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Telling stories with data

Telling stories with data: FactCheckNI session at Global Fact 7
by Allan LEONARD
29 June 2020

As part of the annual summit of the International Fact-Checking Network, FactCheckNI hosted “Telling Stories with Data” at Global Fact 7, an online session that explored the use of data in news and information presented to the public. I moderated the conversation between John Campbell (Business and Economics Editor at BBC Northern Ireland) and Niall O’Neill (statistician at the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)). The session aimed to impart an appreciation of the importance of the integrity of trustworthy official data sources and the benefits that this has for fact-checking organisations, through good working relationships with statistics agencies.

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It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths

It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths
by Allan LEONARD for FactCheckNI
14 April 2020

“The figures on deaths relate in almost all cases to patients who have died in hospital and who have tested positive for COVID-19. Slight differences in reporting in devolved administrations may mean that they include a small number of deaths outside hospital.” — Department of Health and Social Care (UK)

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Asking the right questions for a better-informed public

Asking the right questions for a better-informed public
by Allan LEONARD
28 January 2020

Representing FactCheckNI and as part of a four-person panel, I was invited to give evidence to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies. Fellow witnesses were Ed Humpherson (Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR)), Will Moy (Chief Executive, Full Fact), and Jenni Sargent (Managing Director, First Draft).

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Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers?

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers?
by Allan LEONARD for FactCheckNI
6 December 2019

As part of the annual general meeting of NICVA, the umbrella body of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, there was a panel discussion on the topics of truth, trust, and how everyone engages with a bombardment of information. Entitled, “Lies and Democracy: The Fight for the Truth”, BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Seamus McKee, moderated the discussion with panellists Amanda Ferguson, John Barry, and Orna Young.

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The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan
by Allan LEONARD
3 October 2019

Sheelagh Murnaghan was the only Liberal Party MP (1961-69) in the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the venue for a launch event of a new biography about her remarkable life. There were many Murnaghan family members in the audience of a few dozen attending.

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Beyond fake news: Working collaboratively to address misinformation #NICSLive

Beyond fake news: Working collaboratively to address misinformation #NICSLive
by Allan LEONARD for FactCheckNI
15 May 2019

FactCheckNI is becoming a regular feature of the annual NICS Live event, which brings together figures from across the Northern Ireland Civil Service as well as the wider public, private and voluntary sectors. This year was our third consecutive appearance, and I gave a presentation on “Beyond fake news: Working collaboratively to address misinformation”, discussing some key features of fact checking and the role that facts play in the political sphere of opinions and persuasion.

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Developing an esprit de corps to transform health and social care services

Developing an esprit de corps to transform health and social care services
by Allan LEONARD
4 April 2019

I delivered the following speech at a presentation on Integrated Care Partnerships, at a conference event, “Transformation: Paving the Way Forward”, organised by the Northern Ireland Healthcare Leadership Form (NIHLF):

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Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news?

Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news?
by Allan LEONARD
26 February 2019

As part of their engagement programme, Queen’s University Belfast hosted a lecture by radio and television personality, Stephen Nolan, who was introduced by Ryan Feeney. Much of Nolan’s lecture was an autobiography of how he has developed his career in journalism and working for the BBC. His views on the topics in the lecture title — “Enhancing the Democratic Debate in the Era of Fake News” — were teased out during the question and answer session.

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Country before party? A UUP book launch discussion

Country before party? A UUP book launch discussion
by Allan LEONARD
24 January 2019

At a launch event for the book, The Ulster Unionist Party: Country before Party?, there was a roundtable discussion with three speakers who all have or had involvement with the party — Mike Nesbitt (UUP Leader, 2012-17), Lauren Kerr (UUP Press & Policy Officer), and Alex Kane (former UUP Director of Communications). After their opening remarks, the audience pitched about a dozen questions on topics that ranged from unionist identity, Brexit, party electoral pacts, Catholic support, to party strategic choices and options.

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The end of Catholic Ireland?

The end of Catholic Ireland? 
by Allan LEONARD
6 November 2018

In what Alan Meban described the event as a symposium (“but don’t say it was in a bar” [The Dark Horse Inn]), Dr Gladys Ganiel, a sociologist of religion from Queen’s University Belfast, laid out quantitative and qualitative findings about the apparent secularisation process in Ireland. This was discussed by fellow panellists Pádraig Ó Tuama (poet, theologian and leader of Corrymeela) and Professor Margaret O’Callaghan (historian, Queen’s University Belfast). The event was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science and hosted by Slugger O’Toole.

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Earning trust “story by story”

Earning trust “story by story”:
Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age
by Allan LEONARD for FactCheckNI
4 October 2018

Ulster University — along with the UK press regulatory body, Impress, and the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) — jointly hosted a symposium event at its Belfast campus: “Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age”. Keynote speakers were Jonathan Heawood (Chief Executive Officer, Impress) and Peter Feeney (Press Ombudsman, Press Council of Ireland).

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Book review: A Job to Love (The School of Life)

Book review: A Job to Love (The School of Life)
by Allan LEONARD
28 April 2018

I acquired A Job to Love by The School of Life (founder and chairman, Alain DE BOTTON) when I had pretty much decided to enter the job market of the freelancer. So perhaps this read was for self-affirmation.