Fighting Fake News

June 6–20, 2017

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

ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
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.

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.

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

In this free preview webcast, Library Journal‘s Associate News Editor, Lisa Peet, offers five tips to help users combat the fake news problem, and introduces the speaker program for our new three-week course Fighting Fake News.

Group discounts are available!

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


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 address three strategies for infusing these interactions, be they in person or passive, with reliable resources and good information literacy habits. First is perhaps the trickiest: 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. From there, we’ll talk about opportunities for engaging patrons in recognizing the different types of fake news and vetting their news sources through hands-on mini-workshops. Finally, we’ll discuss methods for providing resources and access to reputable information on topics in the news, as well as giving patrons tools to find reliable information on their own. This session will include real-library examples of patron interactions and news literacy-building activities and resources.


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

SESSION 2: Making Bias Visible

2:15-3:00 PM ET

This session will provide opportunities to unpack bias, making visible its role in our news consumption and interactions with the world. Recent concerns and trends about fake news and alternative facts move us beyond good and bad information. It raises an urgency to increase our professional efforts to help students become more critical and reflective. A 140 character limit, a biased news source, a misrepresented statistic, these are the realities of our times. Librarians are particularly valuable partners in helping students learn and become proficient users of all types of information sources. Our goal is to help students develop effective strategies and gain skills, knowledge and competencies as both information consumers and creators. Using lessons developed by Laurie Alexander and Jo Angela Oehrli for a credit course at University of Michigan about fake news for undergraduate students, we will engage participants in activities designed to examine statistics, social issues, and events that happen in the world today.  This session will help librarians develop ongoing strategies to engage users with fake news.


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

WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SESSION 1: Keynote with Bill Adair, PolitiFact Founder: It’s Bigger Than Just Fake News

1:00-1:45 PM ET

In this keynote presentation, Bill Adair—a journalism professor at Duke University and the founder of PolitiFact—will discuss how the problems with our political discourse go beyond just fake news. They involve partisan media, filter bubbles and in some cases, a reluctance to accept facts. 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 explore the partisan divide over fact-checking and what might be done to broaden the reach of fact-checks.


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

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

WEEK 3: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SESSION 1: How Do You Get People To Trust Fact Checking? A Behavioral Science Approach

1:00-1:45 PM ET

Learn how to fight the backfire effect, a psychological phenomenon where people reject factual statements that contradict their established beliefs. Recent behavioral science research shows that the key to fighting the backfire effect involves avoiding triggering emotions of defensiveness or aggression, and instead using curiosity and empathy to establish a positive emotional connection and personal credibility. Using this information, we will help librarians figure out how they can encourage curiosity and empathy, thus establishing a positive emotional connection and helping people update their beliefs toward the truth.


Gleb Tsipursky
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, author of the forthcoming The Alternative to Alternative Facts: Fighting Post-Truth Politics with Behavioral Science; Assistant Professor in the History of Behavioral Science at Ohio State University

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 D. Price, MLIS; Co-Founder and Editor, Library Journal‘s infoDOCKET; Information Industry Analyst; Librarian @infodocket