Source: Authors: Lucas Graves and Federica Cherubini

The landscape of fact-checking outlets in Europe is remarkably diverse and fast-changing. By the end of 2010 fact-checkers were active in ten countries. In all, more than 50 dedicated factchecking outlets have launched across Europe over the past decade, though roughly a third of those have closed their doors or operate only occasionally. Many European fact-checking outlets are attached to established news organizations but a majority (more than 60%)  are not, operating either as independent ventures or as projects of a civil society organization. Some reject the label of journalism altogether, and see fact-checking as a vehicle for political and media reform.

Today at least 34 permanent sources of political fact-checking are active in 20 different European countries, from Ireland to Turkey. They can be found on every part of the continent, including the Nordic countries, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet republics. In addition, fact-checking as a genre is sufficiently well established that many news outlets without dedicated teams offer it on an ad hoc basis, for instance during major political campaigns.

The landscape defies easy categorization. Almost all of the outlets focus on investigating claims by political figures, but several also target the news media. The fact-checkers themselves come from a range of backgrounds, including journalism but also political science, economics, law, public policy, and various forms of activism. In terms of their mission and their methods, fact-checking outlets occupy a spectrum between reporters, concerned mainly with providing information to citizens, and reformers, focused on promoting institutional development or change in politics and/or the news media. A third, overlapping category includes organizations which have cultivated a role as independent experts, along the lines of a think tank. At the outset, however, it is important to differentiate outlets based in a larger newsroom from those that are not, a distinction that lines up roughly with regional variations. In general, political fact-checking in the North and West of Europe has been led by legacy newsrooms, joined by a handful of independent outlets. In the East and the South, meanwhile, the practice is less a supplement to conventional journalism than an alternative to it, based almost entirely in NGOs and alternative media outlets

The Newsroom Model

While a minority of permanent fact-checkers in Europe are affiliated with an established media company, the legacy news media remain the dominant source of political fact-checking. This is especially true in Western Europe, where national newspapers and broadcasters have incubated the trend and provide its most visible examples. Fact-checkers based in traditional newsrooms have a tremendous natural advantage in terms of reach and resources. But they remain dependent on the editorial interest and financial support of their media parent, and many have lapsed when that support waned. Fact-checking teams attached to media companies can assemble audiences which vastly exceed the reach of most independent fact-checkers. This is particularly true for the handful attached to successful broadcasters. Just as important, established broadcast and print media operations normally command impressive traffic online. In contrast, many independent fact-checking ventures report monthly unique visitors in the thousands or tens of thousands. A second key advantage is the ability to draw on the editorial resources and infrastructure of a larger news-gathering operation. A number of newsrooms have made impressive commitments to fact-checking.

Smaller and episodic fact-checking ventures also benefit from the infrastructure of an established newsroom. Existing news outlets can enter the field quickly and at relatively low cost.

The NGO Model

Most permanent fact-checking outlets operate outside of traditional newsrooms. Independent and NGO-backed sites are the norm across Eastern Europe, although notable examples also exist in the UK and Italy, for instance. These organizations typically partner with news outlets, and most employ some reporters, but they lack the dedicated editorial resources and reliable audiences that fact-checkers based in media companies can count on. At the same time, independent fact-checking outlets are free of the editorial and business constraints of established media firms and many have proved quite durable. Many such outlets are projects of established NGOs concerned broadly with strengthening democratic institutions.

Other outlets are completely independent or housed in a purpose-built charity or NGO.  

Mission and Identity

Arraying fact-checkers according to organizational ties helps to shed light on a diverse landscape. Outlets attached to established news organizations enjoy a distinct advantage in reaching wide audiences cost-effectively. However, some smaller, independent groups also identify as news outlets. Meanwhile, wide contrasts in the media and political environments in which fact-checkers operate affect how they understand and perform their work. In terms of mission and identity, fact-checkers in Europe can usefully be divided into three categories: reporters, reformers, and experts. These ideal types overlap in practice, and how practitioners describe their work may vary even within the same organization. But these three categories offer a useful lens for understanding how fact-checking challenges traditional views of professional journalism.

Reporters: Practitioners in this category, whether based in a traditional newsroom or not, see themselves mainly as journalists and describe the mission of fact-checking in journalistic terms, as a vehicle to inform the public. Fact-checkers in this core journalistic group see the job as mainly explanatory, and may be wary of the activist spirit sometimes associated with the enterprise. At established news organizations fact-checking is often tied to data journalism efforts.

  1. Reformers: The second category, reformers, describes outlets which understand fact-checking primarily in activist terms, as part of an agenda of political reform. These outlets may tie fact-checking quite closely to other programs and sometimes use it to promote specific policy changes. Many openly embrace an activist identity.
  2. Experts: The third category, experts, is the most difficult to define with sharp boundaries. All dedicated fact-checking organizations seek to establish themselves as authoritative sources of information on often complex areas of public policy. However, the label helps to set apart outlets which place a particular emphasis on their own domain expertise or distinctive methodology, positioning themselves as something like a think tank rather than as journalists or campaigners. Many of the parent NGOs of fact-checking outlets rely on legal, economic, and policy experts in pursuing political or policy reform.


Note: Some of the organizations listed may not be currently active


  • Mimikama






  • Faktabaari


  • Desintox
  • Facta Media
  • Le Veritometre
  • Le Vrai du Faux
  • Les Décodeurs
  • Factuel
  • CaptainFact
  • Les Pinocchios


  • Faktomat
  • Münchhausen-check
  • ZDFcheck




  • iDemagog


  • Pagella Politica
  • CivilLinks Fact Checking
  • Politicometro


  • FHJ Factcheck
  • Nieuwscheckers


  • Demagog
  • Obywatele Rozliczaia




  • Demagog


  • Newtral
  • El Objectivo
  • Verdad/Mentira


  • Faktakoll Blog
  • Livekollen

United Kingdom

  • BBC Reality Check
  • Full Fact
  • FactCheckNI (Northern Ireland)
  • Guardian Reality Check
  • The FactCheck Blog
  • FerretFact Service (Scotland)


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