Separating noise from news in mainstream media

Brittany Blomquist, Staff Writer

During the month of April, IVCC and the LaSalle Public Library will host a series of informational programs focusing on the ethics of journalism, “fake” news and the importance of accuracy and truth in maintaining a democracy.

The program series, “Noise vs. News,” is funded through a $2,500 collaborative grant received from the Reaching Across Illinois Library System, aimed towards sponsoring partnerships between libraries serving different populations. This partnership grant program series, pairing an academic and a public library, includes a diverse selections of speakers and panelists from within the community and beyond.

Professor Amanda Cook-Fesperman, instructor of Political Science and History at IVCC, will present the first and final programs in the series, beginning with “The First Amendment and the Free Press,” on April 6 at 6 p.m. in CTC 124/125 at IVCC.

Cook-Fesperman will moderate the final program, a panel discussion on the topics of media, journalism and democracy, on April 27 at 6 p.m. in CTC 124/125. Panelists for this event include Jeff Dankert, reporter for the News Tribune in LaSalle, Jenna Dooley, reporter for WNIJ radio and on-air host for “All Things Considered,” and David Giuliani, reporter for The Times in Ottawa.

“I got on board with this project because there is a growing concern in academia that people no longer can distinguish between real and fake news, and this has dire consequences for our democracy,” Cook-Fesperman said. “A free press is essential to a democracy, but we need to be able to distinguish fact from fiction.”

Professor Bill Cassidy, Associate Professor of Journalism at Northern Illinois University, will present “Online Journalism and the Proliferation of Fake News” on April 13 at 6 p.m. at the LaSalle Public Library.

Professor Stephanie Craft at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Media, will present “The Allure of Fake News: Journalism, Ethics, and Critical Thinking in the Age of Misinformation” on April 20 at 6 p.m. at the LaSalle Public Library.

Each event will be live-streamed on both the IVCC and LaSalle Public Library websites. As recipients of the grant award, IVCC and the LaSalle Public Library will make each of the “Noise vs. News” programs freely available for future use in libraries and classrooms via recordings of the events hosted online. The recordings will be closed captioned in both English and Spanish for greater accessibility. Audience members are encouraged to participate in each event. However, audience portions of the programs will not be recorded.

“When people leave these talks, I hope they will have a good understand of the importance of the free press as a guardian against tyranny and how to vet sources of information so that they can be well-informed citizens,” Cook-Fesperman said.

Additional information on the collaborative grant award and program series, “Noise vs. News,” can be found online at or or by contacting Jayna Leipart Guttilla at 815-224-0306 or Donna Blomquist at 815-223-2341.