Fake News: Is it Real?


Where do we turn today for news that we can trust?

How is technology changing the way we consume information?

How do we determine what news is “Real”—and what news is “Fake”?

Join Connecticut Humanities in a year-long exploration about why people are becoming increasingly distrustful of the news media—and how we can all become more confident consumers of information.

Journalism is critical to a healthy democracy. For citizens to make informed decisions they need reliable news and information. Journalism plays an integral role in this process by improving knowledge, helping build consensus, and holding government officials accountable.

But is traditional journalism still relevant in today’s era of “Fake News”?

In 2018, Connecticut Humanities (CTH) will help facilitate a statewide exploration about why people are distrustful of news, how technology is changing information consumption, and how citizens can better evaluate news sources. Our goal: to engage and inform Connecticut’s citizens about the essential role journalism plays in helping us understand our world.

The initiative includes:

  • A moderated panel discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists.
  • Community college student-created video shorts created by Capital Community College and Middlesex Community College students.
  • Discussion and workshop sessions for teachers at the 2018 Northeast Regional Conference for the Social Studies.
  • A themed issue of Connecticut Explored Magazine (Winter 2019).
  • Small project grants to encourage Connecticut cultural organizations to continue the discussion in their own communities (see more information on grants below).

Connecticut Humanities thanks Capital Community College, Middlesex Community College, the Connecticut State Department of Education, and Connecticut Explored Magazine for partnering with us on this important project.

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.


1) A Month of Fake News Programming at New Haven Free Public Library

Today’s Journalism Education, Thursday, 10/4, 6-7:30 pm

Performing Arts Room of New Haven Public Library. Three Journalism educators present unique, insider views of the challenges the fake news phenomenon presents to teachers and students. Moderated Q&A . Panelists include:

Laura Pappano, journalist, community leader, author and founder of the New Haven Student Journalism Project.
Barbara Gray, Chief Librarian & Associate Professor at The Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY; former Director of News Research at The New York Times
Frank Harris III, Professor of Journalism at SCSU, columnist at the Hartford Courant and formerly The New Haven Register

More info here.

Friday, 10/5, 2pm. Film Screening: “The Network” (more info here)

Thursday, 10/11, 6-7:30pm, Performing Arts Room, “New Haven Newsies. Three New Haven journalists discuss their experiences and views in a profession under fire. Moderated Q&A . Panelists include:

Paul Bass, Editor, New Haven Independent
Babz Rawls-Ivy, Editor-In-Chief, Inner-City News
John Stoehr, Yale Journalism Initiative Fellow, Journalist

Friday, 10/12, 2pm. Film Screening: “His Girl Friday” (more info here)

Monday, 10/15, 6-7:30pm. Mitchell Branch Library- “Fake News is Not New!” Three historians discuss an enduring phenomenon. Moderated Q&A. Panelists include:

Courtney Fullilove, Associate Prof. of History, Wesleyan
Erik Grimmer-Solem, Associate Prof. of History, Wesleyan
Richard Brown, Distinguished Prof. of History, Emeritus, UCONN

Thursday, 10/18, 6-7:30pm Philip Marett Room: “Combating Fake News with Leading Technology Presentation by Open Mind co-creator and Hackathon champion Michael Lopez-Brau. Q&A.

Friday, 10/19, 2pm Film Screening: “Spotlight” (more info here)

Thursday, 10/25, 5:30-7:30 pm. Film Screening: “The Brainwashing of My Dad” plus Q&A with the director, Jen Senko. This documentary highlights the rise of right-wing media through the lens of the director’s father, whose immersion in it radicalized him and rocked the foundation of their family. Click here for more info.

Friday, 10/26, Film Screening: “All the President’s Men” (more info here)

2) Fairfield Museum

Educator Workshop: Fighting Fake News

Presented by Newseum | Tuesday, October 9, 4 – 6pm

  • FREE. Open to all educators and college students. Register online. Arm your students with the skills they need to strike a balance between cynic and sucker as they navigate a media landscape where real and fake sometimes look all too similar!

Museum After Dark: Digital Citizenship Workshop with Newseum

Tuesday, October 9, 7 – 8:30pm.

  • FREE. Recommended for youth ages 13 and up, parents, and adults. Register online. Dive into the complexity of digital citizenship in this interactive presentation.

Professional Development Day, Tuesday, November 6

  • Free, open to all educators and college students. Register online.

