BOOM is an independent digital journalism initiative. We are India’s premier fact checking website, committed to bring to our readers verified facts rather than opinion. When there is a claim, we will fact check it. We also report on stories and people who are fighting for individual rights, freedom of expression and the right to free speech. And some cool stuff when we are not doing that.
BOOM is a part of Ping Digital Network (www.pingnetwork.in), a private limited company registered in India. Ping is a full-fledged food to living digital video network. BOOM is the news division of the network and has been in existence since 2014 and as a full-fledged fact checking initiative since November 2016.
BOOM is also one of the only two fact checkers in the country (www.factchecker.in also launched by the same founder) and South Asia, that have been certified by the International Fact Checking Network- Poynter Institute. This certification is a reflection of the early steps we took to build a editorially strong independent fact checking website that has strived to debunk fake news and prevent the spread of it.
Here is a link to our certification and the process. https://www.poynter.org/international-fact-checking-network-fact-checkers-code-principles
March 1, 2019 Update: IFCN certification is renewed every year. We have applied for the renewal and the review is currently under process.
1. Select a claim to fact check:
We actively monitor news while keeping an eye on social media, especially public statements of politicians and people in position of authority. We also have a WhatsApp hotline number (7700906111) where readers can send us messages that are viral and need to be fact checked. In addition we also get tagged on Twitter and Facebook by our readers to fact check claims. The claim is selected based on a number of factors for example, is it newsworthy? Does it impact a large number of people? Is the content provocative or sensitive and could potentially cause harm if left unchecked?
2. Trace the source of the claim:
Once we have zeroed in on a claim to fact check, we then look for where the claim originated. Often the source is a crucial starting point in establishing whether a claim is trustworthy or not. For example in case of news stories, we first determine if it is from a reliable site. In case of pictures, we use Google’s Reverse Image Search to decipher whether the image is old or if it has been manipulated in any way or used out of context. In case of single source claims and eye-witness accounts we try to determine if the person making the claim could have access to such information.
3. Contact the source:
In case of claims involving public figures, we reach out to the person concerned or their office to understand their side of the story. We also look for video evidence or publically available transcripts to ascertain what exactly was said and in what context. In case of reports or data points, we contact organisations that have published the reports to understand the context and disclaimers if any.
4. Look for evidence and data to support or knock down a claim:
We look for all publically available resources on the topic including sifting through material previously written on the subject. We search for data within government databases, global think tanks, research firms and other trustworthy sources that could support or debunk a claim. In case we are unable to find data we openly say so.
5. Speak to experts/people in the know:
BOOM does not claim to have expertise on every topic under the sun. More often than not we rely on the knowledge of experts in a particular field. We try and avoid source based stories as far as possible and only quote those who are willing to speak on record.
6. Write a fact check:
We write our stories based on the steps detailed above. We provide links to the sources referred to in our stories. In instances where we are unable to prove or disprove a claim we explicitly say so and list all the steps we have followed.
7. We correct mistakes promptly and openly
BOOM is committed to debunking fake news on a real-time basis. We acknowledge that sometimes we might get it wrong. When we do go wrong, we do not shy away from our mistakes but correct our story promptly and inform our readers about the correction. Stories that have been corrected contain an advisory. BOOM is active on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. We are open to constructive feedback and criticism.
Govindraj Ethiraj is a television & print journalist and also Founder of FactChecker.in, India’s first dedicated policy and data Fact Check initiative. He also anchors seasonal shows on Indian news television – the current one being the weekly `Policy Watch’ on public service broadcaster Rajya Sabha or RS TV. And most recent being BottomLine on Headlines Today – and writes for newspapers like Business Standard.
Previously, he was Founder-Editor in Chief of Bloomberg TV India, a 24-hours business news service launched out of Mumbai in 2008 and a partnership between Bloomberg LLP and the UTV Group in India. Prior to setting up Bloomberg TV India, he worked with Business Standard newspaper as Editor (New Media) with a specific mandate of integrating the newspaper’s news operations with its digital or web platform. He also spent around five years each with CNBC-TV18 & The Economic Times. He is a Fellow of The Aspen Institute, Colorado & a winner of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leadership Awards for 2014.
Jency Jacob is the Managing Editor of BOOM and has worked with some of the top brands across television and print networks in the country. At BOOM, Jency apart from providing editorial leadership to the team, also writes fact checks and opinion pieces on claims made by those in power and social media influencers. Jency is also the co-host of the weekly fact check show Fact Vs Fiction.
Before joining BOOM, Jency was the Senior Editor at Business Standard’s Digital vertical and played a very important role in synergising the print and web operations and scale up the newsroom’s contribution to the web between 2013 to 2016. He has also worked in Mumbai as a city and business reporter and covered major stories in the first decade of this century.
Naveen Nair is Head-Operations at BOOM, overseeing production and execution of daily shows and videos. He leads a team of producers, video journalists and video editors and is responsible for developing a digital strategy and integrating it across multiple media platforms. He is a media professional with over 15 years of experience, worked in media houses such as Network 18, ESPN- Star Sports and currently PING Network.
Karen Rebelo is the Deputy Editor of BOOM and works as an investigative reporter, factchecker and a copy-editor. Her specialization includes spotting and debunking fake images and viral fake videos. Karen is a former Reuters wires journalist and has covered the resources sector in the UK and the Indian stock market and private equity sector. She cut her teeth as a prime-time television producer doing business news shows.
Krutika Kale is BOOM’s video producer and works on stories through intelligent use of images, text and video. She is also the producer of our flagship show Fact Vs Fiction.