The IFCN welcomes new applications to its Code of Principles beginning Jan. 16, 2024. Our website is currently under renovation, so new signatories should begin the application process by emailing their interest to info@ifcn.org with "New Signatory" in the subject line.

USA TODAY

Organization: USA TODAY
Applicant: Eric Litke
Assessor: Margot Susca

Background

I assessed the USA Today Fact Check application on Dec. 16, 2022. I reviewed a random sample of fact checks published between May 2022 and December 2022. I also looked at several fact checks that were included in the application by the applicant. 

Assessment Conclusion

Based on my review of USA Today Fact Check's online information related to its ownership and staffing, nonpartisanship, and transparency as well as its methodology and sourcing, I recommend compliance. 

on 16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago)

Margot Susca assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

I believe its explanation of sources and transparency of staff members including biographical and contact information both are standard-bearer. Its fact checks include not just who/what its sources are but additional information on when and how sources were contacted and/or interviewed. That is a highlight of its fact check operation. Its staff page includes biographical details as well as contact information. That would be a useful and easy-to-use guide for any member of the public to connect with its staff. 

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 1.1 The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 1.4 On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 1.6 If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA TODAY is a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc., a subscription-led and digitally focused media and marketing solutions company committed to empowering communities to thrive. With unmatched reach at the national and local level, Gannett touches the lives of millions with our Pulitzer-Prize winning content consumer experiences and benefits, and advertiser products and services.

In addition to USA TODAY, Gannett's portfolio includes local media organizations in 46 states in the U.S., and Newsquest, a wholly owned subsidiary with over 120 local media brands operating in the United Kingdom. Gannett also owns the digital marketing services companies ReachLocal, Inc., UpCurve, Inc., and WordStream, Inc. and runs the largest media-owned events business in the U.S., USA TODAY NETWORK Ventures. Our powerful network of brands and capabilities position us well to ensure and preserve the future of local journalism. We continue to transform our business model to create a more agile and dynamic organization for sustaining local journalism, employees and shareholders.

USA TODAY's main website can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com

A complete company profile can be found here: https://investors.gannett.com/corporate-profile/default.aspx

The Fact Check team is attached to the USA TODAY Washington Bureau, and is supported by journalists throughout the USA TODAY Network, comprised of local newsrooms in 46 U.S. states.

The work of the Fact Check team is accessible via the News section of USA TODAY's website https://www.usatoday.com/news at this URL: https://www.usatoday.com/factcheck

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The applicant is compliant in this area, producing fact checks related to public health and political issues and its website explains USA TODAY is a a part of Gannett Co.

However, I navigated to the Fact Check page of the site by using the drop down from the main USA Today website because a link included in the application does not work. Here's the page I used: https://www.usatoday.com/news/factcheck/ but I note the URL included in the application (https://www.usatoday.com/factcheck) produces an error message. I have attached a screen shot of the error message.

Files Attached
Oh Snap USA Today.pn... (148 KB)
done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The USA TODAY fact-checking team was formally established in early 2020, building on fact checks performed by journalists at USA TODAY and the 200+ local newsrooms that comprise the USA TODAY Network. It began in response to an increasing number of false claims from political operatives and elected officials that, in turn, were amplified by social media platforms. Early partnerships in local communities including Milwaukee, Wis., and Phoenix, Ariz., combined with partnerships with organizations such as PolitiFact reinforced the need to establish fact-checking in a more formal structure.

Today, the core fact-checking team is comprised of the following journalists at USA TODAY:

Martina Stewart, Senior Editor, Fact Check & Supreme Court https://www.usatoday.com/staff/2646783001/martina-stewart/

Eric Litke, Fact Check Editor https://www.usatoday.com/staff/4383116002/eric-litke/

Brad Sylvester, Fact Check Editor https://www.usatoday.com/staff/10381829002/brad-sylvester/ 

Sudiksha Kochi, Fact Check Reporter https://www.usatoday.com/staff/5243206001/sudiksha-kochi/

BrieAnna Frank, Fact Check Reporter https://www.usatoday.com/staff/2648293001/brieanna-j-frank/ 

Christopher Mueller, Fact Check Reporter https://www.usatoday.com/staff/4386974002/chris-mueller/

Kate Petersen, Fact Check Reporting Fellow https://www.usatoday.com/staff/6109715001/kate-s-petersen/ 

Hannah Hudnall, Fact Check Reporting Fellow https://www.usatoday.com/staff/10146264002/hannah-hudnall/

Molly Stellino, Fact Check Audience/Reporting Fellow https://www.usatoday.com/staff/4763760002/molly-stellino/ 

Eleanor McCrary, Fact Check Reporting Fellow https://www.courier-journal.com/staff/9893367002/eleanor-mccrary/ 

The core team is supported by more than a dozen reporters in the USA TODAY Washington Bureau as well as local reporters throughout the USA TODAY Network. 