Fake News: Now and Then | 9:30am – 10:30am

  • Dr. Beth Rose, Library Director, and Christine Jewell, Director of Education. Biased news has been a factor throughout much of U.S. history. Learn how questioning primary sources can help students to think critically about all sources of information.

CT Public Learning Network and Thinkalong | 10:30am – 12pm

  • Learn about Thinkalong, a web-based learning program that uses media resources from PBS, NPR, and other stations to engage students in discussions about current events.

Lunchtime Lecture: Get Your Facts Straight | Tuesday, November 6, 12:30 – 1:30pm

  • Free. Recommended for students in high school and college, parents, educators, and adults. It’s so easy to click “share” on social media – did you check the facts first? Dr. Adam Rugg, Associate Professor of Communication, Fairfield University, discusses how to be a savvy media consumer. Register online.

Museum After Dark: The Media and the Mid-Term Elections
Thursday, November 15, 6 – 8pm.

  • Register online. A panel of journalists and professors, moderated by Larry Rifkin, examine the state of journalism and news consumption today and in the recent mid-term elections, with an emphasis on role of the media and being an informed citizen in the digital age. Free.

3) Connecticut Public Affairs Network

Navigating the News: Past & Present
Wednesday, December 5, noon to 2 p.m.

Enjoy a special, two-hour Conversation at Noon at Connecticut’s Old State House exploring bias in reporting and strategies for navigating the news today. Dr. Barry O’Connell, a retired professor from Amherst College, will examine how Native American activist, William Apes(s), viewed the varying newspaper accounts of the same event: the Mashpee Revolution of 1833-34. Richard Hanley, Professor of Journalism at Quinnipiac University, will speak on the evolution of news reporting over the past few decades and Adam Chiara, Assistant Professor of Communications at the University of Hartford, will explore how today’s online media ecosystem works. Following each speaker’s presentation, Emmy award winning journalist, Diane Smith , will moderate a panel discussion.

4) Connecticut Historical Society

Alexander Hamilton and ‘Fake News’
December 10th at 5:30 pm at CHS

Famous founder Alexander Hamilton had his own experiences with “fake news.” On one well-known occasion, he disproved a false report accusing him of insider trading as the first Treasury Secretary by publicly admitting to an extramarital affair. In a lesser known episode, Hamilton pushed for a legal case–going so far as to appear as a witness–against a printer for republishing a false story claiming Hamilton tried to buy out and thereby silence an opposition newspaper. To make sense of these events, and to help us think through our own responses to fake news, we’ll explore Hamilton’s — as well as Jefferson’s and Madison’s — evolving theories of freedom of the press. The speaker will be Dr. Robert Martin of Hamilton College.

Fake News: Is It Real? Grants

Fake News: Is It Real? Quick Grants are small implementation grants for projects that examine the issue of fake news, either currently or historically, and contextualize its lasting impact on our state.

These grants can be used to support a wide range of community-oriented programs that explore the issue of fake news including, but not limited to:

  • The events and issues that led to the current explosion of fake news in circulation.
  • The outcomes, both intended and unintended, of the spread of fake news.
  • The ways in which community-oriented groups can help people identify fake news and propaganda.
  • As a vehicle to discuss issues relating to civil discourse; civics; critical thinking; voting rights; and privacy.
  • As a vehicle to look at Connecticut in terms of changing demographics, town life, and people and places related to these issues.

Awards may not exceed $3,000 and funded activities must be completed within six (6) months of project start date.

Applications are due to CTH by 11:59 PM on June 1, July 6 and September 7. Award notifications are made approximately one month following a deadline.

Before applying, review Fake News Grant Guidelines here. Also, before applying, please contact CTH staff member Scott Wands (swands@cthumanities.org), to discuss your project idea. Applications submitted without prior communication with CTH staff will not be considered.


CTH is proud to be partnering with Pulitzer Prize-winning and other award-winning journalists on Fake News: Is It Real?

Susan Campbell

Susan Campbell teaches courses in journalism and mass communication at the University of New Haven. She is a columnist for The Hartford Courant, and the website, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, and an award-winning author of Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl, and the biography, Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker. For more than a quarter-century, she was a staff columnist at The Hartford Courant, where her work has been recognized by the National Women’s Political Caucus, New England Associated Press News Executives, the Society for Professional Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Sunday Magazine Editors Association. She returned as a freelance columnist in March 2018. Her column about the shootings at lottery headquarters in March 1998 was part of The Courant‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.

