The rise of fact-checking as an innovative tool aimed at improving democratic well-being has become a transnational movement in journalism. In June 2021, the Duke Reporters’ Lab database features 341 such initiatives around the world, including 33 active fact-checking projects in countries pertaining to the Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralist Model (Hallin; Mancini, 2004). Following previous research on fact-checking in other territories, this qualitative study expands the understanding of how this practice is performed by four platforms of countries belonging to this journalistic culture: Maldita.es (Spain), Les Surligneurs (France), Observador (Portugal), and Pagella Politica (Italy). Through in-depth interviews with their decision-makers, this work offers a deep understanding of the structure, agenda, practices, and values, the role of the public, and the challenges that these organizations face. Normally run by small but multidisciplinary teams, the studied initiatives show high levels of transparency and a tendency for continuous improvement and professionalization despite their limitations. Following the example of leading initiatives in the USA, the UK, Latin America and Europe, the analyzed organizations cover a wide range of thematic areas and make use of the latest digital tools. They employ robust methodologies when selecting the content they verify, consult an extensive range of sources, and set various control filters before publication, which proves their commitment to transparency and accountability. Furthermore, they guarantee the right of reply and are widely open to public participation and broader dissemination of their work through mainstream media. From difficulties in accessing public information to scarcity of resources and increased competition, fact-checking platforms in the Mediterranean context face major challenges that have forced them to rethink their role and find new revenue streams. These organizations highlight the need to enhance the impact of fact-checking among citizens, journalists, and politicians and, ultimately, to go back to the roots of journalism.
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