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The applicant is compliant in this area. Its staff members and their roles are clearly labeled and identified on the website. 


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Week of January 23, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/01/28/fact-check-wikileaks-did-not-release-staged-moon-landing-footage/9217263002/

Week of January 30, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/01/31/fact-check-covid-19-pneumonia-not-allergic-reaction/9214215002/

Week of Feb. 6, 2022: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/02/10/fact-check-beijing-olympic-skiers-not-competing-near-nuclear-plant/6721512001/

Week of Feb. 13, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/02/18/fact-check-underground-railroad-unrelated-black-lawn-jockey-statues/6816652001/

Week of Feb. 20, 2022: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/02/25/fact-check-tiktok-doesnt-show-russians-parachuting-into-ukraine/6937733001/

Week of Feb. 27, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/03/03/fact-check-false-claim-video-shows-explosion-ukraine-airport/9344488002/

Week of March 6, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/03/07/fact-check-viral-clip-video-game-footage-not-ukraine/9392566002/

Week of March 13, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/03/15/fact-check-russian-attack-mariupol-hospital-not-staged/7041649001/

Week of March 20, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/03/23/fact-check-members-congress-did-not-get-21-pay-raise/7076044001/

Week of March 27, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/03/30/fact-check-false-claim-hillary-clinton-fired-watergate/6844908001/

Week of April 3, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/04/08/fact-check-fictional-tucker-carlson-quote-ukraine-spreads-online/9511561002/

Week of April 10, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/04/14/fact-check-federal-reserve-has-balance-sheet-9-trillion/7198368001/

Week of April 17, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/04/22/fact-check-putin-did-not-nationalize-russian-bank-create-currency/7385457001/

Week of April 24, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/04/28/fact-check-anti-natalist-clip-tv-show-not-world-economic-forum/9555254002/

Week of May 1, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/04/fact-check-false-claim-elon-musk-suspended-bill-gates-twitter/9573011002/

Week of May 8, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/10/fact-check-private-credit-reporting-agencies-issue-credit-scores/9706223002/

Week of May 15, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/15/fact-check-false-claim-former-rep-trey-gowdy-endorsed-2000-mules/9731368002/

Week of May 22, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/27/fact-check-ice-assisting-texas-not-enforcing-immigration-laws/9946210002/

Week of May 29, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/31/fact-check-texas-school-shooting-suspect-us-citizen/9962085002/

Week of June 5, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/06/06/fact-check-false-claim-abortion-related-deaths-ended-after-roe-ruling/9764955002/

Week of June 12, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/06/13/fact-check-false-claim-johnny-depp-touring-kyle-rittenhouse/7533180001/

Week of June 19, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/06/24/fact-check-false-claim-house-bill-outlaws-gun-cleaning-assembly/7626378001/

Week of June 26, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/06/30/fact-check-supposed-mark-meadows-ginni-thomas-texts-satire/7703520001/

Week of July 3, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/07/05/fact-check-birth-records-young-uvalde-victims-arent-public/7770760001/

Week of July 10, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/07/11/fact-check-mcconnell-plans-lead-senate-republicans-after-midterms/7821794001/

Week of July 17, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/07/19/fact-check-false-claim-supreme-court-overturned-2020-results/10037664002/

Week of July 24, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/07/29/fact-check-vladimir-putin-donald-trump-didnt-recently-meet-dc/10182425002/

Week of July 31, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/03/fact-check-experts-say-shading-ac-unit-does-not-improve-efficiency/10163459002/

Week of Aug. 7, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/09/fact-check-monkeypox-not-side-effect-covid-19-vaccine/10238928002/

Week of Aug. 14, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/17/fact-check-altered-photo-exaggerates-donald-trumps-weight/10291316002/ 

