So let’s have a look at the quality control practiced at the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit. This is how they self-describe their quality control:
Once the director approves a claim, one of our researchers contacts experts in the field to seek their opinion and guidance on available data.
We may also contact the claimant to ask for the basis of the claim.
The expert opinion and data is written into a draft, which is then reviewed by our chief fact checker, who identifies problems, and challenges the researcher on anything that they might have missed.
The chief fact checker also scrutinises all sources and makes sure the draft is consistent with what the data says.
The researcher continually reworks the draft based on this feedback, and once the chief fact checker is satisfied, the team discusses the final verdict
These discussions are rigorous and much thought is given to the verdict word and the colour that will be used, which is an important part of how we inject nuance into our verdicts.
Our online editor then prepares the final product, which is once again checked by the chief fact checker for any inaccuracies which may have crept up during the editing process.
Once the director signs off on the finished draft, it’s ready to be released to the world.
Sounds very impressive. The director has to give approval for a fact check and then the chief fact checker checks the facts not once but twice.
It obviously never once occurred to him that there might be conflict of interest problems with the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit fact checking a criticism of the ABC by a pair of RMIT employees. Certainly that declaration is missing from the body of the fact check. You’d also think that they do a better job. But no.
Apparently careful thought is given the whole process.
Yet none of this prevented the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit from identifying Chris Berg as not being from RMIT, but rather an IPA employee.
Yet none of this prevented the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit from not reporting that “appropriate statistical methods were used in testing for differences between sub-samples to take account of the smaller sample sizes” in the original study we rely on.
Yet none of this prevented the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit from not reporting that their own commissioned research showed that our estimate of Greens voting relative to the general population was well within their 95% confidence interval.
Yet none of this prevented the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit from criticising us for comparing survey data to Newspoll data when we did no such thing.
Yet none of this prevented the RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit from reporting that the original survey “showed no evidence that ABC journalists were five times more likely to vote for the Greens than the general public” when they knew full well we had compared the survey data to election data.
Or from reporting that the University of the Sunshine Coast had been rebranded as the Queensland University of Technology!
Really? Why anyone wouldn’t know about QUT and University of the Sunshine Coast being separate institutions let alone the author of the fact check, and the chief fact checker who had checked it twice!
Anyway – a nice correction at the bottom.
Editor’s note (13/07/2018): A previous version of this fact check contained a line which incorrectly said that the University of the Sunshine Coast had been rebranded as the Queensland University of Technology. The two are separate institutions which both still operate today.