What Fake News Is…and What It Isn’t

Was Nino Rubbed Out? I Read it at CVS!

Photo by Mike Licht

Well before Google and Facebook became common household words, there were already many different incarnations of what we’ve started calling “fake news.” Supermarket tabloids heralding dubious evidence for the existence of UFOs or the latest celebrity scandals are among fake news’ closest ancestors. The famous 1938 broadcast of director Orson Welles’ radio drama, War of the Worlds, fooled audiences into thinking Martians had invaded Earth. Tellingly, Welles revealed that the production company was motivated, in part, by a desire to teach the public about the dangers of uncritical acceptance of news on the new technology of radio (Schwartz). Indeed, as early as 1475, false reports of Jews abducting and drinking the blood of children have been used to agitate a credulous public against a common scapegoat (Soll).

More recently, several prominent contemporary journalists have been disciplined for lapses in journalistic integrity that include exaggerating for dramatic effect (NBC’s Brian Williams), giving undue credence to their informants (The New York Times’ Judith Miller), and outright fabrication (The New York Times’ Jayson Blair). These eyebrow-raising lapses by journalists working for highly reputable news outlets all defy a clear code of ethics for journalists.

Other variants in the “not quite news” category include segments on late night comedy shows such as The Daily Show or even Saturday Night Live. They may mention events documented by journalists following established procedures for verification of facts, but they clearly present themselves as humor, not journalism. We might also include in this category the nightly pundit shows that satisfy the 24-hour news cycle’s voracious appetite for content. Like late night comedy shows, pundits add commentary but can’t be properly described as producing reporting that meets journalistic standards.

Advertising also plays an important role in determining the content of our media whether we’re talking about print, television, or digital. Fake news’ defining characteristic is that its authors willingly report falsehoods to garner clicks on a story’s link. All this works in the interest of making money from web content through online advertising services such as Google’s AdSense. To add to the confusion, fake news websites may even have misleading URLs that mimic popular media sites like USAToday.com.co or WashingtonPost.com.co. Furthermore, the global nature of digital communication means that this is a problem both in the U.S. and internationally.

So what ISN’T fake news? When a major news organization reports on news that we don’t like or that is eventually proven incorrect, that does not qualify as “fake news” if it was based on credible sources. Similarly, if a news organization reports on a public leader who says something false, that is not fake news if the public leader actually said it. Major news organizations like CNN reported prior to the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. Were they reporting fake news? No, they were reporting the results of national polls — and polls can be wrong.

News media has its own bias as well. This infographic attempts to show the liberal and conservative leanings of many major news organizations, but we may also consider whether the infographic itself might also be biased. What do you think?

To help us get better at spotting fake news, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions has created a handy infographic that recommends several ways to evaluate the news we hear and see. In addition, non-partisan fact-checking websites like Snopes, Politifact, and FactCheck.org easily debunk hoaxes while also providing context on how a hoax or “fake news” report began. Finally, the Monroe Library is also here to help you sift through an increasingly unnavigable and often misleading media landscape. For more info, see our research guides on Fake News and Evaluating Web Pages, or contact your library liaison for help.

IFLA infographic based on FactCheck.org’s 2016 article “How to Spot Fake News” in PDF format

Clamshell Boxmaking

via GIPHY

Checkout our Special Collections & Archives Tumblr post to view a brief photo documentary of the clamshell box constructed for a large oversized leather volume, Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, etc. Hooray for box-making and book preservation!

Feminist Festival Exhibition

"Ongoing Campaign" by Daniela Marx

The Monroe Library is once again pleased to host an exhibition in conjunction with the Women’s Resource Center, the Feminist Festival, and Women’s History Month. The exhibition includes select books and articles by Loyola faculty outside of the Living Room on the 1st floor of the library. Works included may focus on women and gender issues or may show the progress women have made in various academic, business, and artistic areas.

Feminist Festival book display

In addition, inside the Library Living Room are artistic works by Loyola faculty, staff, and students.

(l-r) "Untitled" by Jeanette Zavala, "Mutant Strength" and "Beard Measuring Contest" by Natalie McLaurin

(l-r) "Landscape," "Still Life," and "Landscape" by Grace Jinnah

A full list of the materials included in the display is available here. For more information about Women’s History Month, take a look at our Research Guide.

Collections Spotlight: Louisiana Women Writers Symposium Collection

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are shining the spotlight on our Louisiana Women Writers Symposium Collection.