Week of Aug. 21, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/22/fact-check-drop-vaccination-rates-2020-didnt-end-sids/10333447002/ 

Week of Aug. 28, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/28/fact-check-colorado-dominion-machines-performed-properly-recount/10208450002/ 

Week of Sept. 4, 2022 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/09/06/fact-check-altered-image-dr-oz-campaign-sign-spreads-online-pennsylvania-senate/7939604001/ 

Week of Sept. 11, 2002 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/09/12/fact-check-false-claim-chief-justice-john-roberts/8062277001/ 

Week of Sept. 18, 2002 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/09/20/fact-check-false-claim-masks-do-not-make-people-more-obedient-slave-like/8026835001/ 

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The applicant is compliant in this area. I have opened the links included and checked more recent fact checks. A more detailed description/evaluation of fact checks related to sourcing and methodology will be provided in the other sections. 


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Link to main fact check page: https://www.usatoday.com/news/factcheck

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I have reviewed the following fact checks, and I mark the applicant compliant in the 1.4 criteria. The fact checks that I reviewed include the headline and date (all from the last 3 months in 2022) below: 

Dec. 14: Fact check: Arizona's voting equipment was certified ahead of the 2022 midterms

Dec. 14: Fact check: Herschel Walker's changing vote count was due to human error, not election fraud

Dec. 12: Fact check: No, WHO chief did not say COVID-19 boosters kill children

Oct. 28: Fact check: California uses controlled burns to mitigate wildfires

Sept. 20: Fact check: No, masks do not make people more obedient and 'slave like'






done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA TODAY and Gannett Media do not have any commercial, financial or institutional relationships to the state, elected officials or political parties other than through the sale of political advertising, where candidates purchase advertising space in a similar fashion to ordinary retail clients. We maintain a strict separation between the editorial and business operations of our enterprise. 

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA Today Fact Check is compliant in this area as it does not receive or have commercial or financial incentives (outside of advertising, which it mentions) with government actors, elected officials, or political parties. 


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

The Principles of Ethical Conduct for USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network can be found here: https://cm.usatoday.com/ethical-conduct/

Details on how Gannett ensures ethical business practices can be found here: https://www.gannett.com/people/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I have reviewed USA Today's ethics policies and mark this section as compliant. A partial draft of its policy is attached. 

Files Attached
USA Today Ethical Pr... (200 KB)
done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 2.1 The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.
  • 2.2 The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.
  • 2.3 The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.
  • 2.4 The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.
  • 2.5 The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The examples provided below, as a body of work, demonstrate USA TODAY's commitment to seeking the truth, telling the truth and surfacing accurate information even when claims are political in nature. We believe this work is of particular importance as instances of disinformation and minsinformation continue to grow. Each of these examples exemplify our commitment to deep and fair-minded reporting, research and analysis regardless of where the result of the claim may need. Many of these examples reflect assessments on our part that run counter to a prevailing political orthodoxy or narrative evident at the time of publication. 

For each fact check, our process is the same from the selection of individual claims to fact check to the end with final editing and publication.

Step 1: We primarily use Facebook's fact-checking product to help surface claims that would make good fact check assignments.

Step 2: An editor then makes a decision to approve the assignment, typically after some preliminary research is conducted.

Step 3: Once the fact check is drafted, typically with editors collaborating with fact check reporters during the research and reporting process, at least two USA TODAY fact check editors scrutinize the work product in every respect. This includes reviews for fairness, balance and adherence to the ratings scheme USA TODAY uses in addition to the publicly-available ratings guidance provided by Facebook. 

We believe these examples demonstrate that USA TODAY uses the same high and exacting standards of evidence when assessing claims no matter what side of the partisan divide the originate from. In addition, we believe these examples demonstrate that we are unafraid to rate claims based on that evidence even if our assessment might surprise some readers by undermining a dominant narrative. These examples also show that we can and do handle nuance and subtlety even when claims are very partisan in nature.

