USA TODAY's Fact Check Guidelines

Our fact-check program upholds the standards and ethics that guide our entire newsgathering and reporting process.

USA TODAY is also a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network, which reviews our work to ensure it is done in accordance with the IFCN Code of Principles.

We are fair and balanced in the material we choose to fact check. We will promptly address claims of inaccuracy and, if an error is found, we will publish a correction.

Column: Fact-checking is built on transparency. We invite you to check our work.

How do we find material to fact check?

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram. We review content that is published on those platforms as part of the company's effort to combat the spread of false news and misinformation. We also monitor news reports, other social media platforms and search engine trends for potential claims.

Readers wishing to submit claims to be considered for fact-checking can reach our team at

How do we choose our topics?

In selecting the items to fact check – because we can’t check them all – we focus on ones that make a clear assertion, are on a topic of significance and are spreading enough to merit a response. Though we don’t keep count, we do strive for balance – ideologically and geographically – in our fact checks.

Claims we avoid fact checking include those that are forward-looking, that are built on opinions rather than factual assertions or that are spreading only within a limited group of people.

How do we research a fact check?

Our reporters follow a consistent process to ensure each claim is treated fairly and consistently. That process includes:

  • Asking the person who made the claim for evidence to back up the assertion, then researching that material.

  • Interviewing subject matter experts, typically multiple experts, to gather a variety of perspectives and ensure we understand the expert consensus on the topic.

  • Reviewing primary source documents related to the claim.

  • Seeking official, nonpartisan sources such as city halls, statehouses and Congress for bills, voting records and budget information; state and federal records for corporate information, and agencies such as the IRS and FEC for relevant data.

Transparency is a core value for our team, so all sources used are hyperlinked in the story text and listed at the bottom of every fact check.

How do we edit our fact checks?

First, before a fact check is undertaken, a reporter reviews the claim with an editor and discusses the approach.

Once the story is written, an editor carefully reviews the fact check for tone and to ensure the sourcing is transparent, relevant and trustworthy. The editor and reporter work together to confirm that every statement in the story is accurate and the wording used is fair. They then choose a rating.

After that, another fact-check editor reviews their work. If there are any concerns, they enlist the guidance of a senior editor.

What are our fact-check ratings?

We’ve tried to keep our story format and ratings system as straightforward as possible. You’ll generally see this structure in each of our stories:

A short explanation of what we’re checking.

A section describing the context, where we’ll explain the circumstances around the topic as well as what we’ve discovered in our research.

A summary of our findings.

Those findings will explain how and why we arrived at our rating. We use the same rating system outlined in the Meta fact-checking program:

  • False – Content that has no basis in fact.

  • Altered – Image, audio, or video content that has been edited or synthesized beyond adjustments for clarity or quality, in ways that could mislead people.

  • Partly false – Content has some factual inaccuracies (a mix of true and false elements).

  • Missing context – Content that implies a false claim without directly stating it.

  • Satire – Content that uses irony, exaggeration, or absurdity for criticism or awareness, particularly in the context of political, religious, or social issues, but that a reasonable user would not immediately understand to be satirical.

  • True – Content that contains no inaccurate or misleading information.

Who is on the fact-check team?

Fact checks are reported by journalists on our Fact Check team, under the guidance of two veteran editors with extensive experience in fact checking:

  • Eric Litke leads the team, where he has worked as an editor since April 2021. He oversees hiring, standards, training, story assignments and all other daily operations. Eric previously worked as a reporter for PolitiFact Wisconsin, a data reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and an investigative reporter for the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Investigative Team. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul and a master's degree in data science from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay.

  • Brad Sylvester has worked as an editor on the team since September 2022. He previously worked as a reporter, editor and managing editor at Check Your Fact. Brad has a bachelor's degree from Fordham University.

What if we need to correct something?

We recognize that mistakes may happen – or that new information can emerge after a story is published – and we pledge to address all concerns quickly, fairly and transparently.

If a correction or clarification is warranted, we will highlight that in the original fact check and explain to readers why the change was made. Any correction or clarification would also be published on our corrections log.

We are a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network's Code of Principles. If you believe we have violated these principles, you can inform the IFCN using this form.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact Check: Guidelines for USA TODAY's fact check program