Fake News! And How to Spot It-session 1 notes

We had an informative evening last night with MRV Libraries and Dr. Rob Williams during our first of a three part series on “Fake News! and How to Spot It”. Below are the notes from our conversation and time together:

1) What is your “go to” source(s) for “news” and why?

Christian Science Monitor
Wall Street Journal
YouTube – podcasting (Humanist, Dore)
Democracy Now
VT Digger
The Nation
BBC (3)
Daily Wire
Google News (aggregator)
New York Times (3)
NPR (5)
WDEV (5)
Valley Reporter (9)
Twitter – CNN/Jake Tapper, @jessamynwest
Boston Globe – easy to read, connex
On Point – podcast (2)
TIME mag
PBS Washington Week in Review
BOOKS/HISTORY – deep context
Paul Craig Roberts – web site
G Edward Griffin – web site
John Rappaport – web site
Russia Today (RT)
Voltaire – web site
Seven Days – weekly out of Burlington
The Bridge – out of Montpelier
The Week – in print news aggregator
Front Porch Forum
Last Week Tonight w/ John Oliver
Full Frontal w/ Samantha Bee


2) What is your biggest frustration with “news” today?

“Actors,” not Reporters
Opinions, not Facts
Infotainment, not Information
Faux Experts, not Real Experts
Real investigative journalism is rare
Offending advertisers trumps real news
One sidedness
24/7 news cycle – ferocious
Click Bait
Consolidation – 6 TNCs owning 90% of our US media content
“It’s all settled” – science as (non) reported in news outlets
Dakota Access Pipeline – CENSORSHIP
Policing of Language
The sheer amount of time it takes to be thoughtful consumer


REAL NEWS is “Storied” information that has SIX ingredients,:

1)  Recent
2)  Relevant
3)  Reliable
4)   Historically grounded (provides some context)
5)   Hegemonically hip (foregrounds power relations)
6)   Harmonious (multiple viewpoints)


The Age of Information

We live in an Age of Information. No longer resting on industrial production, our economy is now based on computerization and information technology. In some ways it has vastly improved our lives with increased access and connection; the answer to any question or ability to organize a group is seemingly at our fingertips with the swipe of a screen. In other ways, it creates disparity and leaves those without internet behind. And as the exponential growth in information continues we can get lost in the mountains of data available to us. With its free access, resources and expertise in the reference world, libraries can help close this information gap and provide guidance as we do our best to navigate these times.

Then there is “Fake News!”. Misleading or outright fictional stories as news have been around far longer than the most recent election cycle. From the War of the Worlds alien invasion radio scare in 1938, to the 2012 “Eagle Snatches Kid” hoax video created for a university class that got 17 million views in one day, or the most recent indictments of Russian nationals interfering in our electoral process through social media, fake news is made for many reasons. It has become both a common phrase and rallying cry for a variety of groups in recent times. But what exactly is it, what are its real world consequences, and how can you spot it? The MRV libraries are excited to host a series of programs facilitated by media/communications professor and consultant Rob Williams that will explore the who’s, how’s and why’s of Fake News, as well as some filters that can be applied in real time to whatever appears in your news feed.

Fake News and How to Spot It: Towards News we Can Use on Tuesday, March 27th at 7pm at the Moretown School will investigate our current information habits and look at different types of news along with an overview of the propaganda model. On Tuesday, April 3rd at 7pm at the Joslin Library, we will examine Fake News and How to Spot It: the Age of Print. Dr. Williams will take a deep dive into the five filters that explain how US news was created in the 20th Century. The series will conclude with Fake News and How to Spot It: the Age of Digital on Tuesday April 10th at 7pm at the Warren Library, which will cover five filters to help understand news created in the 21st Century. All three workshops are free and open to the public; for more details please contact any of the libraries or visit our websites.

If you prefer books instead of programs for information, stop in and check out some recent additions to our non-fiction collection. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly, we have added “Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Kathryn Harkup. For an exploration of more recent times try, “A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea” by  Masaji Ishikawa. Or, perhaps you are ready to turn off the information stream for a bit, in which case check out “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris. I Hope to see you at the library soon!

Cats in the Library

Cats in the Library
By Luci Fur Strauss, defacto kitty at the Moretown Memorial Library

It was so lovely to see many of the Valley dogs in last week’s paper, including my counterparts Sebastian and Sandy. Although you may not see me everyday, I do enjoy lounging on the library stairs from time to time to introduce myself. Of course, my favorite thing to do in the summer is to arrive unannounced in the middle of storytime at the sunflower house. Children usually shout with delight as they spot my big bushy tail and lion-like mane of fur. After a few pets and pages of the book, I like to wander to a spot nearby to sit and listen to the rest of the story.

I am certainly not the first library cat, in fact my species has been associated with libraries since Ancient Egypt. Our original job was Rodent Control Specialist, however over the years we have also brought a calming presence to our library homes and often provide comic relief as we stuff ourselves into tiny boxes, lounge on people’s open books and generally do all things cat. Perhaps my most famous counterpart is Dewey Readmore Books from Spencer, Iowa. Abandoned in the book drop as a kitten and named after the inventor of the Dewey Decimal system, Mr. Books spent the nineteen years (90 in cat) of his life as staff supervisor. There are even several books for both adults and children on Dewey, including “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by librarian Vicki Myron. As cat enthusiasts can tell you, a simple internet search will lead you to many other great stories of cats and the joy they bring to their libraries.

While you are at the library hoping for a view of me and the possibility I might decide to greet you, I hope you will consider signing up for the workshop on Bullet Journaling for the New Year happening Sunday, January 14th at 4pm. At the intersection of a to-do list, planner and diary, bullet journaling is a creative analog space for organization. The first five people that register to attend by contacting moretownlibrary@gmail.com or 496-9728 will also receive a free journal. If you are from the smaller human crowd, you might enjoy coming to a new after school book club based on movement. The first session of “Move it and READ” will take place at the library on Thursday, January 18th starting at 3pm and features the book “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds. Contact moretowncircdesk@gmail.com for more details or to sign up. Finally, I heartily recommend the first Moretown Open Mic of the season on Friday, January 12th at the Old Town Hall at 7pm. Although you won’t find me inside the library any time soon due to possible allergies and the busy road right out front, do come look for me some summer day, relaxing in the grass behind the library and ready to say hello.