By: Cristina Tardaguila
In November 2014, I arrived in Buenos Aires as the founder and editor of the first fact-checking blog in Brazil. I worked at O Globo newspaper in Rio de Janeiro and I was in charge of Preto no Branco. With a team of only 4 journalists, I had finished checking the most disputed presidential elections in the history of Brazilian democracy –between Dilma Rousseff and Aécio Neves– and analyzing nothing less than 374 phrases uttered in a little over 80 days. Back then, I felt as if I had experienced everything there was to go through in the world of fact-checking; absolutely everything. I had felt anguish, fear, insecurity and panic when faced with mistakes, the thrill of watching a political discourse change due to my work and the evident success reflected in the numbers related to the repercussion of my checks. But I was wrong. I still had a lot to learn.
The first day of Latam Chequea 2014, we got together in a large hall, and I remember a thought crossed my mind right at the beginning, something similar to: “My God! Look at all these people performing checks! ” As the days and talks went by, I realized that not only was there a large number of fact-checkers, but also of paths and possibilities for checking.
Until then, my team and I had only focused on politics, on political discourse. Latam Chequea planted a seed. What if we expanded our horizons? What if we started checking sports? Health services? What if we used other formats, such as video, and not only text? What if we performed checks on the radio? What would that be like?
Latam Chequea also brought together professionals who, like me, believe in a similar journalism: journalism aimed at delivering quality information to society so that everybody –and not only a few people– has the necessary tools to make their own decisions.
It was Latam Chequea that gave birth to Agência Lupa, a start-up led by me, which today excels in Brazilian fact-checking. It was during the breaks in the talks of 2014 that I wrote down the first ideas about what this new and ambitious checking project in my country would be like. It was also at Latam Chequea that I understood the power that we build together as fact-checkers and how our products, which are constantly improving, can gain more ground, have a higher impact. I am certain that the meeting of 2016, which begins next week, will be even more interesting. It will be a space for new ideas. With more oxygen.