BOOM is an independent digital journalism initiative with a mission to fight misinformation and make the internet safer.
We are India’s premier fact checking website, committed to bring to our readers verified facts rather than opinion. BOOM also writes pro-active fact files which serve to educate readers on key issues they might have questions about. Subjects that BOOM actively fact checks range from political, social, communal and health & medicine to products and services and even history.
Our approach involves a whole bunch of simple technology and tools but the foundation of our work is journalism, classic, old-school and robust. We speak to people, we check and verify and do not publish until and unless we have got formal clarifications on posts or stories where individuals and orgnisations are involved.
BOOM is presently available in three languages, English, Hindi and Bengali with dedicated on ground teams working on all three. BOOM is also available in the form of a daily 20 minute television show on NDTV Hop, a 24 hours live streaming service on app. BOOM also broadcasts daily on Facebook and YouTube with live updates and checks on the latest news material being worked upon.
We were the first factchecker to launch a WhatsApp helpline where you can send in your posts & forwards to be fact checked. Our WhatsApp helpline which receives hundreds of serious queries every week is: +917700906111
BOOM has been in existence since 2014 as a broad investigative journalism effort and as a full-fledged fake news busting and fact checking initiative since November 2016. BOOM is a part of Outcue Media Pvt Ltd and is based in Mumbai, India.
BOOM is among the first two fact checkers in India (www.factchecker.in also launched by the same founder) and South Asia to be 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
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 IndiaSpend & FactChecker.in, data journalism and fact check initiatives. He also anchors seasonal shows on Indian news television – recent ones being Aegons of Business on BloombergQuint and `Policy Watch’ on public service broadcaster Rajya Sabha or RS TV.
Previously, he was Founder-Editor in Chief of Bloomberg TV India, a 24-hours business news service launched out of Mumbai in 2008. 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 McNulty Prize Laureate 2018 & 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 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.
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.
Radhika Bajaj is a bilingual journalist, producer and presenter with over 15 years of diverse experience across various platforms in Indian media. She has witnessed and participated in several milestones in the Indian news industry – from being part of the first 24 hour English news channel to the wave of mobile-first digital media. Radhika has worked at top newspapers, television networks and digital platforms including the India Today Network, Bloomberg UTV, Times Now and Reuters. She is currently the Executive Producer and Presenter for Boom’s daily show on fake news that airs on NDTV Hop.
Anmol Alphonso is a fact-checker with BOOM. He has previously interned at IndiaSpend as a fact-checker and was a reporting intern at Times of India, Indian Express, and Mid-Day. He is a post-graduate diploma holder in journalism from St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education, Mumbai.
Archis is a fact-checker and reporter at BOOM. He has previously worked as a journalist for broadsheet newspapers and in communications for a social start-up incubator. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris and a Master’s in Media and Political Communication from the University of Amsterdam.
Sumit Usha is a fact checker and the News Editor of Boom’s Hindi wing. In the six years of his journalistic career, he has worked with the New Indian Express, Times of India and Deccan Chronicle. The dynamic nature of digital media finally made him take the leap from print to online, and don the hat of a digital detective.
Mohammed Kudrati is a post-graduate in economics from the University of Mumbai, and enjoys working at the junction of data and policy. His specialisations include data analysis and political economy and he previously catered to the computational data analytical requirements of US-based pharmaceutical clients.
Nivedita Niranjankumar is a fact checker at BOOM and works to stop the spread of disinformation and misinformation. When not at work, she escapes into second-hand bookstores, looking for magic or a mystery.
Swasti Chatterjee is a fact-checker and the Deputy News Editor of Boom’s Bangla team. She has worked in the mainstream media, in the capacity of a reporter and copy editor with The Times of India, The Indian Express and NDTV.com and is now working as a digital detective, debunking fake news.