Articles that demonstrate our nonpartisanship since July 2021

Debunking claims from the left:

• Biden on gun control - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/06/14/fact-check-biden-once-said-more-gun-control-may-not-reduce-crime/7609342001/

• Fake Ted Cruz tweets - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/31/fact-check-no-ted-cruz-did-not-reuse-twitter-text-mass-shootings/9992665002/

• Fake MTG tweet - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/07/12/fact-check-fabricated-tweet-marjorie-greene-taylor-circulates/7821487001/

• Fake Trump quote - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/28/fact-check-quote-fbi-probes-and-presidency-misattributed-trump/10291744002/ 

• Costs of student debt cancellation - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/09/21/fact-check-student-debt-relief-cost-government-billions/10434891002/ 

Debunking claims from the right:

• False claim Biden admin was distributing crack pipes https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/02/11/fact-check-crack-pipes-arent-included-30-million-grant-program/6736281001/

• Trump still wrongly saying 2020 was rigged - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/01/06/fact-check-donald-trump-2020-election-results/9115875002/

• False claim that sending postcards to key will decertify ballots - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/29/fact-check-sending-postcards-state-officials-wont-decertify-2020-election-results-ballots/7888952001/ 

• Boston Children’s Hospital and transgender care - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/08/22/fact-check-false-claim-boston-hospitals-transgender-care/10340507002/

• TPUSA misleads on WEF police - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/05/27/fact-check-photos-show-swiss-force-not-world-economic-forum-police/9961987002/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I have reviewed a dozen fact checks from the last year included those included by the applicant and others. I find fact checks on a range of issues related to a number of political ideologies. 

As an example, one fact check from July 2022 examined the false claim that former President Donald Trump had met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. (It was headlined: "Fact check: False claim that Trump, Putin had recent meeting in Washington, D.C.")

A June fact check ("Fact check: Biden once said he 'never believed' gun control, federal registration would reduce crime") examined statements made by President Joe Biden in 1985. 

Others are included in subsequent sections of this review. 

Compliant. 



done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

USA TODAY looks for material from elected and appointed officials, those running for office and those who represent public officials and other public figures. We monitor speeches, debates, events, TV appearances, news stories, social media, campaign ads, news releases and more for material.

In selecting the items to fact check, we try to focus on topics that are in the news or that could be confusing to people. Though we don’t keep count, we do strive for balance – ideologically and geographically – in our fact checks.

Our complete criteria can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/02/12/fact-check-guidelines-usa-today/4735217002/


Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

This is clearly articulated online. I mark the applicant fully compliant, and I have attached a screen shot of its explanation related to how it selects and processes claims. 

Files Attached
USA Today Guidelines... (268 KB)
done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 2.3 I reviewed the Aug. 28 fact check headlined: "Dominion voting machines in Colorado performed properly during 2022 primary recount"

At the top of the page, the fact checker wrote, "The claim: Dominion voting machines failed in a Colorado recount" and starts by explaining a Mesa County clerk lost their secretary of state bid and wrote a news release claiming the machines "failed." Another official in another state wrote a Facebook post with a similar claim though this one added machines had a "50% failure rate." 

The fact checker wrote: "But the claim is baseless. The voting machines tested in the county passed with 100% accuracy, according to a spokesperson for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's office." Additionally and using transparency, the fact checker explained they reached out to the two people mentioned who made the false claims for comment or further evidence, and none was provided. Furthermore, the fact checker explained a bipartisan team that includes one Democrat and one Republican were in place for a review of any ballots flagged. 



done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 2.4 I assessed the Dec. 14 fact check "Article falsely claims Speaker Nancy Pelosi was arrested for treason" 

USA Today Fact Check was assessing the claim made by a site online called Real Raw News that Pelosi "was arrested and charged with treason and seditious conspiracy." An online site claimed that Pelosi had been arrested after a state dinner with the French president. 

The fact check explained: "But the claim is bogus. Real Raw News is a website that publishes fabricated stories, many of which USA TODAY has debunked. There are no legitimate reports of Pelosi being arrested. She has made multiple public appearances since the supposed arrest and detainment."


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

The Principles of Ethical Conduct for USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network can be found here: https://cm.usatoday.com/ethical-conduct/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The applicant is compliant in this criteria because their ethical policy, which explains nonpartisanship is available. Any person using the site and seeking its policy would be able to access it. I have included a screen shot from the bottom of USA Today's main page to show where it is. 

