#HumCitizen: Journalism in the Age of Fake News

Presented by:
Connecticut Humanities Council
Current Initiative: Democracy and the Informed Citizen National Partner: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, Nonprofits, Other Subject: Journalism, Literacy, Varies Audience: All, Colleges and Universities, Educators

In 2018, Connecticut Humanities (CTH) will act as convener to help facilitate a statewide exploration about why people are distrustful of the news, how technology is changing information consumption, and how citizens can better evaluate news sources. A spring 2018 event will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, video interviews with community college students and a public, facilitated discussion. Social studies educators will have an opportunity to participate in a panel discussion and sessions at the 2018 Northeast Regional Conference for Social Studies and small project grants will be made available for Connecticut heritage organizations. The council will conclude the year with a late-fall public event featuring the grant projects, video interviews, and lessons learned throughout the statewide exploration of journalism today.


Quick Grants Available! – Statewide – Connecticut Humanities is making available small implementation grants for projects that examine the issue of fake news, either currently or historically, and contextualize its lasting impact in the state. These grants can be used to support a wide range of community-oriented programs. Funds available up to $3,000. Deadline to apply is June 1; award notifications are approximately one month after the deadline.

APRIL 2018

Fake News: Is It Real?  – Hartford, CT – Connecticut Humanities partnered with Capital Community College and Middlesex Community College to host this moderated panel discussion examining the state of journalism and news consumption today. During the panel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Mike Stanton (Providence Journal, Investigative Reporting, 1994); Steven Smith (Rocky Mountain News, Breaking News Photography, 2003); and Mike McIntire (New York Times, International Reporting, 2017), as well as Gina Seav (The Hartford Courant) and Larry Rifkin (Connecticut Public Television), who will moderate, will talk about how journalism has changed and why they believe people have become distrustful of media.


“Today’s Journalism Education” New Haven, CT – Three Journalism educators present unique, insider views of the challenges the fake news phenomenon presents to teachers and students. Moderated Q&A.


  • 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

New Haven Student Journalism Project New Haven, CT – The New Haven Student Journalism Project helps students learn about the craft and power of journalism by producing a real newspaper, which gets distributed to students and families at the East Rock school and throughout the city of New Haven. With the support of Yale undergraduate and high school mentors, students investigate and report on some of the most important stories of the day.

“The Network” Film Screening – New Haven, CT

“Fighting Fake News” – Fairfield, CT – 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. In “Fighting Fake News: How to Help Your Students Outsmart Trolls and Troublemakers”, teachers learn a practical approach to helping students avoid one of the major pitfalls of today’s digital media: falling for fake information. Examine real-life case studies that bring to life the challenges of today’s media landscape and model an easy-to-remember and easy-to-implement strategy for staying a step ahead. Throughout the session, discussion and activities explore best practices for meeting students’ need for enhanced media savvy in the academic realm and their daily lives.

“Museum After Dark: The Media and the Mid-term Elections” Fairfield, CT – A panel of journalists and professors, moderated by Larry Rifkin, will examine the state of journalism, news consumption today in relation to the recent mid-term elections. Panelists include Daniela Altimari, statehouse reporter at the Hartford Courant; Dr. Jocelyn Borczka, Associate Professor of Politics; Fairfield University; Steven Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning multimedia photojournalist and associate professor of visual journalism at the University of Connecticut; and Ebon Udoma, senior political report for WSHU.

New Haven Newsies New Haven, CT – Three prominent New Haven journalists share their experiences and views working in a profession under pressure. Panel includes Paul Bass (Editor, New Haven Independent), Babz Rawls-Ivy (Editor-in-Chief, The Inner-City News, and John Stoehr (Yale Journalism Initiative Fellow, Journalist).

“His Girl Friday” Film Screening New Haven, CT

“Fake News is Not New!” New Haven, CT – From the 19th Century “Penny Papers” and Nazi propaganda, to the present day, three historians sit down and discuss an enduring phenomenon.

“Combating Fake News with Leading Technology” – New Haven, CT – Michael Lopez-Brau will discuss and demonstrate the super powers of, Open Mind, a Google Chrome extension designed to combat the proliferation of fake news and increase exposure to opposing viewpoints. Michael – the Co-Creator of Open Mind – is a PhD student and entrepreneur at Yale.

“Spotlight” Film Screening – New Haven, CT

“The Brainwashing of My Dad” Film Screening New Haven, CT – 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. Immediately following the film, a moderated Q&A with the film director, Jen Senko, will take place.

“All the President’s Men” Film Screening – New Haven, CT


Navigating the News: Past & Present Hartford, CT – 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.

Hamilton Opening Reception and “Fake News” LectureHartford, CT – In the last few years, the cry of “fake news” has pervaded America’s public sphere. But it’s important to remember that we are not the first generation of Americans to grapple with this problem – far from it!

To help us open our new exhibit, “Hamilton: His World, His Words, His Hair,” CHS has invited Dr. Robert W.T. Martin of Hamilton College to talk about how the founding generation grappled with the free press.

Please join us from 5:30 – 6:00 pm for the opening reception. At this time guests can also browse the exhibit, which features artifacts from the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, including a pair of dueling pistols, letters written by Hamilton, and even a lock of Hamilton’s hair. Dr. Martin’s lecture will begin at 6:00 pm.

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, Dr. Martin will explore Hamilton’s — as well as Jefferson’s and Madison’s — evolving theories of freedom of the press.