Facts are the most essential element of the media sphere, Source: Depositphotos

Faktograf: The Croatian weapon against fake news

Faktograf: The Croatian weapon against fake news

How one media platform serves the truth against all odds

When talking about Croatia, most foreigners will mention the beauty of our coast, the wonderful landscapes they witnessed, the character of their hosts and the food. However, if you were to talk about Croatia with Croatians, you’d hear about the domestic problems overshadowing the beauty of the country, one of them being the local media.

There are a lot of things one could say about the current state of Croatian media. One of the most recurring topics, however, is the general lack of factual information and the deficit of media outlets, which are not influenced by political parties and can offer an objective overview of a subject while using a priori checked facts.

…and then there was Faktograf

Based on a survey conducted by the Investigative Journalism Laboratory (Jourlab) in Zagreb, Croatians tend to trust journalists more than politicians and judges, but less than priests.

In addition, a “Reporters without borders” yearly report also shows that Croatian media is often interfered with by the government and journalists are forced to work under immense pressure, such as the risk of being both cyber- and physically threatened or sued. Two media companies, Styria and Hanza Media, control most of the market and there are only three major television networks, one of which is publicly owned. Due to all this, a fact-checking project was long overdue. is the first and, currently, the only fact-checking media in Croatia. It started out as a co-publishing project by the Croatian Journalists Association and GONG (a non-partisan association whose main aim is to encourage citizens’ active participation in political processes). Faktograf came to be in 2015 and at that time this type of platform had just started appearing in other countries, too. In 2017, it joined the biggest global fact-checkers network – International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

On its website, Faktograf states that it’s a non-profit media organization, which advocates for the development of good journalism, critical thinking, and an informed public.

They investigate and divide the facts published within the articles in different ways, some statements are measured through objective facts and different perspectives, and some through Meta`s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program. The sources they use also vary in categories. Some of them are official PR statements, scientific research, data collected from civil society and international organizations, while others are opinions from various relevant experts and media sources.

Faktograf publishes the sources used in the article and decides on the anonymity of the source if needed. All the published topics are based on media reports and public discussions on social networks or as answers to the questions of their readers.

The work Faktograf does is defined by their statute and their ethical codex is based on various journalism’ codices, on the IFCN codex, the journalism trust initiative and the EU laws and codices which apply to their services.

Hurdles in the way

However, the reality is that Faktograf itself is not immune to pressure and attacks.

Its journalists seem to face the same set of problems as their colleagues working for other media companies and, in 2021, the news about Faktograf dealing with death and lawsuit threats broke out, reaching the European Federation of Journalists. EFJ paired up with SafeJournalists Network and condemned the threats and intimidation attempts.

In their statement, they claimed that the editorial team at Faktograf started “receiving insulting messages and death threats”, following a Facebook post by entrepreneur Nenad Bakić. At this time, Faktograf also encountered a DDoS attack.

Despite all these attempts, Faktograf still stands. The Covid-19 pandemic and now, the war in Ukraine unravelling before our eyes, are showing us that we might be living in the most fruitful time for the spread of fake news.

Platforms like Faktograf are still the main aid in the fight against misinformation in Croatia. Its existence represents a beacon of hope but also concern about the role and authority of the established media outlets and social networks that seem to eschew the importance of fact-checking.

This article is part of Read Twice – an EU-funded project, coordinated by Euro Advance Association that targets young people and aims to counter disinformation and fake news by enhancing their skills to assess critically information, identify vicious and harmful media content and distinguish between facts and opinions, thus improving their media literacy competences.

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union nor of TheMayor.EU



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