Files Attached
Online Ethics Policy... (83 KB)
done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 3.1 The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.
  • 3.2 The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.
  • 3.3 The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.
  • 3.4 The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 3.1 I examined the Aug. 9, 2022 fact check: "Monkeypox is not a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, experts say"

Clearly incorrect social media posts and fake news related to Covid-19 have been a primary area of concern for the global fact check community for nearly three years. USA Today's fact check staffer clearly understands this in their analysis of this false claim by choosing top sources to fact check the item.

They wrote "But the claim is baseless. Infectious disease specialists told USA TODAY that monkeypox is not linked to any of the COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines also do not contain any live viruses, so it is not possible that monkeypox can be a side effect." Additionally, they wrote: "Monkeypox is most certainly not a side effect of the COVID vaccine or any vaccine for that matter, Dr. Scott Roberts, an infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine, told USA TODAY. There is no evidence from any clinical studies to support this claim."

I have not see this in other applications, which I think could be a standard-bearer in the industry. At the end of its fact checks USA Today lists its fact-check sources and explains when and how they contacted/interviewed them. As an example for this Aug. 9 piece, the source list copied verbatim:

Our fact-check sources:

Dr. Taison Bell, Aug. 4, Phone interview with USA TODAY

Dr. Scott Roberts, Aug. 4, Phone interview with USA TODAY

Dr. Stuart Ray, Aug. 4, Email exchange with USA TODAY

USA TODAY, Aug. 4, Biden administration declares monkeypox a public health emergency

AFP Fact Check, June 9, Monkeypox not a side effect of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine

USA TODAY, July 27, Addressing myths about monkeypox: A look at symptoms, treatment and other common questions

USA TODAY, Aug. 2, Monkeypox state cases: New York, California top numbers as Biden admin declares emergency

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aug. 9, 2022 U.S. Map & Case Count

Associated Press, May 24, COVID-19 vaccines didn’t cause monkeypox outbreak

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 15, Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 3.2 I reviewed the Dec. 12, 2022 fact check headlined "No, WHO chief did not say COVID-19 boosters kill children"

Here, the fact checker was assessing a video posted to social media (it had different likes/interactions on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram) that claimed incorrectly to show the WHO director saying countries were using the boosters to do harm. He did not say that. Here are the sources copied verbatim that the Fact Check staff members used to debunk the claim: 

Our fact-check sources:

World Health Organization, Dec. 20, 2021, WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing for Geneva-based journalists

USA TODAY, April 22, 2020, Public health 'superstar' or pro-China propagandist? WHO chief lands in US political crosshairs

Reuters, Aug. 22, New breed of video sites thrives on misinformation and hate

Reuters, Dec. 29, 2021, Fact Check-WHO chief’s stutter while speaking about booster shots triggers conspiracy

AFP Fact Check, Dec. 31, 2021, Posts misrepresent WHO chief's remarks on Covid vaccine inequity

Market Watch, Nov. 8, Nearly half of election-related videos on Rumble are posted by untrustworthy sources, as are 1 in 5 on YouTube: misinformation monitor

PolitiFact, Nov. 18, World Health Organization director general stuttered, he wasn’t asserting that countries are killing



done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 3.3 I reviewed the May 2022 fact check headlined "False claim that former Rep. Trey Gowdy endorsed '2000 Mules'"

Its sources here are varied and thorough, but the the one that stands out is an email exchange by USA Today staffers with Gowdy, a former South Carolina Representative, who was the subject of the bogus claim. The fact check noted: "USA TODAY reached out to Gowdy, who rejected the statements found in the claim. 'Both assertions are completely false. Wasn’t at Mar a Lago. Haven’t seen the movie.' Gowdy told USA TODAY via email. 'Didn’t even know there was a movie. So it’s 100% false.'" But the fact check site went beyond just his email. 

Its complete source list to investigate the claim: 

Associated Press, May 3, Gaping holes in the claim of 2k ballot ‘mules’

Associated Press, May 10, Former US Rep. Gowdy didn’t praise film alleging election fraud

AFP, May 12, US documentary revives Trump's unproven election fraud claims

Check Your Fact, May 10, Fact check: Did Trey Gowdy attend the premier of ‘2000 Mules’?

