April 20, 2023

Fact-checking organizations ramped up their budgets and diversified their focus in 2022, according to a new report that surveyed 93 verified signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter.

The 2022 State of the Fact-Checkers Report by the IFCN underscores a critical shift in budgets, with more organizations operating with heftier financial resources, allowing them to address misinformation more effectively.

The report finds that the proportion of organizations with budgets exceeding $500,000 swelled to 24.7%, while those with budgets up to $20,000 plummeted to 9.7%.

Reflecting on the report’s findings, Ferdi Özsoy, interim director of the IFCN, said, “The increase in budgets demonstrates the fact-checking community’s steadfast dedication to preserving truth and accuracy amid the growing prevalence of misinformation in today’s world.”

The 2022 budgets of surveyed verified signatories of IFCN’s Code of Principles. (IFCN)

The study further reveals the expanding reach of fact-checking organizations, which now tackle misinformation across various public interest topics that extend beyond their original areas of expertise.

It shows that 94.6% of the organizations address political and social issues, 88.2% examine economic claims and 96.8% debunk health misinformation.

Fact-checking organizations predominantly rely on compact teams, with 37.6% employing one to five full-time staff members and 48.4% engaging one to five part-time workers. The report shows that 74.2% of surveyed initiatives have no continuous volunteers, suggesting that few fact-checkers exploit extensive nonpaid support.

“The fact-checking landscape’s evolving demands require organizations to strategically invest their resources in both skilled staff and new technology to maximize their efficacy in fighting misinformation,” Özsoy said.

Meta’s Third Party Fact-Checking Program remains the foremost funding source for fact-checking organizations, contributing 45.2% of their total income. Grants constituted 29% of funding, while donations or membership subscriptions made up 6.5%. A novel fact-checking collaboration with TikTok emerged as a funding source for several organizations in 2022.

Some of the leading income sources for fact-checking organizations. (IFCN)

The report emphasizes the need to diversify funding sources for fact-checking organizations to reduce dependence on major technology grants and foster community-driven support. It suggests broadening partnerships with more tech companies, platforms, stakeholders, academic institutions and media organizations to secure additional resources while leveraging collective expertise.

It shows that amid escalating budgets and a broader scope of addressed misinformation, fact-checking organizations have displayed a capability to adapt and react to the ever-changing landscape of misinformation.

Despite recent budget cuts and workforce reductions at leading technology companies, fact-checking organizations have not yet seen a decline in partnerships or grants from organizations like Meta and Google. However, if this trend continues, the landscape may change, with budgets for combating misinformation potentially being reduced. Fact-checkers that heavily depend on revenue from partnerships with these industry giants might have to make significant adjustments.

The International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter was established in 2015 to connect the emerging community of fact-checkers worldwide and support factual information in the global battle against false information. Read the 2022 State of the Fact-Checkers Report here.

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Enock Nyariki is the community and impact manager of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute. He previously was news editor and managing…
Enock Nyariki

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