Staying informed in a post-truth, fake news era

_92276035_istock_19861919_mediumFake news has become a catch-phrase in the modern political arena, but what does it really mean? Is it a label for unethical, biased journalism or a turn-of-phrase for news that doesn’t meet one’s personal agenda? How do you spot fake news, and what do you do about it?

Scholars will explore these ideas and more in a speaker series at Oregon State University this spring.

“As a librarian, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of fake news and how to be an educated consumer of media,” said Laurie Bridges, associate professor and instruction and outreach librarian at Oregon State. “The aim of this speaker’s series is to make sense of the idea of fake news and see how media has been used to both educate and manipulate the public throughout modern history.”

Speakers will make presentations at OSU during April and May, and all lectures are all free and open to the public. The series is sponsored by OSU Libraries; OSU Press; OSU Ethnic Studies; the OSU Center for Civic Engagement; and the OSU School of History, Philosophy, and Religion.

The topics include:

“Alternative Facts”

Peter Laufer, 3-4 p.m. April 27, Willamette Rooms, The Valley Library

  • In an age of instant news and “alternative facts,” information consumers need easy-to-follow rules for sorting truth from lies. Award-winning journalist and University of Oregon Professor Peter Laufer will present Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer. Inspired by the Slow Food movement, a timely antidote is offered to “fake news,” with 29 simple rules for avoiding echo chambers and recognizing misinformation.

“Fake News is the New V.D.: Verbal Deception as a Means of Manipulation”

Trischa Goodnow, 3-4 p.m., May 3, Willamette Rooms, The Valley Library

  • The phrase verbal deception has been coined to better describe what has popularly become known as fake news.  OSU Professor Trischa Goodnow will discuss how fake news or verbal deception are being used in the current political climate to manipulate audiences, and the lecture will suggest a simple solution to the problem – logic and reason.

Der Stürmer, Fake News, and the Making of the “Jewish Criminal” in Nazi Germany”

Katherine Hubler, 3-4 p.m., May 11, Willamette Rooms, The Valley Library

  • National Socialist propaganda frequently spread “fake news” about European Jews, but few Nazi publications were as belligerent and unrestrained in their antisemitic attacks as Der Stürmer (The Stormtrooper), published between 1923 and 1945. Der Stürmer perpetuated the myth of Jewish criminality by soliciting public slander about German Jews—in the form of readers’ letters—and passing it off as fact.  The methods it used will be discussed by Katherine Hubler, an instructor and Ecampus coordinator with the OSU school of History, Philosophy, and Religion.

“Manufacturing ‘Military Necessity’: Japanese American Internment during World War II”

Patricia Sakurai, 3-4 p.m., May 18, Willamette Rooms The Valley Library

  • In 1942, a presidential order ultimately interned 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, which a federal commission 40 years later said “was not justified by military necessity” but instead was the result of “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” OSU Associate Professor Patricia Sakurai will consider the particular convergence of misinformation, political and business interests, news media, and longstanding anti-Asian sentiment and legislation that sat just below assertions of “military necessity” during the period.

~ Theresa Hogue

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