This collection primarily consists of correspondence and photographs from the Louisiana Women Writers Symposium that was held on September 19-20, 1986 at Loyola University New Orleans.

The symposium was funded by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and co-sponsored by Loyola University and the Women’s Studies Consortium of Louisiana. It was co-directed by Dorothy H. Brown and Barbara C. Ewell, who were faculty members of the English department of City College at Loyola University at the time.

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The symposium was held over a day and a half and featured sixteen scholars and moderators with a reading by writer Ellen Gilchrist.

 

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Ellen Gilchrist, Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives

 

Selected presentations from the conference were published with additional essays first in 1988 in New Orleans Review: Special Issue on Louisiana Women Writers, 15:1 (Spring 1988) and Louisiana State University Press in 1992 as a book entitled Louisiana Women Writers: New Essays and a Comprehensive Bibliography.

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The prologue to written for the dedicated issue of the New Orleans Review, does an amazing job at summarizing the significance of the conference, and the scholarship  and authorship presented there, “… the Consortium sought to dramatize through the symposium a critical otherness — another perspective on our past and present that purposely includes female, regional, black, ethnic, working-class, and other excluded minority points of view. It is the reinstatement of those “other” perspectives, which are essential to our cultural self-definitions, that women’s studies and the Consortium are committed.”

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Here is a little Library Lagniappe for you, a discussion on women writers from 1972 (the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement) between Helen Vendler, Nora Ephron, Elizabeth Janeway, and poet Carolyn Kizer, from 1972, hosted in New York City at the 92nd Street Y, Women Writers: Has Anything Changed?


Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc., 1871

Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc. Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc.Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc.Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc.Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc.Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc.Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc.
I am currently working on a housing project for our oversized books, and today I happened upon this gem (in desperate need of a box). Door Locks, Knobs, Padlocks, Etc. is filled from cover to cover with chromolithographs of lock and key hardware. Nearly all of the images were printed with metallic inks that add glamour to the objects. Now to construct a clamshell box for this very deserving book!

1963 New Orleans Freedom March

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, the following images (previously blogged about here) highlight the September 30, 1963 Freedom March in New Orleans.

While lunch counters and department stores had begun to desegregate in New Orleans by the summer of 1963, public administration had not yet implemented wide-spread desegregation efforts. On August 9, 1963, New Orleans Mayor Victor Schiro signed an agreement to desegregate public buildings, including City Hall; begin hiring qualified blacks for city positions; and cease appealing court desegregation orders or harassing businesses that were in the process of desegregating. However, only portions of the agreement were actually implemented, and on September 30, more than 10,000 whites and blacks marched from Shakespeare Park (now A.L. Davis Park) to City Hall to present the “Petition to the Greater New Orleans Community” demanding the realization of the August 9 agreement and other directives. The Mayor and other white politicians refused to meet with the protesters, so a week later, Reverend A.L. Davis presented the petition to City Council. Protests and demonstrations continued in New Orleans throughout the fall and winter of 1963, with City Hall’s cafeteria finally being desegregated shortly thereafter.

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Don Hubbard at left.

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At left Revius Ortique and Father Twomey.

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Left to right: unidentified, Rev. Avery Alexander, Solis Elie (foreground), Rev. A.L. Davis.

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Left to right (foreground): Father Twomey, Solis Elie , Ernest Morial.  Also featured in image – Rev. A.L. Davis and Rev. Avery Alexander.

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Left to right (foreground): Dr. Leonard Burns, Oretha Castle Haley, & Revius Ortique.

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Msgr. Charles Plauche.

These photos, taken by B. Raynal Ariatti, are from the Louis J. Twomey S.J. Papers and the B. Raynal Arriati Papers, and were previously on exhibit in Special Collections & Archives Booth-Bricker Reading Room as part of the exhibit We March in Dignity. These images and many more like them are available for research in Special Collections & Archives M-F 9-4:30.

Creole Voices

Continuing our celebration of Black History Month, the following pair of books are just a few of the many items related to the history of Louisiana’s people of color in Loyola’s Special Collections & Archives.

