Methodology

Truthmeter provides analyses of the Election Programmes of the political parties through which the citizens could get insight into the activities and the results achieved in the mandate by the party they voted for. Truthmeter also analyses the fulfillment of the election promises and the accuracy of the statements politicians give.

 

(FACT-CHECKING) Statements of elected and appointed officials 

Truthmeter.mk’s team of experts in relevant areas analyzes the statements of politicians, officials and other policy creators and public opinion makers and presents them in an easy-to-read, aggregated form.

The main purpose of Truthmeter.mk is to increase the knowledge of citizens, media, nongovernmental organizations as well as political parties and members thereof, and it offers the possibility for familiarizing with series of aspects of the Macedonian political process.

Assessments

The statements of politicians, officials or other policy creators and public opinion makers made in the media or at public events are analyzed by using the same criteria and within the deadline implicated in the statement itself, which are then assessed as follows:

  • Untrue: the statement is untrue
  • Half-true: the statement is correct, but it lacks important details or it is out of the context
  • True: the statement is true
  • Inconsistent: the statement is illogical or it cannot be checked

Criteria for selection and fact-check

The basic criteria that are taken into account when selecting a statement for a fact-check are the following:

  • Does the fact-check have the capacity to spark off a public debate on the topic in question;
  • What’s the position and influence of the politician whose statement is fact-checked;
  • What’s the importance of the statement as regards its influence and whether it affects a large number of citizens;
  • How often the specific official’s statements are checked;
  • What’s the type and size of coverage in the media (whether it is covered by a larger number of media, whether it had been previously analyzed elsewhere and whether it had reached wider audience or not);
  • How much can Truthmeter contribute with new information and arguments when doing the fact-check;
  • Had the statement in question been presented to the public by multiple media, had it triggered interest and is it a topic with the capacity to reach wider audience; 

Originality of statements

Truthmeter always strives to analyze original statements, i.e. ones available in the form of video, while the second place is reserved for the ones in audio format. This contributes to the analyzed statement’s accuracy and helps reduce any possible transcription errors. If there are no video or audio files of a statement, we then resort to transcribed statements. These statements are then fact-checked in as many sources as possible, so the most accurate transcription could be used. From time to time, Truthmeter analyzes statements of political parties given in their press releases. In such case, the said press releases are taken directly from the political party’s website.

Citing sources

All sources used in the fact-check are listed at the end of every analysis. Hence the readers can quickly see the cited sources and can use them to replicate our fact-checks, if they wish to do so. Apart from citing the sources, the date when each of the sources had been accessed is also included, thus readers know when the sources had been accessed.

Besides listing the sources at the end of each article, we also insert links in the article itself, so the readers can open them while reading if needed.

All quotes are marked differently in the text. They are bolded, therefore easily noticeable. This goes for the statements as well as quoted documents. These are crucial segments of our fact-check, so we want to make them easily noticeable for the readers.

In cases when sources want to remain anonymous, we do everything we can to describe their background as much as possible. But generally, we rarely use anonymous sources and such sources are never the only ones in the analysis. There must always be clearly named sources in the analysis besides them.

Conflict of interest

Each case of conflict of interest, if any, is clearly stated on the spot.

Manner of publishing the statements

The analyzed statements, downloaded from written sources in Truthmeter’s analyses, are published in their original form, without intervening in the language, grammar and sense. As for the remaining text in the article, it is, of course, proofread. The statements are published in their original form, together with any mistakes and characteristics so the readers can get the real image about their look, sound, manner of publication and original content.

Promises

The promises given in the Election Programmes are considered as separate entities on truthmeter.mk. In order to gain such status, the promise from the programme must include:

  • specific goals – results that the party intends to achieve after coming to/staying in power, as well as
  • measures – activities necessary to achieve the goal.

The promises with specific goals clearly state what the desired result is and enable the voter to clearly recognize when that result is achieved. It means that the expected result should be described in a clear, precise and unambiguous manner, with clearly determined parameters i.e. indicators that are the grounds for measuring the fulfillment of the promise. Precise parameters are those elements of the promise which clearly determine the essential properties (quantity, quality and comprising elements) of the set goal, which have to be satisfied in order to declare the goal fulfilled. Such parameters depend on the nature of the promise and can comprise:

  • Starting and ending magnitudes: if growth is promised in a certain area – precise parameters for the desired growth rates and development in reference to the current situation; the parameters comprise specific sums/percentages when it comes to promises from the financial scopes.
  • If qualitative improvements are promised in a certain area, the parameters must elaborate the promised progress in reference to the current situation. If the promised changes are not empirically measurable (i.e. by numbers (wider policies and strategies, social climate, culture, systems of value, international cooperation), then the parameters must include detailed descriptions of the expected changes with specific short term and long term measures.
  • Institutional parameters – if the promises are related to the legal frameworks, they should particularize the legislative acts, which will help the voter see what changes are being made, to what extent and through which acts. In the case of establishing new institutions, the parameters must detail their level and competences.
  • Pinpointing the mechanisms for monitoring and controlling the indicators of the implementation of the promises, unless that is already covered with the existing institutional mechanisms.
  • Parameters for determining the timeframe for the fulfillment of the promises.

The specific measures represent activities carried out by the promise giver in order to fulfill the given promise, via specific parameters showing that the set goal is be met. Regarding the goal itself, the activities can include:

  • Precise legal framework that will regulate the given area or problem
  • Announcement of a study/research, strategies, plans that will provide the promised result
  • Origin and amount of the resources that would secure the fulfillment of the goal
  • Deadlines for completion of the announced measures
  • Identifying the existing or announcing the establishment of new competent institutions which would implement the stated activities
  • Pinpointing the mechanisms for monitoring the implementation
  • Other activities that should be undertaken in order to fulfill the promise.

The promises which are illogical or given in a way that cannot be checked are marked as inconsistent.

Every identified promise is assessed by its level of fulfillment: fulfilled, partially fulfilled or unfulfilled:

  • Unfulfilled: If there is no activity regarding the given promise, i.e. there is nothing implemented within the deadline
  • Partially fulfilled: several activities are taken to fulfill the promise
  • Fulfilled: the promise is completely fulfilled
  • In progress: the work on the fulfillment of the promise has been started
  • Inconsistent: illogical promise or one that cannot be checked

The analyses and assessments of the promises are published on the Internet, and if possible, are also delivered to the parties. The promise givers, as well as the entire public, have to opportunity to read and to directly respond to all analyses, to file denials, to give remarks, suggestions and additional information and arguments that can lead to modification of the assessment of the promise, either by commenting under the article or by other forms of direct communication with the analyst team.