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ABC returns Fact Check news service in partnership with RMIT

NewsKevin Perry

RMIT University and ABC News have partnered to relaunch news service Fact Check, to be based in Melbourne at the University’s Media Precinct.

From March, RMIT ABC Fact Check will once again test and adjudicate on the accuracy of claims made by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in public debate.

The ABC made the decision to shutdown the original Fact Check program last year after the Federal Government made the decision not to renew an additional funding program for ABC News.

RMIT ABC Fact Check will research and publish Fact Checks, Fact Files and restart the Promise Tracker. Content will be published through the ABC’s Digital platforms and a dedicated RMIT portal.

It will be headed by Director Russell Skelton, a Walkley Award-winning journalist who founded and ran the original ABC Fact Check from 2013 until mid-2016.

RMIT will also appoint a Senior Editor and Fact Check Researchers, along with interns drawn from RMIT journalism students and alumni. Journalism academic staff will also work with the Fact Check team to research the emergence and value of Fact Check journalism in today’s media landscape.

The assembled RMIT ABC Fact Check team will be an anchor tenant in the new RMIT Media Precinct, a studio, teaching and production facility opening in March.

The ABC will retain final editorial control of, and responsibility for, all Fact Check content published by the ABC. Content will be subject to all the ABC’s Editorial Policies and its normal complaints handling procedures.

Dean of the School of Media and Communication, Professor Martyn Hook, said the nonpartisan, non-profit collaboration aimed to reduce the levels of deception and confusion around public policy issues and debates.

“This partnership with the ABC builds on RMIT’s reputation for producing journalism graduates with integrity, credibility and commitment to the highest standard and principles of media practice,” Hook said.
“In a time of ‘post-truth’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, it is ever more critical to hold public figures to account and ensure that public discourse – the basis of democracy – is based in fact.
“RMIT is thrilled to join with the ABC to relaunch Fact Check and support this crucial public service.”

ABC Director of News Gaven Morris said the innovative partnership would bring great value to audiences.

“ABC News is delighted to be able to work with the academic community, as well as other groups and institutions, in this way,” he said. “Sharing resources, and collaborating on analysis and original research, helps us better serve the broadest possible audience.
“Fact-check journalism is a great way of providing more of the essential context people need to help them fully understand the major stories and important issues of the day.”