Fact check: Still not core journalism curriculum

Report from WJEC Roundtable

Keywords: Asia Pacific, Australia, education, fact-check, fake news, journalism education, verification, WJEC


Fact-checking has become a global industry, with more than 417 fact-checking outlets in 100 countries operating in 69 languages (Stencel, Ryan & Luther, 2023). According to the Duke Reporters’ Lab, half of the world’s fact checkers are associated with media outlets, but there are also 24 affiliated with academic institutions. Although the work is time consuming and resource intensive, fact-checking has increasingly been introduced to journalism programmes at universities and in professional settings. This expert article brings together some insights from a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Journalism Education Council (WJEC) roundtable event ‘Fact-Check and Verification as Core Journalism Curriculum’ hosted by RMIT University in Australia in 2021, alongside relevant literature exploring the nature and presence of fact-check based education approaches at that time. It concludes that while fact-checking and verification are important skills for student journalists, fact checkers do not necessarily need to be journalists, nor indeed have journalistic training. However, more students are needed who are excellent journalists and the authors argue that fact-checking is just part of that training.


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Author Biographies

Alexandra Nicole Wake, RMIT University, Melbourne

Alexandra Wake, Senior Lecturer Journalism, School of Media and Communication, RMIT University

Gordon Farrer, RMIT University, Melbourne

Gordon Farrer is a lecturer at RMIT University and was the founder of the Fact Checking and Verification Course in the Journalism programme. He moved from industry to the academy after more than 25 years as a journalist at a variety of organisations, including News Corp and Fairfax, where he held various editorial roles. Farrer is developing a reputation as an international educator and practitioner and researcher in fact checking and verification, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) skills and is as a specialist commentator on fake news, misinformation and journalism practice. He can be found on Twitter at @post_fact where he shares OSINT resources, sets practice challenges for anyone who wants to improve their fact checking and verification skills, and discusses issues relating to journalism and democratic discourse, as well as fact checking and verification.

Sonny Thomas, RMIT University, Melbourne

Sonam Thomas is a researcher and reporter with RMIT ABC Fact Check focusing on the political fact checking of Australian politics. He is also currently undertaking a PhD at RMIT University in conjunction with an Australian Research Council funded project assessing the extent to which election pledges are upheld and assisting in the creation of an election promise tracker covering the upcoming Australian federal political term. Formerly, he studied a Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications and Politics and International Studies) at the University of Melbourne and a Master of Media at RMIT University and held several freelance multimedia production roles. 


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How to Cite
Wake, A. N., Gordon, F., & Thomas, S. (2024). Fact check: Still not core journalism curriculum: Report from WJEC Roundtable. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 30(1and2), 48-62. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v30i1and2.1329