Faktabaari looking to go international

Faktabaari: Jussi Salmio (left), Tuomas Muraja, Mikko Salo, Taru Taipale and Jukka Rautanen

Press release, 20 March 2015

Faktabaari, the Finnish fact checking service that opened for business a year ago, has won the award for Best Journalism Act in the 2014 Bonnier journalism awards organized in March.

Faktabaari founders Mikko Salo, Tuomas Muraja, Taru Taipale, Jussi Salmio and Jukka Rautanen were presented with a prize of €7,500 in the awards gala televised live on MTV3 channel.

The Bonnier journalism awards have been presented in Finland since 2001. The awards support and promote high quality journalism. Mikko Salo believes the award is in recognition of Faktabaari’s creative approach to promoting a more fact­based public debate and the way it calls attention to a basic journalistic skill. “Social media feeds a click­based journalism and the proliferation of populist statements. Faktabaari proved that people want information on social media to be fact­based too.”

The same March week saw Faktabaari beat stiff competition and win €30,000 of seed money in the Media innovation competition organized by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications. Its aim is to speed up the transition of media into digital platforms. According to Krista Kiuru, Minister of Education and Communications and chair of the competition’s jury, the competition challenged citizens and enterprises to innovate new approaches, services and practices for digital media. Twenty projects competed in the final, of which the jury selected ten to receive money. The jury described the level of the competition as high.

For Faktabaari participating and winning opens a range of new opportunities. The seed money enables further development of the project, which utilises crowdsourcing, after the Parliamentary elections. Mikko Salo states that the goal is to examine Faktabaari’s commercial potential as well as opportunities to make the service international. The European Public Communication Award 2014 was attributed to Faktabaari at the EuroPCom 2014 Conference in Brussels 15th of October.

Many of the facts to be checked have proved to be so ambiguous and complex that a broad expert debate has been necessary. Consequently Faktabaari has launched a sister project, Debattibaari (direct translation Debate bar), where experts can engage in calm, well argumented and moderated debates under their own names without disruptive interference from journalists or trolls. The most recent broad expert discussions on Debattibaari have concerned, among other things, climate and energy issues, the pension system as well as the Isaf crisis mananagement operation in Afghanistan.

This spring Faktabaari has also received a €10,000 state grant from Europe Information, which operates under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland. The money is being used to develop the service ahead of the Parliamentary elections. In practice this means that Faktabaari will serve citizens with a slightly updated concept. For instance, a new technical interface means that Faktabaari contents can in future be more fluently utilised by external services.

In terms of content the most significant new Faktabaari feature launched this spring has been the introduction of journalism students from Haaga­-Helia university of applied sciences as fact checkers working together with Faktabaari staff. A total of 32 students with their teachers participate in this collaboration and evolution of fact checking. Faktabaari editor Taru Taipale states: “This has been a great opportunity to meet journalism students and spread the message of fact checking further together.”

The collaboration with students has interested also other media. Radio channel Yle X and national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, among others, have interviewed the students involved.

More information is available from Faktabaari manager Mikko Salo, tel.+358405565050 toimitus@faktabaari.fi www.faktabaari.fi Twitter: @Faktabaari FB: facebook.com/faktabaari



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