Launched May 1st 2017, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’ (CILIP) new ‘Facts Matter’ campaign will run concurrently with the 2017 General Election campaign. Having watched this year’s Scottish Leaders’ Debate, I can appreciate the urge to plug the evidence-based information gap between political parties and voters. Broad-brush statements, lack of context, and accusations of “telling porkies” coloured Sunday’s debate, highlighting the ever growing need for all political parties to not only present, but actively support evidence-based information, before we go to the polls.
In the fight against fake news, CILIP are enlisting the support of: professional librarians, information and knowledge managers, and data professionals, in partnership with the Information Literacy Group to encourage information and data professionals to share examples of evidence based-information within their communities and organisations, in order to inform those subject to misinformation. The campaign has been divided into three phases:
- Phase 1: Since the announcement of the General Election, CILIP have asked each National Executive Committee of every political party to provide a briefing of their impact on the information profession, and to include key CILIP commitments in their Manifesto.
- Phase 2: Throughout the General Election campaign, CILIP will focus on securing commitment from all political parties to run evidence-based campaigns. CILIP are open to the development of partnerships with other organisations, similarly-minded, in the promotion of evidence as an essential requirement for democracy.
- Phase 3: Following the General Election, #FactsMatter becomes an ongoing activity, with information professionals highlighting the need for decision-ready information to be available to all, in order to develop information literacy and promote the value of information assets.
Each phase is hoped to increase the effectiveness and support the objectives of the campaign: to secure commitment of information professionals in Party Manifestos published during the 2017 General Election campaign; to reinforce the role of evidence and information literacy in public and political life; and provide a platform for the promotion of the information profession in combating fake news, and supporting evidence-based decision-making.
Who’s backing #FactsMatter?
At the time this post was published, three political parties: Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, SDLP, and the Ulster Unionist Party, and a handful (twenty) of Candidates and party members are backing #FactsMatter actively. Whilst the Labour Party, Plaid Cymru, Women’s Equality Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party have all made varying degrees of commitment to libraries and the wider information profession via their Party Manifestos. Not a huge turnout, is it?
Want to get involved?
There’s lots to do. Write to your local electoral candidates, asking them to back the #FactsMatter pledge, and if you happen to work in a library, sign your workplace up to the Electoral Commission’s Roll Call. Most importantly, spread the word. Use the #FactsMatter hashtag on social media, and follow the tips here from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to ensure you’re not supporting fake news.