DigiLitSunday: Free from Fake

Is our freedom real or fake?


Fake or real? I don’t think that is the real issue. The real issue is whom do we consider to be our journalists, the voice of the people; they let us know. It’s their job.


Yes, we need ways to discern that what we read is valid and true. Margaret Simon shares how her students think about and validate their sources in her post, DigiLitSunday: Fake or Real?  And they discovered that the truth is not easy to assess — a person in articles may say one thing on one day and change their mind on another. But the point is, the students are verifying the information:

  • what type of site? [edu, gov, org, or ??? ]
  • are their links to their sources?
  • are their cross-references?
  • is the ‘news’ on multiple sources?
  • is information or opinion verified with evidence?

Margaret shared Kevin Hodgson‘s Google Slideshow, which he shares with his students to help them sort real from fake news: Fake News and How To Spot It.  Anyone can put any information online. Who sponsors the site? Who are the donors and supporters? What is their purpose? How do they get their information?  For more ideas on Fake or Real News, see this Google collaboration started by Eric Hill.

As I said, the real issue asks this question: Whom do we consider to be our journalists, the voice of the people? They let us know. It’s their job. We get news from journalists who provide the information about the world and our leaders so we can hold them accountable.

So what is journalism? I trust you’ll find resources and share them below in comments, but here’s part of a definition from Journalism Requires a Definition at mic.com, which reflects a view that follows Thomas Jefferson’s idea that journalists are our voice:

“nine-point explanation given by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience”

Journalism Requires a Definition at mic.com

So, the first thing today is to search for news from organizations who follow, and whose  journalists follow, those tenets. That would be news sources such as The New York Times or the Washington Post or your local newspaper. We have forgotten that the “news” is for us– by journalists who follow and report on issues that we, the public, the citizens, need to know.

If you don’t like the news you hear, or you disagree, write a letter to the editor or your own blog post. However, this year, journalists have been denigrated by fake news sites and even by our leaders, whom we have elected. Journalists look for the truth with facts — they inform us so we can act. So we might not want to hear this from the New York Times about President Obama:

“He warned us against retreating into our bubbles, but he was never able to escape his own.” New York Times

And we might not want to hear when President-Elect Trump states a lie and is called on it:

“Can you imagine that if Donald Trump got the questions to the debate — it would’ve been the biggest story in the history of stories. And they would’ve said immediately, ‘You have to get out of the race.’ Nobody even talked about it. It’s a very terrible thing.”

That “nobody even talked about it” is a trademark Trump lie; the supposed revelation dominated the news for days.  The Nation

We don’t want to hear those things — but we need to listen.

And we need to use our own strategies for verifying all news sources — using more than one newspaper or media about the issue. We need to read world news– from other countries. We need to support valid “news” organizations.

Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • Twitter is Instant Unverified Statements: “Mr. Trump expertly exploits journalists’ unwavering attention to their Twitter feeds” New York Times
  • Basic facts are needed for citizens to discuss: “When political actors can’t agree on basic facts and procedures, compromise and rule-bound argumentation are basically impossible; politics reverts back to its natural state as a raw power struggle in which the weak are dominated by the strong. That’s where Donald Trump’s lies are taking us. By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. When the truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision, there is no common ground to be reached and no incentive to look for it.” ThinkProgress
  • Our Freedom of the Press is treated by the President-Elect just like Putin’s Puppet Press: “Putin always comes off as an omniscient and benevolent leader tending to a flock of unruly but adoring children.” Alexey Kovalev on Medium
  • We’ve been “Framed”: “You just keep repeating the things that you’re negating. And that just strengthens them.” George Lackof interview by Paul Rosenberg in Salon

These reasons show how we Americans have been inundated with a political strategy that has turned us against those who would keep us free: journalism and Freedom of the Press.

We must understand these and call them out. We must support our journalists and hold them true to standards built over the course of history in our democratic republic and founded in our most sacred documents. And we must hold our leaders accountable to the truth — we must discern any lies and deception by verifying the information. If even our President is creating fake news, make it known. See “Conspirator-in-Chief” from Salon.

Fake or Real? We must build up those who have spoken up through history.

If we let our journalists be bullied, ignored, and disgraced, we all lose our freedom and our ability to hold our government accountable. We must demand that our President respect this fundamental aspect of our democratic republic. This is the first president in my history who has deliberately generated, as a strategy, division, animosity, and threats to our journalists. I may not have liked President G. W. Bush, but he was my president and he did not divide the country with rhetoric nor did he threaten the press. Our President-Elect is different; his strategy is to engage his followers and deny, defame, and divide anyone who questions him. Our historical beginnings formed from fighting tyranny, and although I want him to be great — so far, he has spread only derision and disdain for many of us, the citizens whom he represents, and the journalists who represent us.


