To read Twitter or listen to some people these days, you would think that the concept of “fake news” is something fresh to our generation. Yet, even Thomas Jefferson, the Founding Father who famously said he would prefer newspapers without government to the opposite, once called them a “polluted vehicle,” and wrote to a colleague that, “As for what is not true, you will always find abundance in the newspapers.” Reporting information and writing public opinions has always been full of cause for suspicion.
That is the spirit of a five-part series of “Facts Matter” presentations the Daily Herald is producing in conjunction with Northwest Suburban High School District 214 beginning next week. Daily Herald editor John Lampinen, a panel of Daily Herald writers and reporters and I will kick off the first session Wednesday night at 7 p.m. with an examination of how bias finds its way into the news and how news consumers can recognize and respond to it.
On successive Wednesdays, senior Daily Herald editors will:
• Lead a discussion on “How to Spot Fake News” on Oct. 3;
• Provide examples and insights regarding “How Well Can You Trust Photos and Videos” on Oct. 10;
• Describe “How Does a News Organization Work?” on Oct. 17; and
• Close out the series on Oct. 24, with a broader reflection on “The First Amendment as a Protector of Democracy.”
The events will be hosted by Prospect High School journalism and American studies teacher Jason Block. In each one, we aim to conduct vigorous, candid and civil interactions with the audience. We’ll work together to better understand both how we as a news agency can best deliver ideas and information and how readers, in print and online, can best sort through all the vast sources exploding onto the scene of today’s so-called Information Age.
One of the facts of life in a democratic society is that there is no single political truth, but instead an array of individual truths as varied as the singular human beings who make it up. But recognizing, as in fact Jefferson did, that information is the fuel on which such a society runs, we do expect to find ways to get the most out of the information sustaining our communities and our country.
The programs will be held in the auditorium of the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 S. Goebbert Rd., Arlington Heights. They’re free, but space is limited and registration is required. To sign up online, go to https://d214.cr3.rschooltoday.com/public/getclass/category_id/9/program_id/1/subcategory_id/32.
As a contentious campaign season heats up toward the Nov. 6 midterm elections, you’ll have lots of opportunities to question and evaluate information about candidates and issues. These sessions will give you some tools for doing that effectively. We hope to see you at one or all of them.