Lynne DeLucia

Lynne DeLucia is the editor and co-founder of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, an in-depth news website focusing on issues of health and safety. Prior to launching C-HIT.org in December 2010, Lynne worked at The Hartford Courant for 17 years, holding the positions of assistant bureau chief, bureau chief, state editor and an assistant managing editor. Lynne was the supervising editor of The Hartford Courant’s team coverage of the Connecticut lottery shootings, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Before joining The Courant, Lynne worked at the New Haven Register as a reporter and city editor. Lynne is a board member of the New England First Amendment Coalition. In 2014, Lynne was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists CT Chapter Hall of Fame and also received the Judith Vance Weld Brown Spirit Of Journalism Award from the New England Society of News Editors. In November 2016, she was honored by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for C-HIT’s coverage of women’s health issues.

Mike McIntire

Mike McIntire is an investigative reporter, author and editor. As a member of the investigative unit at The New York Times, he shared the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on covert Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Since joining The Times in 2003, Mike has produced in-depth stories on a wide range of subjects, including presidential politics, terrorism and Wall Street bailouts. His investigation of corruption in college sports was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for his book, Champions Way: Football, Florida and the Lost Soul of College Sports, published by W.W. Norton in September 2017. Earlier in his career, he was the investigative editor at The Hartford Courant, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer for breaking news reporting and was a Pulitzer finalist for investigative reporting on medical malpractice. He has also been a national writer at the Associated Press in New York, and a reporter and editor at several Connecticut newspapers.

Mike Stanton

Mike Stanton is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut and a former investigative reporter at The Providence Journal, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Prince of Providence, about Buddy Cianci. His next book, Unbeaten: Rocky Marciano’s Fight for Perfection In A Crooked World, will be published in June by Henry Holt. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Columbia Journalism Review and Yankee Magazine. A native of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, he graduated from Syracuse University, holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and was a Knight fellow at Stanford University.

Gina Seay

Gina Seay is a senior level communicator, currently transitioning to a new communications career after having served in various editing roles, including content manager of the lifestyles and entertainment department at The Hartford Courant. The native Virginian and Boston University graduate was also a reporter at newspapers in Oklahoma and Texas, including the Houston Post and Houston Chronicle.

Steven G. Smith

Steven G. Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning multimedia photojournalist and associate professor of visual journalism at the University of Connecticut. For more than 25 years, Steven G. Smith’s images have graced the pages and the airwaves of the most prominent media organizations, including The New York Times, Time, USA Today, ABC News, National Geographic Channel, ESPN The Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, CNN, Public Broadcasting Service, Time.com, Smithsonian Magazine, the Associated Press, MSNBC.com, and Life. Smith has worked as a freelancer for top media outlets, as well as holding staff positions at distinguished institutions, including the E.W. Scripps Company, The Commercial Appeal, The Albuquerque Tribune and The Rocky Mountain News. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize four times, Smith won the award in 2002 as part of a group of photographers who contributed to a large photo essay on the Colorado Wildfires for The Rocky Mountain News. Smith received a second nomination that year as well — for his visual reportage of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.


Larry Rifkin

Larry Rifkin was the chief programming executive for Connecticut Public Television for over a quarter-century, overseeing the production of state and national productions, which amassed nearly 50 regional Emmy Awards over that period. He is best known for bringing UConn Women’s Basketball to statewide audiences and Barney the Dinosaur to national audiences. During his tenure, he developed The Connecticut Experience series of documentaries in partnership with the Connecticut Humanities Council. That series covered a broad sweep of Connecticut history and politics. In 2006, Mr. Rifkin was inducted into the Boston-New England Emmy Silver Circle for lifetime achievement. He has since gone on to return to his first love, radio, where he hosted a talk program for seven years on 1320 WATR in Waterbury and now hosts and produces the podcast America Trends (americatrendspodcast.com) on emerging developments in our society and politics. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Connecticut and has a master’s degree in Corporate and Political Communication from Fairfield University.


CTH and its project partners have compiled a list of resources helpful for anyone who wants to learn how to identify fake news or review the issue in more depth. The list also includes curriculum links for interested teachers.

What Can You Do About Fake News? Here are some steps and resources to get you started.

1. Learn to recognize it:

2. Don’t share without verifying:

3. When in doubt, check it out:

4. Get your information from more than one source:

5. Support your local paper & demand local news from it.

6. Accept that you are part of the problem (It’s okay – we all are.)

7. Inoculate yourself:

8. Teach your children well (more resources for educators):

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