VRT NWS is launching a fact-check marathon in the run-up to elections

3rd April 2024
As the parliamentary and European elections are approaching, VRT NWS will step up a gear in the coming weeks to fact-check political statements together with other news editors from Flanders, French-speaking Belgium and the Netherlands.
VRT NWS Fact-checking marathon - June elections 2024 - Credits: VRT NWS

This press release was originally published on VRT and is republished with permission.

Now that the June 9 elections are slowly approaching and the campaign is getting underway, political statements and promises are flying around our ears. But are the figures that candidates and parties use correct? And can we always believe a campaign or are we sometimes misled by images and photos? VRT NWS will step up a gear in the coming weeks to fact-check political statements together with other news editors from Flanders, French-speaking Belgium and the Netherlands.

From May 27, VRT NWS, Knack, Factcheck.Vlaanderen, deCheckers, RTBF, Algemeen Dagblad, Pointer (KRO/NCRV) and Nieuwscheckers will join forces for the very first fact-check marathon of the Low Countries! The inspiration comes from the Netherlands, where three editions have already taken place during previous elections.

“Journalists from eight different editorial offices joining forces to fact-check together is truly unprecedented. And it is necessary to do this, because eight in ten Flemish people consider disinformation to be a problem for our society. During election times, opinions may fluctuate and clash with each other, but preferably based on real facts and figures.”

– Griet De Craen, editor-in-chief VRT NWS

During the fact-check marathon, journalists from the various editorial offices will work together from a joint editorial office at VRT. Every day they will make at least two fact checks in text, audio and video. These stories can be seen on the various news platforms of the participating media. The focus is on themes that play an important role in the Flemish, federal and European elections. From purchasing power to security, from climate to migration.

“Every day, a passionate team of about twenty journalists examines the statements of our politicians and action groups. This may concern things they say in a television or radio studio or that they share on social media. Our forces help us for more than two weeks. By bundling together, we reach a much larger audience and we can refute or interpret incorrect or misleading information more quickly. And we do this on as many platforms as possible: from television to social media.”

Luc Van Bakel, editor-in-chief of the VRT NWS check editorial team

One of the partners in Brussels is the journalistic research program Pointer of the Dutch public broadcaster KRO-NCRV. They are involved in a larger collaboration with VRT in the fight against Dutch-language disinformation.

“There is a lot at stake in the European elections. It revolves around major themes such as climate change and migration – topics where misinformation lurks. That is why we think it is important to organize a fact-check marathon in the run-up to the elections so that voters can cast their votes based on the facts. Through the collaboration with AD and Nieuwscheckers, but also with the Belgian colleagues from VRT, Factcheck.Vlaanderen, Knack and deCheckers, we can have maximum impact with our fact checks.”

René Sommer, editor-in-chief of KRO-NCRV journalism

Via, Flemish people can also request fact checks themselves or identify political statements that they would like to have checked. All fact checks from the marathon will appear on the VRT NWS website and app, on social media and in election programs on radio and television.

Major international cooperation on disinformation

Within the Flemish-Dutch collaboration ‘BENEDMO’, VRT joins forces on fact checking. The project receives funding and support from the European Commission. Over the next three years, VRT will coordinate this international collaboration between BENEDMO fact-checkers and other EDMO hubs to combat disinformation. Their research will result in innovative news stories for Flemish and Dutch audiences. Next to this, BENEDMO will also expand its focus on media literacy. In its work, BENEDMO’s network remains essential to engage relevant civil society organisations and domain experts on the various challenges surrounding disinformation, such as the impact of artificial intelligence.

Read more: VRT: Embracing AI for the public good

BENEDMO has already built a network of 200 disinformation experts from Flanders and the Netherlands over the past two years. This allows factcheckers, academics, media literacy organisations and other relevant social actors to easily exchange experiences, practical knowledge and expertise. Within the project, several tools were developed for factcheckers, journalists and the general public. BENEDMO also worked on an overview of effective interventions to increase media literacy. Monthly fact-check overviews were published and larger fact-checking collaborations were initiated, such as the collaboration around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. BENEDMO is part of a larger European project (EDMO) in which several countries work together to tackle disinformation in different languages.

The fact-check marathon can be followed from May 27 to election day June 9 (June 6 for the Dutch) via all VRT NWS platforms and on