Fighting Fake News

June 6–20, 2017

Live Sessions on Tuesdays at 1:00 PM ET: June 6, 13 & 20

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Fighting Fake News

Libraries are one of the few institutions that most Americans still trust. In polarized times, they can serve as nonpartisan, non-judgmental sources of accurate information—and, just as important, help users learn to evaluate the information they encounter every day. Claims of “fake news” have vaulted once-dry information literacy into the spotlight. To seize the teachable moment, this online course will offer up-to-date tools and effective tactics to enable patrons to critically assess sources, facts, and context.

Over the course of three weeks, participants will listen in on live keynote sessions and receive personal attention and resources from a dedicated advisor in an online coaching environment. Participate in online discussion groups, where you can share and gather resources and best practices and with peers from across the country.

Register before April 28th to take advantage of our special early-bird rate.

By the end of the 3-week course, participants will learn

  • How to understand and communicate the importance of media literacy
  • What tools are available to be able to vet news for patrons and students
  • How to communicate clearly to patrons and students what fake news is, why it is in their best interest to be media literate, and how they can investigate on their own (particularly gnarly for public librarians, whose target audience may not always be receptive or who may not have come seeking enlightenment)
  • How to help facilitate patrons and students to confront their own biases
  • How to understand and communicate the particular role social media plays in the propagation of fake news
  • How to give students and patrons a sense that they have some control over their information flow, that they are not helpless

Who should take this course?

This course is relevant for public, academic, and school librarians, particularly public librarians who have a forward-facing/reference role.

Group discounts are available!

Register in groups for a unique team-building experience and get everyone working together. Contact us to learn more.

Online course features

  • Instructor-led online courses feature personalized interaction over four weeks
  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live webcast (with recordings available afterward)
  • Weekly homework assignments to help you make progress on your goals
  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment to help sort out challenges
  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums
  • Articles, videos and other resources


Course Schedule

WEEK 1: Tuesday, June 6, 2017


1:00-1:30 PM ET

Our course advisor will lead you on a guided tour of the online classroom, explain how the assignments and homework groups work, and take any of your questions to help get you set up for our live keynote session.


Carmen Scheidel, CEO,; partner to Library Journal Professional Development

SESSION 1: Fake News in the Real World

1:30-2:15 PM ET

Fake news trickles into everyday interactions: with colleagues, patrons, family, and friends. This session will help you learn how to navigate interactions with others influenced by fake news, specifically at your library, in the course of one-on-one interactions such as reference interviews, readers’ advisory, or just chatting at the welcome desk. We’ll offer advice on how to gauge their level of receptivity to being presented with correct information, or better yet, to tools for finding it on their own, and how to demonstrate not just the method for, but the benefit of, checking the accuracy of news in their own lives. They will also offer examples of these interactions, including where the patrons themselves want advice on how to engage with family and friends who are citing inaccurate stories on social media or in person.


Amy Koester
Amy Koester
, Youth & Family Program Supervisor, Skokie Public Library (IL)

SESSION 2: How to Recognize Bias

2:15-3:00 PM ET

This instructional session taught by a librarian will cover guidelines on how to spot bias in general, as well as on social media, with a special focus on how to differentiate between reports that are legitimately made up, reports that are true but presented out of context or in a misleading or exaggerated way, and reports that are factually accurate but interpreted through a partisan or ideological point of view. We will also examine how the same statistics can easily be interpreted in opposing ways and how to help students and news consumers understand what to look for and what to question when analyzing data.

The session will call out the difference between overt and covert bias, offering examples of each, and help librarians communicate strategies for teaching users to weigh the factors in play and confirm news from multiple reliable sources—including following the trail back to the original source. We’ll also address “filter bubbles” and how social media and source choice influence exposure to different news.


Laurie Alexander
Laurie Alexander
, Associate University Librarian for Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan Library

WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SESSION 1: Keynote with Bill Adair, Politifact Founder

1:00-1:45 PM ET

In this keynote presentation, Bill Adair—one of the foremost experts on fact-checking and founder of Politifact—will deliver an orientation to the problem of fake news and a call to action on the solution: What fake news is, why it persists and proliferates, why it matters now more than ever, and how to fight it. Along the way, he’ll provide a brief history of Politifact, the Pulitzer-Prize winning fact-checking website, and what he envisions for its future. He’ll also address the pitfalls of a purely fact-checking approach to fighting fake news, specifically what happens when people don’t know when to check facts or when facts conflict with pre-existing beliefs. Because Politifact is a non-partisan, trusted source, much as libraries are, he will share lessons on how to leverage that position through education.


Bill Adair
Bill Adair
, Knight Professor for the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy, Duke University; Founder of PolitiFact

SESSION 2: How Can You Tell Fake News from Real News?

1:45-2:30 PM ET

In this session, our guest speaker will give clear guidelines on how to differentiate between trusted sources from not-trustworthy sources, how and where to check facts (or “alternative facts”), as well as how to detect satire and advertising as well as “sponsored content,” “branded content,” “native advertising,” and other synonyms for content that is generated by or on behalf of advertisers. They will review resources and tools—library held and open-web alike—for users and librarians to check facts in real time.


Gary Price
Gary Price
, MLIS; Cofounder and Editor, Library Journal‘s infoDOCKET; Information Industry Analyst; Librarian @infodocket

WEEK 3: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SESSION 1: When Fact Checking Backfires: Curiosity and Emotion are Key 

1:00 PM-1:45 PM ET

Learn how to fight fact backlash, paying close attention to the idea that just giving people facts that contradict their established belief is not effective; two things that have been shown to mitigate that effect are curiosity and emotional connection. Using this information, we will help libraries use language to encourage curiosity and incorporate a number of ideas to provide emotional context and connection with others.

SESSION 2: Get with the Program: Building Curricula, Programs, and Tools to Fight Fake News

1:45-2:30 PM ET

This session will give instruction on how to create effective programs and handouts for patrons as well as library outreach online. Special attention will be paid on how to keep it nonpartisan, from getting heated and/or embarrassing someone, how to adapt your approach in blue/red regions, and how to avoid loaded language that might hit hot buttons on current issues, Lastly, we will discover how libraries can prevent falling into a false equivalence (due to the majority of evidence heavily favoring one side over the other) and how to be clear about facts without alienating users who may view statements as partisan, how to explain confirmation bias and how to navigate around it, as well as how to reach an audience who may not realize fake news is an issue for them, how to bring them into events.


Damaso Reyes
Damaso Reyes
, New York Program Manager, The News Literacy Program