Nieuwscheckers win Mr. K.J. Cath Prize and thank Donald Trump
Nieuwscheckers, a team of journalist fact-checkers from Leiden University, received the Mr. K.J. Cath Prize at the opening of the academic year on 5 September. This biennial prize is awarded to students or staff who have enhanced the University’s good name.
Martijn Ridderbos, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board, presented the prize. ‘Nieuwscheckers’ work,’ said Ridderbos, ‘is an ode to the value of science – the value-free production and verification of knowledge – and a good example of how we as Leiden University can, and wishes to, serve society. Not only researchers but also politicians and policymakers can only do their work if this is based on knowledge and checked facts.’
Nieuwscheckers is a fact-checking project within the Journalism and New Media programme that is coordinated by news experts Peter Burger and Alexander Pleijter.
The project helps the public evaluate news and information. ‘We do so by checking dubious claims by public figures (like politicians) and by fact-checking news media, but also by teaching the public to be critical of the information they receive. We are trying to improve the quality of the public debate.’
Nieuwscheckers also teach students doing the University’s Journalism and New Media programme how to use fact-checking methods and tools so that they, as the future generation of journalists, can evaluate and verify information.
News experts Peter Burger and Alexander Pleijter were delighted to receive the 2,500-euro prize on behalf of the Nieuwscheckers team. They jokingly thanked Donald Trump, without whom they would have never started checking the accuracy of politicians’ claims in the first place.