First Check is a unique collaborative pan-Asia project in terms of its format and approach. This initiative is bringing journalists, doctors and technologists together to identify and combat medical misinformation, rumours and unscientific claims. From vaccines and infectious viruses to cancer drugs and lifestyle diseases, there are thousands of fake health news stories, hoaxes and rumours flooding the internet. While some of this information may only result in a little confusion as to what you should eat or how much exercise you need, others can have more serious effects.
We at First Check aim to debunk unscientific claims and medical misinformation. We investigate, research and verify dubious claims and fake information gaining momentum on the internet including social media and traditional media and ensure that we provide correct, error free reportage while debunking misleading claims on health issues.
Our team of doctors, technologists and journalists are crawling the internet and social media to debunk misinformation about medicine and health.
First Check is an initiative of Health Analytics Asia which is run by OW DataLeads – an independent media organisation and registered as a private limited company in India.
First check is a signatory of the IFCN code of principles. This includes a commitment to: nonpartisanship and fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of funding and organization, transparency of methodology and an open and honest corrections policy. If you believe First Check has not respected the code of principles, you can directly inform the International Fact-Checking Network here.
Founded by Syed Nazakat, an award-winning journalist, First Check is an independent, fact-checking arm of Health Analytics Asia. Jisha Krishnan, the Editor of First Check, leads a dynamic team of journalists and fact-checkers from across the globe in this endeavour to sift facts from health myths and misinformation, particularly on social media. The initiative is supported by a volunteer team of health experts worldwide. Read more about the team here.
Syed Nazakat is an award-winning Indian journalist, media entrepreneur, founder of DataLEADS, a digital media company which runs Health Analytics Asia. He works at the intersection of media, open data, technology and governance. He leads DataLEADS in New Delhi, as well as oversees its outreach across Asia with different partners, including with Google. He has worked in senior positions at different media organisations and his work has earn him global recognition and awards. He is passionate about open data, public health and the intersection of technology and media, and is a frequent speaker on these issues across conferences and media outlets globally. He holds B.Sc degree from India and Master’s degree in Journalism from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.
With over 13 years of experience as a medical practitioner, Dr Sabba has undertaken variety of roles in medical practice, medical emergency, infection control, surveillance, coordination and operation support. She has also worked as a medical officer in J&K. She is trained in health management with interest in structure and functioning of the health systems. Her diverse experience makes the organisation unparalleled in its spirit to undertake intersectional work. She holds MBBS from Government Medical College Srinagar and Diploma In Health And Family Welfare Management (DHFM) from the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India.
Surbhi Pandit Nangia heads the outreach and partnership team at Health Analytics Asia. She has over 20 years of experience in media with expertise in marketing and sales. Surbhi started her career with The New Indian Express and then moved on to Business Week as Country Representative. She also worked as Vice President - Sales and marketing with Planman Media and then with Media plus Publishing Ltd (Hong Kong). She did her Bachelor's in Commerce and then MBA with a specialization in International Marketing. Given her rich experience in marketing and sales, she is also the person responsible for finance and client communication. She not only likes to dress to nines but also loves to keep everyone buoyant and cheerful. She is the positive energy mill of the organisation.
Jisha is our chief editor who reports, edits and writes weekly newsletter covering different issues including medical myths and misinformation. With over 15 years of experience in newsroom leadership, Jisha is a thorough planner, methodical writer and editor. She led health reporting at India’s leading news magazine, The Week. She reported on health and lifestyle and was issue editor of SmartLife magazine. She is based in Bengaluru and holds degree in law, master’s degree in English Literature and post-graduate diploma in Journalism. She is also a member of Google News Initiative India Training Network for fact-checking.
Varadarajan Ananthakrishnan is working as the Director of Training and Research at First Check. A Science Graduate, he has extensively worked with television channels in the news and current affairs space in his 28-year long career. He has led media training workshops for journalists in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. He is Google News Initiative India Training Network fact-check trainer and has conducted online verification trainings across India. He was Content Head for the Media Ownership Monitor project which is a part of a global research and advocacy effort to promote transparency and media pluralism.
Abeen Shayiq is our senior research analyst and social media moderator helping the editorial team look for medical misinformation and debunk them through fact check stories. She implements her social media monitoring skills to make sure no new misleading trend goes unnoticed. Writing is her passion and her mantra is to serve the audience through storytelling. Abeen has an English Honours degree from Delhi University and has completed her MA from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Tej Kumar is a Research associate & Fact Checker who works on social media monitoring at Dataleads. He likes to debunk misinformation, particularly related to health. His interests vest in the online investigation to enhance facts rather than myths. Tej has a Masters degree in Journalism from EFL University, Hyderabad and a technical degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
Pratibha is the Program Associate at DataLEADS. Her work involves social media monitoring and writing fact-check articles. Her faith in the importance of unbiased information keeps her motivated to keep going. She holds her Bachelors from Delhi University with English and History majors. She has worked previously with organisations such as WWF-India, Global health Strategies and ASM. There’s nothing she loves more than a good mystery.
Tariq, our Data Analyst - Lead, works closely with the core editorial team on data research, visualisation and data mapping. Tariq is passionate about journalism and wants to use his technical skills to tell the stories hidden in numbers and data. He holds a Bachelors degree in Electronics Engineering from the Aligarh Muslim University in India, and a Masters in Control Systems Engineering from the HAN University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. In the past, Tariq has executed R&D projects with stakeholders like the Dutch government, Bosch and Tata Steel Europe.
Fatima is a Data Analyst who works on data sourcing, data cleaning, analysis and visualisations. Her interests lie in data analytics and mining techniques. Fatima has a Bachelor’s degree in Biosciences and a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Jamia Millia Islamia. She previously worked at the School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, where she developed a project on extraction of valuable information from a large corpus of scientific journals using Natural Language Processing and Data mining techniques.
Bhargavi works as a Junior Analyst at First Check. She mainly works on data cleaning, data analysis and visualisations. Her interests lie in playing around with large amounts of data and searching for hidden insights. Bhargavi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Tezpur University. She found her interest in this field because she believes that data, when used properly, can tell stories and that data analytics can help us make impactful decisions in this data-driven world.
Hashim is our Senior Video Producer. He holds a postgraduate degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kashmir University and a Diploma in Visual Journalism from Ateneo De Manila University in the Philippines. He has previously worked as a producer for The Kashmir Monitor, and trained over a hundred journalists on mobile journalism. Food gives him happiness, but he also likes to stay updated with the new trends in visual storytelling.
Aliya Zainab is the Assistant Video Editor. Her work revolves around editing and developing video content ideas for all the verticals of DataLEADS. She has completed her Bachelors in English from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi and has a rousing passion for reading and video editing. She chose the field of video editing because she thrives on the feeling of being able to take a bunch of elements and turn it into something focused. When stressed, she seeks solace in cooking.
Shashank is a Video Editor Intern at DataLEADS. He has graduated with a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Christ University, Bangalore. He is passionate about storytelling, be it visual or textual. He believes that storytelling is the best way to make a mark in this crowded world. Shashank loves to go on backpacking trips which helps him explore his creative side.