PolitiFact, May 4, The faulty premise of the ‘2000 mules’ trailer about voting by mail in the 2020 election

Trey Gowdy, May 10, Email exchange with USA TODAY

Troy Nehls, May 4, Tweet

Jenna Ellis, May 4, Tweet

TwitterDavid Limbaugh, May 6, Tweet


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 3.4 I reviewed the Dec. 14 fact check "Herschel Walker's changing vote count was due to human error, not election fraud" 

A TikTok user posted a slight vote count change from TV, and then in a post that went (kind of) viral, claimed election fraud and garnered 30,000 likes in a few days. It was the result of human error and the tally was corrected within one minute. 

Our fact-check sources:

USA TODAY, Dec. 7, Georgia 2022 Senate runoff recap: Warnock wins election, boosting Democratic majority

PolitiFact, Dec. 9, Fluctuating vote count on Fox News resulted from human error, not fraud in the Georgia runoff

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Dec. 12, Results

USA TODAY, Nov. 23, Fact check: Image shows network error reporting Pennsylvania vote totals, not election fraud

Lauren Easton, Dec. 13, Email exchange with USA TODAY

AFP, Dec. 9, TV vote count correction not evidence of Georgia runoff fraud 



done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 4.1 Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 4.3 A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.
  • 4.4 A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

The USA TODAY Fact Check team is a section or unit USA TODAY, which is a part of Gannett Co., Inc.

A complete company profile can be found here: https://investors.gannett.com/corporate-profile/default.aspx

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA Today is clear that it is a part of the Gannett Co. It also is clear that it has relationships with the local newspapers that also are owned by Gannett (some formerly GateHouse papers). As such, I mark them as compliant here. 


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The parent company's latest required financial disclosure form, which includes a statement of ownership, can be found here: https://investors.gannett.com/financials/sec-filings/sec-filings-details/default.aspx?FilingId=15598907

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Gannett, as a publicly-traded media company, has quarterly and annual filings that can be searched on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's website. Gannett also has on its investor relations page of its website financial information. That site is easy to read and navigate. For these reasons, I mark Criteria 4.2 as compliant. 

Files Attached
Gannett Investor Rel... (152 KB)
done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

USA TODAY's organizational structure can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com/contact/staff/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Attached, is the section showing staff members from the Fact Check team. It is clear and lists roles and responsibilities if you click on the profiles. As such, I mark Criteria 4.3 as compliant. 

Files Attached
Fact Check staff .pn... (275 KB)
done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Professional biographies of our leadership team and individual journalists can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com/contact/staff/


Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Criteria 4.4 is an extension of 4.3. I have included one example of a member of its fact check team to show how its site explains the roles. As such, I mark them as compliant. 

Files Attached
USA Today Fact Check... (356 KB)
done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

Our editorial staff list includes direct contact information for each team member: https://www.usatoday.com/contact/staff/

We also maintain a separate contact page and form for inquiries: https://marketing.usatoday.com/contact-us/https://www.usatoday.com/contact/staff/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Any reasonable user would be able to find information about the Fact Check team and connect through a number of online/email channels should they wish to communicate with them. As such, I mark them as compliant in Criteria 4.5 


done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 5.1 The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.
  • 5.2 The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.
  • 5.3 The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.
  • 5.4 The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.
  • 5.5 The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (I) this is often not possible with online claims, (II) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (III) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (IV) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.
  • 5.6 The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)
Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Under USA Today's Fact Check Guidelines, it explains how it selects topics and how it reports topics. Given this transparency and coupled with its sourcing, I mark Criteria 5.1 compliant. 


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 5.2 I used the June 2022 fact check "Biden once said he 'never believed' gun control, federal registration would reduce crime"

The fact checker explained that a spate of recent mass shootings put the spotlight on gun control including comments made by Biden that were posted and widely circulated on Facebook. That comment was "“During my twelve-and-a-half years as a member of this body, I have never believed that additional gun control or federal registration of guns would reduce crime." 

To fact check this claim, USA Today turned to the original comment, which was made in a 1985 Senate session, and noted Biden has "gone on to advocate for gun control measures" since. Its methodology included a review of his voting record and complete public comments. It also included news reports on his "policy evolution." USA Today further contacted a White House spokesperson who referred to a statement provided to NBC News in 2019. Additionally, the fact check points to a more recent White House press briefing where the issue was addressed and to a primetime address by Biden on the issue. 

