CHICAGO — The need for accurate information is not new, but the divisive methods to undermine its credibility is. In response to the recent dialogue on fake news and news literacy, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) crafted “Resolution on Access to Accurate Information,” adopted by ALA Council on Jan. 24.
“Resolution on Access to Accurate Information” is based on the 2005 ALA statement “Resolution on Disinformation, Media Manipulation & the Destruction of Public Information.” The 2005 resolution addresses growing concerns of the U.S. government’s use of disinformation to mislead public opinion, specifically citing government-produced “video news releases” and the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The “Resolution on Access to Accurate Information” reaffirms the 2005 statement, but also encompasses recent examples of disinformation and defends journalists’ roles in a free press.
“The Founders enshrined freedom of the press among our preeminent liberties because they knew a free press would act as a powerful check on the excesses of government and all other agents seeking to manipulate public opinion for their own purposes,” said IFC Chair Pam Klipsch. “Librarians care about accuracy because our communities trust us to provide both factual information and a variety of opinion on the issues of the day.”
The new resolution acknowledges the problems of fake news, personalized newsfeeds, web search algorithms and the delay of Freedom of Information Act requests. It states that access to accurate information, rather than censorship, is the best way to counter disinformation and media manipulation.
“The surest route to censorship is to first cast both fact and opinion as equal, and equally suspect,” said Office for Intellectual Freedom Director James LaRue. “Accurate public information — scientific, medical, statistical, journalistic — is one of the foundations of our democracy and our freedoms.”
About ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee
The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, a committee of Council, recommends policies, practices and procedures to safeguard the rights of patrons, libraries and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment and the Library Bill of Rights.
About ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the association’s policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries. OIF supports the work of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. For more information, visit ala.org/oif.