Fact-checking is a relatively recent journalistic genre in Portugal that has been growing in recent years, alternately viewed as a journalism reform movement or criticized as inefficient and idealistic. Our study is a comparative analysis of the output of the Portuguese fact-checkers Observador and Polígrafo in the 2019–2022 elections to determine whether their coverage is politically biased. Performing a quantitative content analysis of all fact-checking articles on national politics (n = 265) published during the campaign for the parliamentary elections, our results show that fact-checking activity has increased in the last elections. These data may indicate that fact-checking agencies have increased their capacity and resources, but may also suggest a greater presence of subjectivity and deception in Portuguese political discourse. The focus of Portuguese fact-checkers is statements produced during political debates (70%), while social media verification is disregarded. Our most significant finding is the lack of evidence of partisan or political bias in the selection of the assessed statements. Both fact-checkers do not show a tendency to check statements that are more or less anti- or pro-government and/or statements that are ideologically favorable to the left wing or the right wing. Therefore, our findings confirm the high level of professionalism and impartiality of Portuguese fact-checkers evidenced in other studies, and demonstrate that the Portuguese citizen’s skepticism toward the practice has no foundation.

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Published on 15/11/22
Accepted on 15/11/22
Submitted on 15/11/22

Volume 31, Issue 6, 2022
DOI: 10.3145/epi.2022.nov.11
Licence: Other

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