We have a right to speak up. We have a right to speak up against websites that create fake news and misinformation. We have a right to speak up to leaders who also do so. And journalists are part of that right. Without freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom of the press, we are not free. [ Bill of Rights ]

Fake or Real? It’s more than that: we need to expect our highest leaders in our local, state, and federal offices to be honorable, truthful, and supportive of those institutions and founding ideals that make us great.


  • Subscribe and follow reliable news organizations
  • On Facebook, follow those reliable news organizations
  • On Facebook, hide fake news, biased news, misinformation; report fake news
  • On Facebook, share important news from reliable news organizations
  • On Twitter, follow those reliable news organizations
  • On Twitter, choose “I don’t like this Tweet” for false, fake, and lies
  • On Twitter, tweet important news from reliable news organizations
  • Write blog posts about the importance of journalism
  • Write blog posts based on reliable news
  • Encourage students to write letters to the editor
  • Encourage student journalism

can never be silent:
that is its greatest virtue
and its greatest fault.
It must speak,
and speak immediately,
while the echoes
of wonder,
the claims of triumph
and the signs of horror
are still in the air.

Henry Anatole Grunwald
Former Editor, Time Magazine

Do more than determine if ‘news’ is fake or real — support the voices of the people: journalists. Make our freedom real!

[Bill Moyers: 10 Investigative Reporting Outlets]

img_3496 Part of Margaret Simon’s: DigiLitSunday

Topic: Fake or Real?

Make America Again 1


I’m torn.

The newly elected people are so negative, uncaring, and bent on destroying what we as Americans have built based on the values, the creed, that founded our country.

I watched in tears at President Obama’s Farewell Speech. He reminded us of those sacred beliefs,

“we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

He added a problem:

And that’s what I want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one.

He shared we must see each other again — believe we all want to be part of our United States of America:

So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

Because if we don’t:

The peril each poses to our democracy is more far reaching than a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change. The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently. A contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable. An intolerance of dissent and free thought. A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

The people elected now and assigned to important cabinet positions have ideas that undermine the values most Americans believe in: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion [or not], freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. Let’s just mention the Bill of Rights:

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The laws and programs they support against women are based on their religious views. They are people who do not believe in Civil Rights or Climate Change or affordable health care.

Here’s the Preamble of the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

These cabinet members and elected Republicans seem bent on ignoring “general Welfare” or “Blessings of Liberty” for some people and plan to repeal all that has been passed that help millions of people afford health care, and have equal opportunities for success and living their lives their way [liberty]. They have a strange view of “justice.” America was not perfect, but now it looks like it will not be great anymore.

And– we have a person in the highest office who bullies people, businesses, corporations, journalists, and media in his tweets, and he lies. He is threatening our democracy, our democratic republic.

But this is why I’m torn: the vitriol of which Obama warns us. I’m torn because people have a right to speak up and support or dissent the policies proposed. But we don’t have a right to bully or slam or disrespect others’ ideas when they do so. And for sure, people should not be told to stop.  As Obama said:

But, protecting our way of life, that’s not just the job of our military. Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.

Later he said:

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured…

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

Citizens must participate — that means to speak up. Speak up against the weakening of our values. Citizens must participate — they must listen. Listen to all sides and facts. And like our founding fathers, compromise.

I believe that the rash proposals eliminating the gains made the last eight and more years of civil rights, health care, opportunities for all — these rash decisions are not the way of our founding fathers– they are not arguing and discussing with each other: they are bullying their party ideals to the destruction of our republic. I thank those Democrats and those Republicans who are saying, “Slow down,” and who are asking critical questions of the cabinet nominees.

But I’m torn to speaking up. We get yelled at and shut down. I’ve always encouraged my students to speak up to rules that seem arbitrary and unfair; I’ve supported them in appropriate ways to approach their dissent. Yet, here I am. Afraid. Afraid of the bully. Afraid of all those bullies.

I just want to make clear: I believe in the power of the American dream, that all of us have rights to pursue our goals and dreams, and that our laws should support the opportunities for all to succeed. I believe that programs should exist to help people who need it — in food, housing, health [including safe air and water].  The laws and programs that started in the last eight years support us all.

Abraham Lincoln said in the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights; that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interferes with the right of no other State; and that the General Government, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than that general class of things that does concern the whole.

 But many of the laws and ideas being suggested do interfere with others’ rights.

Civil Rights, Health Care and Climate Change  all concern the whole. The Bill of Rights concerns the whole. We’ve got to speak up to protect these values.

I do not want an authoritarian government destroying these values and restricting the lives of my grandchildren. I know that the people who voted for the bully thought he would help them. I just don’t want our country to be about a few — we need to join together to see how we can work together for all Americans. All.

Mark Barnes is an inspiration to me — he’s taken his stand. He’s written about it here: Hacking Powerful People: Inspiration from Meryl Streep. He encourages us to:

1 — Acknowledge the problem

2 — Face the oppressors on their own playground

3 — Recruit the strong to help

I’ve acknowledged several problems in general.

