Here is the full script
Accountability and transparency are not lost battles for the people of this neighborhood.
Hello everyone, good morning.
It’s always near to impossible to top Ferdi’s on-stage performance. That was a refreshing start for the day, right?
Welcome to Antalya and welcome to the Fact-Checking Summit Turkey 18.
We are here today for the two-day long summit which is the first international gathering in Turkey on fact-checking and data-driven reporting in particular.
Some of you had been to at least one of the Global Fact Summits organized by the International Fact-Checking Network, the umbrella organization formed of fact-checkers, for the fact-checkers. Since 2014, the community of fact-checkers has been able to organize annual Global Fact summits in London, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and Rome. This gathering has been made possible to by discussions held in Rome this summer during the Global Fact V Summit. Both the IFCN and the organizers of this summit asked this question to themselves.
“Why don’t we organize regionally focused conferences between the Global Facts?”
Doğruluk Payı, a verified signatory, and an organization represented on the advisory board of the IFCN took a step to undertake this responsibility, and you dear colleagues did not leave us on the dark. I thank you all on behalf of my team and the IFCN.
I know its sunny out there, but journalism and press freedom are shadowed in many parts of the world by heavy clouds formed by populism, polarization, and authoritarianism. Fact-checkers are subject to smear campaigns and regulative actions in many parts of the world. Democratic standards are not increasing, if not backsliding, especially in this part of the world. The worst performing countries in press freedom according to the Reporters without Borders are located eastward from Libya to China. Turkey, the home of this summit on fact-checking, is definitely not immune to the negative trend limiting the press freedom around the world. Today, I feel the emotional burden to deliver the opening remarks of the first regional focused fact-checking conference. I hope and believe that this gathering will give the world a strong message that accountability and transparency are not lost battles for the people of this neighborhood.
However, we are privileged to have the will and motivation to carry out our civic duty to hold the powerful in the society accountable and fight against misinformation which is a vital threat to our right to be informed. Fact-checking organizations specialized in measuring the accuracy of political statements and debunking hoaxes invading the social media are doing a work that serves the public good above all. Many fact-checking organizations, especially the non-US ones, are not coming from a journalistic background. Civil society organizations are stepping up to fill the gap that generally the traditional media seemed to ignore due to the fundamental challenges that they face.
Today, in this room, we are diverse in background, experience, and expertise. We have active fact-checkers. We have researchers. Activists are here. The backbone of journalism, yes, reporters are in this room. More than 40% of people in this room are not from Turkey, but from Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czechia, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Lebanon, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Syria, Ukraine, and the United States. .That was a long list, right?
We are a representative group of people that work around the most unifying concept in the world. | Facts!
My dear friend Alexios Mantzarlis, the director of the International Fact-Checking Network, once said that it’s not the topics or the sessions makes these events important, it is the people, and you dear colleagues, definitely make this summit important. I believe you will cherish the time you have here and build not just networks, but friendships.
A fun fact, the average age of this room is 32. Since that’s how old I am, I feel like I’m throwing a big but an early birthday party. In some ways, yes, I think this is going to be like a party. For two days I invite you not to feel depressed about the challenges we face but to celebrate our potential and will to overcome those challenges. When you look at the people in this room, you will realize that even though you don’t know them in person, you do have similar priorities. Priorities on; holding the powerful in the society accountable, building sustainable models to keep our organizations running, and increasing the impact of our work.
What am I going to say next needs to be fact-checked, and I leave the investigation to the fact-checkers in this room. The number and diversity here are higher and more significant than the community’s first gathering in London in 2014. This is not just because Antalya is the tourism capital of the Mediterranean, and lovely in fall, but more importantly, because fact-checking keeps growing as Bill Adair, the founder of Politifact and a dear mentor to many fact-checking organizations in the world, proudly says.
According to the Reporters Lab at Duke University, by this August there were 156 fact-checking organizations in more than 50 countries. If this is nothing but a strong signal that fact-checking keeps growing, I do not know what it is.
Today and tomorrow we will be sharing our experience, needs, and most importantly, solutions to our problems.
Before I conclude my words and leave the floor to discussion, I would like to thank my team who made this gathering possible. In addition to their day-to-day activities this great team made me feel privileged by putting their best ideas and dedication into this summit. Also, please allow me to spare an extra word for Asya, who joined our team less than a year ago as a project coordinator in our data literacy program. For the last couple of months, she acted like a seasoned organizer and proved that this team has more than what it shows.
Last but not least, for the sake of transparency and appreciation, I would like to thank our partners who supported the Fact-Checking Summit Turkey 18. The International Fact-Checking Network’s and the Friedrich Neumann Foundation’s contributions to this summit have been instrumental.
Now, please join me in inviting Bengi Ruken Cengiz, the moderator and a co-founder of Dogruluk Payi, and our panelists; Giovanni Zagni the Director of Pagella Politica, Davit Kutidze the Editor in Chief of Fact-Check Georgia, Lucas Graves, Senior Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and Clara Jimenez the Co-Founder and Head of Project of Maldito Bulo to talk about “Where is Fact-Checking heading in 2019?”
The floor is all yours. Thank you!