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 coupled with bogus information, 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 project in partnership with ANNIE (Asian Network of News & Information Educators), a not-for-profit organization focusing on news literacy education in Asia.
Annie Lab operates both as a fact-checking online media outlet and a training program for students. We believe this ‘teaching newsroom model’ complements our goal to create a community of factcheckers composed of journalists, students, and the audience, who can learn from each other as they explore evolving fact-checking techniques that can counter changing misinformation strategies.
It is a hybrid of professional training and news literacy education 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.
As of December 17, 2022, Annie Lab has published 295 stories (our archive here) and numerous social media posts since its inception in October 2019.
It follows strict editorial guidelines, labeling systems, and standards.
It became a verified signatory of the Code of Principles by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) on Jan. 20, 2022.
IFCN’s signatory certification is an internationally recognised standard in the field of fact-checking journalism. To be qualified, an organisation must demonstrate its non-partisanship, fairness, transparency, and professional rigor through the quality of its work.
Annie Lab’s work has also been recognized by Duke Reporters’ Lab as one of the global fact-checking sites.
Every fact check by students undergoes editorial scrutiny by the faculty members at the Journalism & Media Studies Centre. Currently, we have four editors (faculty staff) involved in the newsroom operation every day.
Cherry Lai / Supervising Editor
Cherry is a teaching assistant at HKU Journalism and works as one of the two supervising editors. 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 / Supervising Editor
Purple is a teaching assistant at HKU Journalism and also a supervising 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.
Mimi Lau / Managing Editor
Mimi is an assistant lecturer at HKU Journalism and the managing editor of the Annie Lab. Prior to joining the faculty, Mimi was the China Correspondent for the South China Morning Post, covering politics and policies with a focus on human rights, religion, and ethnic affairs. Mimi received numerous awards in her 17-year career covering China and Hong Kong. She was also the host of SCMP’s Inside China podcast.
Masato Kajimoto / Editor-in-chief
Masato is an associate professor of practice at HKU Journalism and also the founder of ANNIE. He specializes in misinformation ecosystem research, news literacy education, fact-checking practice, and press freedom studies, with a strong regional focus on countries in the Asia-Pacific. Before joining HKU, Masato worked as a reporter for 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 half 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 the “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 (tax filing) will be publicly available and searchable through Hong Kong government’s Companies Registry — CR number 2890935.
HKU Journalism accepts direct donations from external funders, and Annie Lab received the following financial support specific to the newsroom operation.
- ANNIE: HK$380,000 (about US$49,000)
- Google News Initiative: HK$120,000 (about US$15,000)
- Google News Initiative: HK$700,000 (about US$90,000)
- Check Global Independent Media Response Fund by Meedan: US$9,000
Address: Eliot Hall, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3917 1155 (HKU Journalism) | +852 3917-8103 (Annie Lab newsroom)
Fax: +852 2858 8736
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com