AJ+ Español, the Spanish-speaking channel of AJ+, won the Online Journalism Award (OJA) in the category of Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships for Verificado 2018, a collaborative news verification and fact-checking initiative to fight disinformation during the Mexican electoral process. The channel, based in Mexico City, was awarded during the US-based Online News Association (ONA) 2018 conference that took place on 15 September, in Austin, Texas.
Verificado 2018 was created and co-led by AJ+ Español to debunk stories during the biggest elections ever held in Mexican history, in which 56 million people casted their vote. During 119 days, Verificado verified videos, images, articles and whatsapp chains that circulated on social media about the electoral process and fact-checked politicians' statements. It published its findings through its own website and social media accounts as well as a partner network of 90 organizations across Mexico.
Dima Khatib, Managing Director of AJ+ channels, expressed her excitement for AJ+ receiving the second OJA – the first one being awarded to AJ+ English in 2016, for Excellence in Online Journalism. “AJ+ Español is part of Qatar's Al Jazeera Media Network, has won an award in the United States of America for the journalistic work they did in Mexico. This shows that good journalism knows no boundaries. Now, our Spanish-speaking channel is consistently engaging with media from around the world that want to learn from our experience and adapt Verificado 2018's concept to their local needs in an era of fake news.”
Verificado 2018 is the first initiative of its kind with a dedicated multimedia desk and a WhatsApp line to fight disinformation. The initiative connected with the audience through the hashtag #QuieroQueVerifiquen (#IWantYouToVerify), to receive verification requests and engage with communities through direct messaging, message by message.
In just over three months, Verificado published more than 400 posts and around 100 visuals, including videos, GIFs, loops and social media cards. Its Twitter and Facebook accounts organically reached more than 200,000 followers each, and its WhatsApp line amassed more than 10,000 subscribers. The initiative was mentioned more than 1 million times on Twitter and racked up 2 million interactions on both Twitter and Facebook.
After the end of Verificado 2018 which was specifically tailored for the elections period, AJ+ Español launched a new project, AJ+ VERIFICA, through which the channel will keep verifying content and fact-checking politicians to bring back journalism to digital platforms. You can follow AJ+ Español on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and learn more about the channel on its website.