Library U Fake News

A Four-Part Lecture Series
September 23, 30, October 7 & 21 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave. N., Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Free ~ Donations Welcome!

             Library U, an adult education program of the Bainbridge Public Library, invites the community to a free, four-part Saturday morning series that examines the history and techniques of "fake news,” how to recognize and combat it, and the state of our local news media.             

Although the term "fake news” didn’t garner Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year honors until 2016, this dubious journalistic practice has been with us a long time.             

The New York Sun’s "Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 claimed that there was an alien civilization on the moon, and established the Sun as a leading, profitable newspaper. In 1844, anti-Catholic newspapers in Philadelphia falsely claimed that Irishmen were stealing bibles from public schools, leading to violent riots and attacks on Catholic churches. During the Gilded Age, yellow journalism flourished, using fake interviews, false experts, and bogus stories to spark sympathy and rage as desired. In the 1890s, William Randolph Hearst and his Morning Journal used exaggeration to help start the Spanish-American War; when Hearst’s correspondent in Havana wired that no conflict was in sight, Hearst famously responded: "You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” Hearst published fake drawings of Cuban officials strip-searching American women—and the war was on.             

One silver lining in the long and alarming history of fake news is that yellow journalism and its results caused a backlash and sent the public in search of more fact-based and unbiased news. This sparked the rise in turn-of-the-century America of relatively objective journalism as the industry standard. For the first time, American papers hired reporters to cover local beats and statehouses, building a chain of trust between reporters and the public.            

While partisan reporting and sensationalism never really went away (just check out supermarket newsstands), objective journalism did become a successful business model—and, until recently, the dominant one.             

It wasn’t until the rise of internet-generated news that our era’s journalistic norms were seriously challenged and fake news became a powerful force again. Whatever its other cultural and social merits, our digital ecosystem seems to have evolved into a near-perfect environment for the flourishing of fake news. At the same time, the digital news trend has decimated the force—measured in both money and manpower—of the traditional, objectively minded, independent press. What to do now? 

Here’s the Library U series lineup: 

September 23: "Filter Bubbles and Fake News: The Evolution of Journalism and Community in the Age of Social Media.” T. Andrew Wahl, journalism professor at Everett Community College, will discuss the history of fake news, examine how the digital revolution has contributed to the growing fractionalization of our nation, and suggest steps we can take to course correct. Listen to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of the talk.

September 30: "Finding ‘Fake News’ in Times of Crisis: Online Rumors, Conspiracy Theories, and Disinformation.” The complex and dynamic problem of online "fake news” lies at the intersection of technology, human cognition, and human behavior—and may make us unwitting accomplices to the spread of incorrect facts and misleading information. Kate Starbird, University of Washington assistant professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, will discuss her recent research, which examines the alternative media ecosystem through the production of conflicting narratives of mass shooting events on Twitter. Listen to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of the talk.

October 7: "Local News: Fake News, Filched News, and Fading News.” Long-time Seattle journalist David Brewster will present a multifaceted talk on the state of our local news media that includes: his various efforts at creating journalism outlets in our region (Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, Eastsideweek, Crosscut); what ails Seattle media (smart audiences, not-so-smart local media, and why); an overview of public radio, KCTS, KING, Seattle Times and PI; the impact of The Stranger; our business press; some national outlets here (Grist, ArtsJournal, Yes!); Seattle readers and the media they tend to crave; what makes a good journalist and the dangers of partisanship; and some solutions. Listen to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of the talk.

October 21: "The Fake News Survival Guide: Resources and Tips for Staying Informed.” Di Zhang, reference librarian at the Seattle Public Library, will lead an SPL-developed workshop that provides an overview of fake news and the information cycle, instructions on how to evaluate information, and resources/best practices for identifying fake news. Click here for additional Fake News survival resources. Listen to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of the talk. If you would like to view a video of the talk, click here.

Library U is a program at the Bainbridge Public Library that offers a variety of free lifelong learning opportunities throughout the year. More information can be found at and at Questions? Email .  

Although Library U courses are free (with donations appreciated), space is limited – please come early for the best seats. Enjoy refreshments while you wait for the program to begin!  

Library U
Library U BCB Podcast - Sept 23
Listen below to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of Andrew Wahl's talk of September 23rd about Fake News - Filter Bubble Effect
Library U BCB Podcast - Sept 30
Listen below to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of Kate Starbird's talk of September 30th about Fake News in times of crisis, such as mass shootings.
Listen below to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of David Brewster's talk of October 7 about the state of local news.
Library U BCB Podcast - Oct 21
Listen below to Bainbridge Community Broadcasting's recording of Di Zhang's talk of October 21 about Fake News survival resources.