When we started the research for some claims that could work for us, the amount of possibilities was quite big. We are from two different countries that share almost nothing except for the fact that they are part of the European Union. That means that we could choose within the Spanish political landscape, the Austrian political landscape, or any political landscape where the official language is English. At the end, the claim that seemed to be more interesting was one made by the former chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz.
Choosing a claim that was not in English, the language that we share, had some pros and also some cons. In the first place, it was a clever choice because one of us could perfectly understand where the claim came from and in what political landscape it took place. Nico could perfectly understand how the politics work in Austria, so that made things easier. However, for Marta, dealing with a different political landscape made her feel like she could not do all the work by herself, she depended on Nico’s knowledge and skills. That is true because almost every information that we found about the issue was in German, and although translators exist, it is not easy to understand in a few weeks what has happened in Austria since Kurz was put in charge. Basically, the process of the whole fact-checking was quite conditioned by the language, as a communication barrier, and for Marta’s lack of knowledge on Austrian politics. We can say that one of us had to lead the process.
However, knowledge never killed anyone. With this, we want to point that it has been for both of us a learning. For Marta, it has been a learning in the sense that she went from having zero idea about Austrian politics, to at least having an overall view of what the landscape looks like now. Also, it is not always easy to explain to someone something that you have grown up with. Explaining politics it’s always a difficult task, that is why Nico also had to make an effort.
Finally, we just wanted to add, just as an anecdote, that when we chose this claim we thought that we would prove that Sebastian Kurz was wrong. It might be the image that he has built of himself as a politician, and the way that he makes his statements, but we were quite sure that it could not be possible that he had increased the numbers tenfold. For us, it just sounded just like another lie or fabrication from a politician that wants to say what its audience wants to hear. Yet, his claim was right. Nevertheless, we knew that something had to be hidden within all his words, and we actually proved that Austria is not as good as Kurz would want it to be.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Marta Vidal and Nicolas Lendl
Blog post for the Cross-national fact check by Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain and University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication, Vienna, Austria during an Erasmus exchange at AP University College Antwerp, Belgium
Cartoon by Matthias Laurenz Gräff
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