In recent years, a constant stream of fraudulent news stories has given rise to troubling cultural trends and alarming political movements across the world.
False claims, misleading factoids, unsound exaggerations, propaganda, hoaxes, rumors, questionable advertising, radical extremism and other types of misinformation and disinformation are now being masqueraded and distributed as news.
In October 2019, the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong (HKU Journalism) co-established a daily fact-checking newsroom in partnership with ANNIE (Asian Network of News & Information Educators), a not-for-profit organization focusing on news literacy education in Asia.
Annie Lab offers a lab environment that simulates a working newsroom.
It is a hybrid of professional news organization and student training program based on the pedagogical models developed by ANNIE and supervised by faculty members of HKU Journalism, all of whom are former journalists who have worked in various Asian countries.
Every fact check by students goes through editorial scrutiny by the faculty members at the Journalism & Media Studies Centre. Currently, we have three editors and one administrative faculty staff involved in Annie Lab every day.
Cherry Lai / Guiding Editor
Cherry is a teaching assistant at HKU Journalism and works as one of the two guiding editors in Annie Lab. She joined the university in June 2020. Before beginning a career in teaching fact-checking, Cherry was a senior radio reporter at Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), covering healthcare policies and medical news. Cherry started her journalism career as a newspaper reporter at Mingpao.
Purple Romero / Guiding Editor
Purple is a teaching assistant at HKU Journalism and also a guiding editor. As an experienced multimedia journalist, she has produced reports on the environment, gender issues, labor migration and foreign relations for such news organizations as Rappler, Channel News Asia, South China Morning Post and VICE. Before joining Annie Lab, Purple also worked as a member of the fact-checking team at AFP Philippines.
Masato Kajimoto / Supervising Editor
Masato is an associate professor of practice at HKU Journalism and also the founder of ANNIE. He specializes in misinformation ecosystem research and development of pedagogical models, especially in the field of news literacy education including fact-checking. Before joining HKU, Masato worked as an online reporter and web producer at CNN International.
All stories featured on our website are written by HKU students who work in shifts Monday through Friday under the editorial guidance of the faculty members. About a dozen students are involved in fact-checking every week. Each of our stories carries a byline that shows reporters’ names. For a sensitive story, however, we use “Annie Lab Team” byline for security concerns.
Annie Lab’s operation is tied to credit-bearing journalism courses at the University of Hong Kong, a publicly funded tertiary institution. ANNIE donates a certain amount of money annually to the Journalism and Media Studies Centre in order to support its journalism teaching activities.
ANNIE is a registered company limited by guarantee with a not-for-profit structure in Hong Kong. Its annual report will be publicly available and searchable starting from late 2021 after its first tax filing (through Hong Kong government’s Companies Registry — CR number 2890935).
HKU Journalism accepts direct donations from external funders; in 2020, it received the following donations:
- ANNIE: HK$380,000 (about US$49,000)
- Google News Initiative: HK$120,000 (about US$15,000)
As of December 31, 2020, Annie Lab has published 116 stories since its inception in October 2019, out of which 79 articles are in English and 37 articles are in traditional or simplified Chinese (translated stories included).
Annie Lab follows strict editorial guidelines, labeling systems and standards.
It became a member of the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute in February 2020. Its work has also been recognized by Duke Reporters’ Lab as one of the global fact-checking sites.
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