When did your organization launch and why?
The Factual is a recent rebranding of OwlFactor, which began in 2016. The founders, Arjun and Ajoy, are both news geeks and love reading and talking about the news. We saw that many people had a negative impression of the news and wondered what the point was anymore. So we thought giving people a way to “take action” after reading the news would make it more worthwhile. But then we discovered that people weren’t ready to take action because they weren’t even sure if they knew enough about the issue. So, we decided that the best way to tackle this issue was by writing an algorithm, because the volume of news was overwhelming and we needed a scalable way to find the most informative and credible articles on any topic. That’s the genesis of The Factual.
Most media outlets have some kind of bias, conscious or unconscious, which people are increasingly recognizing and getting frustrated with. The Factual curates multiple viewpoints across the political spectrum allowing users to get a multifaceted story. Each of these viewpoints are selected based on four criteria: objective tone, author expertise, site experience, and range of sources. This means The Factual’s story selection criteria is consistent, and more transparent, than most news outlets.
What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?
The Factual has a free daily email newsletter that curates and disseminates the most credible stories from across the political spectrum on trending topics. Our goal is to make it easy for people to be well-informed and receive a diversity of news to build greater trust and transparency. The Factual believes that the best news enlightens us, brings us together, and improves our communities.
What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?
The Factual’s credibility algorithm is unique and core to our value. Every day, The Factual grades 10,000+ articles on four dimensions:
- Diversity and quality of sources
- Neutral tone of writing
- Author topical expertise
- Site reputation
The result is a fine-grained and transparent way of grading news credibility which no other organization does.
What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?
The Factual’s daily email newsletter is the simplest and fastest way to stay well-informed during this crucial time.
For folks who often get news on Whatsapp or through friends, check out IsThisCredible.com where you can where you can evaluate the credibility of news articles or find the most credible stories on any search topic.
For folks who like to get news on the web, you can see the most credible stories on trending news topics live at any time.
Finally, we have a scholarship contest for high school students and undergraduates to write an essay on media literacy.
What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?
Most people who have some media literacy training are capable of evaluating media credibility if given sufficient time. But with countless news sources and stories in our social media feeds and search results we simply don’t have time to evaluate it all. So The Factual provides tools to simplify this assessment and make media literacy guidelines easier to follow.
Why is media literacy important to your organization?
The Factual’s mission is to deliver a diversity of news with greater trust and transparency. The more media literate the public is, the more prepared they’ll be to engage in the conversations that progress us forward as a society.