Maldita.es: journalism to not be fooled
What is Maldita.es?
Maldita.es is an independent journalistic platform focused on the control of disinformation and public discourse through fact-checking and data journalism techniques. We are a non profit organization with three main objectives:
- Monitor and control political discourse and promote transparency in public and private institutions.
- Verify and fight against misinformation.
- Promote media literacy and technological tools in order to create an aware community that can defend itself from disinformation and lies in all areas.
Our watchword is "journalism to not be fooled" because through fact -checking and verification techniques, data journalism, archive research, technological tools and education we create content that enables citizens to have a greater reassurance about what is real and what is not in order to build informed opinions and decisions. We've developed innovative formats especially focused on social media and the creation of a community committed to the project that collaborates with us.
Maldita.es is divided into niche projects which target specific themes and audiences enabling us to reach different users and to cross their interests along each project afterwards. Each project has its own trademark, imagery and language depending on the audience it aims to reach. These projects are:
- Maldita Hemeroteca: it analyses political flip-flopping addressing politicians directly on social media and press conferences with their changes of criteria on specific topics . It has been awarded the José Manuel Porquet Journalism Prize and shortlisted for the Innovation European Press Prize 2018 and has had a fixed prime time TV section for the last 4 years (El Objetivo de Ana Pastor, laSexta) and a daily radio section (Julia en la Onda, Onda Cero).
- Maldito Bulo: it outstands as the Spanish benchmark in the fight against disinformation, through a built up community that reports to us what is going viral at each moment through social media and our WhatsApp Service. The aim of Maldito Bulo is to make debunked information as viral as disinformation itself, therefore we’ve created an image format that is easily shared and publish it directly on social media with no need for our community to get into our webpage. Being the only Spanish verification project selected for the High-Level Group of Experts Against Fake News appointed by the European Commission and an International Fact- Checking Network’s Code of Principles signatory, it was shortlisted for the Innovation European Press Prize 2018. We collaborate with different TV programs and radio shows.
- Maldita Ciencia: this is our science dissemination and popularization project talks about scientific advancements, health, nutrition, and pseudoscientific disinformation addressing our audiences in a down to earth fresh language and engaging with them by weekly solving doubts and users’ queries through social media.
- Maldito Dato: our data and transparency project. Spain’s transparency law is fairly new (2013) and therefore citizens are not yet making the most of it. Through this project we want facilitate the access to the procedures and serve as expert guidance in posing the questions to the administrations. We have an interface and database in which our community can tell us what they want to ask about and we will help them by either registering the question ourselves or aiding them in the process. In Maldito Dato we also want to help our community to understand specific social and political issues by giving context through data analysis in innovative ways.
Two main keys differentiate Maldita.es from other projects:
- Scope and multiplatform capacity: our contents and formats allow a high viralization and adaptability to different media, allowing us to collaborate in television programs (Collaborations in Debate Al Rojo Vivo and Más Vale Tarde, weekly fixed section at El Objetivo de Ana Pastor, laSexta), radio shows (daily fixed section at Julia en la Onda (Onda Cero), weekly fixed section at Gente Despierta (RNE)) and on digital media (blog on eldiario.es).
- Great community and impact: Our projects add up more than 500,000 followers in social media networks and also, thanks to initiatives such as our subscription (7.300 people), newsletter (5.700 with an average opening of 45%), WhatsApp service (150 - 200 messages per day), Telegram channels (10.000 subscribers) or our forum we are creating a strong and committed community that actively participates in reporting misinformation and disseminating and sharing our content.
Since our aim is also to promote media literacy and to build technological that help citizens to be aware of the dangers of disinformation we contribute to this with training programs at universities, and public and private institutions.
Julio Montes and Clara Jiménez Cruz are two Spanish journalist with 10 years of experience in TV journalism who in 2014 came up with an idea: to create a journalistic political format that could be directly consumed on Twitter. Maldita Hemeroteca was borned, asking politicians directly on social media about their changes of opinion on social matters that the public cared about. It soon became a great success and it was introduced as a fixed section in the prime time show ‘El Objetivo de Ana Pastor’ (laSexta) where Clara worked.
Julio and Clara both continued with their regular jobs at different shows on laSexta and continued to develop new social media journalism projects such as Maldito Bulo. The arrival of the Catalonian crisis in the fall of 2017 and the great wave of disinformation that took place in Spain at that time made them realise that their project had to grow. They hired a developer out of their own money to set up a webpage and a database for the already debunked information and they started to think on a bigger project: Maldita.es.
In June 2018 they quitted their good, career-building jobs at the national TV laSexta and set up Maldita.es.
They are the founders of Maldita.es, a project that they have been imagining for years and stealing hours from days and especially nights to get it out.