As such, I mark this criteria as compliant. 




done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 5.3 I reviewed the ay 15, 2022 fact check "False claim that former Rep. Trey Gowdy endorsed '2000 Mules'"

The methodology explains that the USA Today fact checker connected directly with Gowdy. Furthermore, it cites reporting from the Associated Press that noted the claim was mis-attributed to Gowdy. 

Based on my review of this fact check, I mark the applicant compliant. 


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 5.4 I reviewed the September 2022 fact check "No, masks do not make people more obedient and 'slave like'"

The post begins by saying that misinformation about masks has been rampant since the outset of the Covid 19 pandemic. It noted that a Canadian man added to that misinformation with a post that said masks make people "slave like." That false post also said that blocking airways provided a trigger for the body to "increase obedience and compliance to the highest levels."

The fact check continues that it connected with a number of media experts, who all said there is no basis for that claim. It explained using an interview with a University of Washington professor of medicine that the claim is false. It also included an interview with a professor of psychology at the University of Louisville. Its methodology continues by stating what the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control note about masks stopping the spread. 

Based on this review, I mark this criteria compliant.


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

For Criteria 5.5 I reviewed the Dec. 16, 2022 fact check "PCR tests are 'gold standard' for detecting COVID infection, no link to cloning"

Here, a USA Today fact checker noted that there is no link to cloning. The methodology is easy to follow and includes a review PCR tests being the best detection despite social media posts and videos online claiming the tests have links to cloning. Infectious disease experts including at the Mayo Clinic were contacted and quoting noting there is not nor has there been any link between PCR tests and cloning. The fact check even explains what cloning is and how it has nothing to do with testing for a virus. Additionally, the fact check finds and explains an article cited by social media users was published four years before the outbreak of Covid 19. 

I mark this criteria as compliant. 


done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We include an invitation for readers to submit information to be fact-checked on our Fact Check Guidelines page: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/02/12/fact-check-guidelines-usa-today/4735217002/

Our dedicated e-mail address for this purpose is factcheck@usatoday.com 

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA Today Fact Check has a clearly marked section under its guidelines with the bolded subhead "How Do We Choose Our Topics." It explains, in part: "In selecting the items to fact check – because we can’t check them all – we try to focus on politics, health, science and other topics in the news, significant national issues or those that could be confusing to people. Though we don’t keep count, we do strive for balance – ideologically and geographically – in our fact checks." 

This is clearly labeled and would help any reasonable person understand what is and is not fact-checkable. As such, I mark Criteria 5.6 compliant. 


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 6.1 The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.
  • 6.2 The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.
  • 6.3 Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.
  • 6.4 The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.
  • 6.5 If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our corrections policy is linked from the homepage at https://www.usatoday.com and at the top of the fact check landing pages at https://www.usatoday.com/news/factcheck - here is a direct link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/01/02/corrections-clarifications-2022/8883854002/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I find USA Today Fact Check's corrections policy to be clear. Additionally, an email address is provided where any reasonable person could send in a query or complain about an item's accuracy. As such, I mark Criteria 6.1 compliant. 


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

To build on the point made in the above critieria, to show compliance with Criteria 6.2 I have included a screen shot of its corrections policy that also includes a recent correction at the bottom of the page. As such, I mark this compliant. 

Files Attached
Corrections Clarific... (126 KB)
done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA TODAY routinely investigates reports of inaccuracies and publishes corrections once verified. An archive of all published corrections can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/01/02/corrections-clarifications-2022/8883854002/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

To assess compliance with Criteria 6.3 I have reviewed its corrections archive and show that it has and does update work and articulate reasons corrections may have been necessary. As such, I mark this item compliant. 


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago)

The link to the complaints page on the IFCN site can be found in the last section, "What if we need to correct something," of this page:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/02/12/fact-check-guidelines-usa-today/4735217002/

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

I confirm the applicant explains it is an existing IFCN signatory. It also includes a link where a user could submit a complaint directly to the IFCN. As such, I mark Criteria 6.4 compliant. 


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

USA TODAY
11-Aug-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA TODAY routinely investigates reports of inaccuracies and publishes corrections once verified. An archive of all published corrections can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2021/01/11/corrections-clarifications-2021/6629259002/ 

Margot Susca Assessor
16-Dec-2022 (1 year ago) Updated: 1 year ago

USA Today publishes corrections and clearly articulates its policy on corrections and clarifications. As such, I mark Criteria 6.5 compliant. 


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.