I’m not sure how to face “oppressors,” and I still hope that their are those Democrats and Republicans who will slow things down and compromise for their citizens’ our country’s wellbeing.  Even today during the confirmation hearings, several senators asked good questions and dug in. Several GOP have said they want to slow down on health care. Although certain Republicans and their leader are rushing forward, bullying others, I’m hoping saner minds will prevail.

I’m looking for “the strong” who are most effective — any ideas?

My problem might not be your problem, but I do [and should] have a right to speak up about it. And all of us have a responsibility to have conversations about these issues, including those now taking over. I do want to make America again. It already was great– not perfect — but great.

I’m torn, but getting braver.


“Alan Dershowitz.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2017. 10 January 2017. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/alan_dershowitz.html

Image: Notegraphy

Jan 8 Blogging Challenges

I’ve been out of the loop, detached, lost.

But A J Juliani’s newsletter reached out and shook me up: Keep going. 

I love thinking and writing: my fingers tapping the keys while thoughts form typed words where something new or remixed comes alive. It will be how I keep going in these, my sad times.

Challenge Info from A J Juliani: a very open 30 day blogging challenge #30daysblogging

What to do: 

1 Sign up on the blog: A J Juliani 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

2 Set goals in the comments.

My Goals:

“Thanks AJ. I’ve been taking a break, and it’s time to start the new year with this great push to write.

1. Write at least 140 words a day (some may be personal writing)

2. Publish on my blog 2 to 3 times a week: Tuesday Slice of Life; Thursday poetry post; Friday reflection post or DigiLit Sunday post with Margaret Simon who blogs here.

3. I’d like to incorporate new media…video or audio.

Thanks to Julie Johnson’s comment for the blogging ideas.”

3. Start.

Since AJ’s blogging challenge is 30 days, I found two more challenges that might inspire you as well, especially if you’ve been distracted or distressed and need new inspiration for looking forward, planning forward, and developing forward progress. And what about the critics? Read AJ’s post here on “Fighting Fear and Anxiety Sharing Your Work with the World.”  And, just maybe, you need to a way to keep forward progress in these confusing times, a way to do what Drew Frank shared from John Lewis: “Get into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble!”

So, just keep adding good inspiration to your “30 Days” or add these challenges:

The Edublogs Club, which I found from AJ’s comments leading to this story; It’s a weekly challenge [you can do this!]

#BlogaMonth with Drew Frank [for sure, you can do this!]

Just remember: keep going.


Image: Sheri Edwards

Jan 7 Community History

Jan 7 Community History

I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. We are tied together in a history that dates to the building of Grand Coulee Dam. It’s a rich history forged in a tumultuous time, during the Great Depression, in which our solution to the devastation was the New Deal: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s determination to help the American people. Grand Coulee Dam was one of the great infrastructure components. Thousands of people flocked to work on one of the wonders of the world, the largest gravity dam and concrete structure in the world at the time which would not only provide power but also irrigation to hundreds of thousands of miles of semi-arid lands, giving life to the land. It’s power provided the electricity to build the warplanes that helped win World War II. And that dam stopped the migration of salmon, the mainstay of food for the local Native American tribes, who had been forced onto a reservation, the roads closed, and families visiting each other from other areas of the Pacific Northwest found themselves trapped and forced to stay as well. The original reservation was formed in 1872 by Executive Order of President Grant. The reservations are sovereign nations, many with treaties with the United States of America. 

Nespelem, a town just northeast of the Columbia River’s turn to the west, is the tribal agency for the Colville Confederated Tribes. The reservation borders the Columbia River [in the portion behind Chief Joseph Dam called Lake Rufus Woods], which flows through Elmer City and Coulee Dam, is blocked by the Grand Coulee Dam to form Lake Roosevelt behind it, and provides the water that forms Banks Lake which borders Electric City. East Coulee Dam sits on the reservation; West Coulee Dam does not. Between Coulee Dam below the Grand Coulee Dam and Electric City above the Dam is the town of Grand Coulee. The five towns are tied by the water and land where the people live who make this semi-arid shrub-steppe biome their home.

So, we are a community rich in history, a history built on the culture of those who chose to live here. Nespelem, of course, is home to Native Americans whose own rich history spans thousands of years. It had it’s own businesses, schools, agencies, attractions— and it’s own history of converging cultures. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, west Coulee Dam was home to engineers, the designers and supervisors. East Coulee Dam was home to workers; originally it was called Mason City and was to be a model town for the New Deal. Grand Coulee arose from the thousands who came, living in tents and make-shift shacks hoping for work at the Dam, or creating their own work and businesses to serve the thousands arriving to work. Elmer City, on the Colville Reservation, was incorporated in 1947. Electric City incorporated in 1950.

Yes, I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. And as a rural community, our identity flows from family, friends, and neighbors who find ways to work together to support our community. We’re still working on that part; communities of diverse cultures take time to nurture.


Image: Marked up NASA Public Domain