Clara is the Head of project. She has spent most of her professional career at laSexta (a national TV station), first in the news and then in different programs across the channel such as Debate Al Rojo Vivo, laSexta Columna and laSexta Noche. Between 2013 and 2018 she was part of the El Objetivo de Ana Pastor, a primetime fact-checking show where she staged a fixed section on Maldita Hemeroteca.
She was appointed to the High Level Group against Disinformation by the European Commision in representation of Maldita.es and is currently a member of the International Fact-Checking Network Advisory Board.
Julio is Maldita.es’s Chief Editor. He has worked for more than a decade at laSexta, where he started in the news. Later on, he created laSexta Columna, a weekly documentary on current news, together with two other colleagues and until June 2018 he was co-editor of the laSexta’s morning political show Debate Al Rojo Vivo.
David Fernández @naroh
He always liked journalism but was more of a computer geek and as Chief Engineer in Maldita.es he does a bit of both. David is a computer engineer who has been developing web platforms and apps for several years. He was also the Spanish representative in the starts of the “No Hate Speech Movement” campaign set by the Council of Europe.
Rocío Pérez @galatea128
As a scientific journalist she’s the coordinator of Maldita Ciencia, unveiling health hoaxes, explaining scientific discoveries and building up a community of science disseminators that share scientific valuable knowledge with our public. Former El Confidencial, she currently collaborates with Jot Down Magazine, Agencia Sinc, and a project called ‘Mujeres con Ciencia’ which aims to publicize women’s scientific achievements.
Nacho Calle @ignaciocalle
He is our data and research journalist. He’s taken part in unveiling the Falciani List, Bahamas Leaks or the Panama Papers. For this latest research, the international team led by ICIJ received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in the category of Depth Journalism. Founder and secretary of the Association of Investigative Journalists, he’s a former El Mundo journalist and has also worked for public institutions such as the Spanish National Heritage, the Spanish Government Presidency and the Ibero-American Summits of Salamanca (2005) and Cádiz (2012).
Stéphane M. Grueso @fanetin
He teaches and lectures on documentary, cultural management, digital activism, communication in the age of internet and cybersecurity and is responsible for Maldita.es’s training and education strategy. As a filmmaker and social activist, he has lived in Germany and Spain. In Berlin he worked in the RTVE correspondent’s office. Director and producer of a dozen documentaries on social and political themes, he has a Master in Digital Economy and Creative Industries by the EOI (School of Industrial Organization, Madrid). Founding member and of the board of directors of the Platform in Defense of Freedom of Information, he also works for the Belgian NGO Associated Whistleblowing Press, where he is responsible for the coordination of filtrala.org, a secure and anonymous filtering platform.
Andrés Bryden Jiménez MacKellar @brydenjimenez
He’s a Spanish-Scottish journalist with a master's degree in journalism innovation from the Miguel Hernández University and I was elected delegate of Spain at Future News Worldwide 2017. He’s worked at the EFE Agency and the creator of Facterbot, where he started fact-checking before arriving at Maldita.es.
WHAT WE ARE DOING UP TO DATE
Maldita.es is the home to various niche projects that aim the supervision of public discourse and the fight against disinformation.
Maldita Hemeroteca, looking for the incoherence on political discourse, operates mainly on social media. With over 190.000 Twitter followers and 44.000 Facebook followers, it also has a fixed section on national TV, a daily section on a national radio and has had a blog in a digital native medium. In the Catalan elections it also had a section in a radio (RAC1) where it undertook interviews with each of the candidates.
Maldito Bulo is the Spanish benchmark in the fight against disinformation through a wide community of users that report, help debunk and viralize our verified contents through social media and messaging apps using an innovative format that aims to imitate disinformation dissemination techniques in order to fight it back.
We believe that in the battle against disinformation, the community is the only way: only if citizens and journalism go hand by hand will we be able to create a healthy well informed social and political debate.
How does Maldito Bulo operate? Our community reports to us any content that they think may be disinformation such as articles, images, whatsapp chains or videos through Twitter, Facebook, our webpage or our WhatsApp Service. With more than 165.000 Twitter followers, 65.000 Facebook users and around 150-200 daily WhatsApp reports we get an idea of which pieces of disinformation are going viral at each moment and we debunk them using a thoroughly methodology as signatories of the IFCN’s Code of Principles. The verified information is then directly shared on social media so that our community has direct access to it and helps us viralizing it.
We have also built technological tools for our community to have verified information at hand at any time:
- We have a Google and Firefox plug-in that alerts you when you go into a disinformation website or if you visit any fake content that has already been verified.
- We have an accessible database in which our community can look up by theme, keywords or an image comparator any content they recieve and that they think may be fake in case we’ve already verified it.
- We have set up a Facebook bot that directly contrasts our database when asked through Facebook messenger by our users.
Maldita Ciencia targets specific disinformation on science and health as well as it disseminates scientific achievements in a close down to earth language that doesn’t require an expert knowledge from those who receive it. We just launched this project and it is already very popular with over 46.000 followers on Twitter.