Rio) and Aos Fatos.

“If we can get together and work together so the voters get the best information they can, in real time, while watching the candidates on TV or online, that’s what we’re working for,” Tardáguila said. “There’s no need for competition in this moment. It’s too important for the city and for the voters to know exactly what is true and what is not in the speeches they give on TV.”

Working for readers and getting them good information quickly is the motivation, she explained. “You become a fact-checker because you want to change things, right? And you become a fact-checker because you want the truth to come out and to spread it.”

The four organizations got together on Oct. 22 to plan how they would fact-check the debate between candidates Marcelo Crivella and Marcelo Freixo in real-time. Fact-checkers will be divided into four teams, Tardáguila explained.

Two teams will be located at Casa Pública, a cultural center set up by Agência Pública earlier this year. One of the teams will work on perfecting transcriptions of the debate; the other will manage and distribute facts and figures to be checked. A third team will be comprised of the fact-checkers and editors located at the offices of each participating organization. And finally, a social media team will work to promote the material on the internet.

Agência Lupa and Meu Rio have worked together to fact-check a previous debate, but this will be the first time that all four organizations collaborate on a project.

Individually, each site has been fact-checking candidates for municipal offices throughout Rio de Janeiro since August, according to a press release announcing the new collaboration.

For Friday, facts will be labeled correct, incorrect, exaggerated or out of context. The results will be shared on each site and on social media using the hashtag #checado.

"The collaboration between media outlets is becoming a pillar of contemporary journalism at the same time as checking in real-time gains global traction. Joining these two phenomena is essential," said Tai Nalon, director of Aos Fatos, according to the release.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.