Creole voices; poems in French by free men of color (in French, Les Cenelles), was published in 1845 by Armand Lanusse, a free man of color living in New Orleans. The poetry collection was a landmark publication. Lanusse worked most of his career as a teacher at the L’Institution Catholique des Orphelins Indigents. An original edition of Les Cenelles is digitized and available online in the Louisiana Digital Library thanks to the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Nearly 100 years later, Lanusse’s work was highlighted by Charles Barthelemy Roussève, who was born to an accomplished black Creole family in 1902. After studies at Xavier Preparatory School and Straight College, Roussève  completed his master’s degree in history from Xavier University of New Orleans where his thesis, The Negro in Louisiana; aspects of his history and his literature, became the first book-length publication issued by Xavier University Press. The Negro in Louisiana drew attention to Lanusse’s little known Les Cenelles.

Roussève went on to work as an educator in New Orleans for 45 years as both a teacher and a principal and also published poetry, prose, and translations. Roussève’s papers are held at the Amistad Research Center.

Both of these books and many more like them are available for research in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room in Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives M-F 9-4:30.

Black History Month and opera

The New Orleans Opera has had the privilege of performing with some of the most talented and accomplished opera singers in the world, including a number of black opera singers. In conjunction with Black History Month, following are a few of the illustrious singers of color who have performed with the NOOA.

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Native New Orleanian Shirley Verrett (pictured here in a 1983 NOOA performance of Tosca) filled in as Carmen for the NOOA in 1980, making her the first black singer to perform the role with NOOA. She had previously been the first black singer to perform the role at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

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Bass-baritone Alfred Walker has become an international superstar since he graduated from Loyola’s master’s program in 1996. Walker won the Regional Metropolitan Opera Council Audition and made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette in 1998. He has performed with NOOA in Macbeth and Elektra (1994); Madama Butterfly (1995); Andrea Chénier (1996); Rigoletto (1997); and La Bohème (2014). He is pictured above in Loyola’s 1996 performance of Die Fledermaus.

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Another Loyola alum, Giovanna Joseph, has performed supporting roles in Salome and Porgy and Bess with NOOA. In 2011, Joseph founded Opera Creole, a nonprofit company dedicated to discovering and performing music written by nineteenth century New Orleans Creole men and women of color. She is pictured above (left) with her daughter Aria Mason (right) and singer Hope Briggs (middle) in NOOA’s 2010 Porgy and Bess; this performance marks the first time a mother and daughter both had singing roles in the same NOOA production (image courtesy of Givonna Joseph).

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Mezzo-soprano Débria Brown was another trailblazing New Orleans native who battled prejudice to become an international opera star. Brown graduated from Xavier University and began her professional career with the New York City Opera opposite Loyola alum and fellow New Orleanian Norman Treigle. She later achieved success singing in Germany and Vienna before becoming a professor of voice at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Brown performed with NOOA in Un Ballo in Maschera (pictured above in 1981) and Eugene Onegin (1995).

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Opera soprano Marquita Lister performed two of her signature roles in Porgy and Bess and Salome with NOOA in 2002. Lister has also served as the national spokesperson for the Negro “Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation.

A large portion of the New Orleans Opera Association Archives are Artists’ Files. These include head shots, press kits, and correspondence, in many cases sent by artist management companies, for artists who performed with NOOA as well as many who didn’t. These files contain beautiful graphic materials for  some of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, including many of the world’s leading black singers.

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LaVergne Monette

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Barbara Hendricks

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Simon Estes

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Barbara Conrad

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Vinson Cole

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Grace Bumbry

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Betty Allen

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Donnie Ray Albert

Many if not all of these singers faced intense racial prejudice in establishing the rights of black singers to perform with regional, national, and international opera companies. Alison Kinney’s “As the Met Abandons Blackface, a Look at the Legacy of African Americans in Opera” details struggles faced by black American opera singers as well as the use of white singers to portray black characters, as does Naomi Adele André’s Blackness in Opera (available for checkout from the Monroe Library).

The materials pictured above, and many more like them, are available for research in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives at Special Collections & Archives‘ Booth-Bricker Reading Room Monday – Friday from 9am-4:30pm.

A Night at the Opera

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On February 10th, at around 7:30 p.m., I walked into the Mahalia Jackson Theater. I gave the staff my ticket, and walked in. It seemed a little bland at first, but I got a a soda at the bar and made my way to my seat. It was in the center, in the middle of the large auditorium, so it was perfect. They called for the start at 7:55, and then, the curtains rose at around 8:10 after announcements. That’s when a man hobbled to the center of the stage, and started to break out into song about a demon barber.

The New Orleans Opera Association performed Sweeney Todd last weekend, and I had the chance to go see it. After scanning the pamphlets for months, I must admit, I was curious to see the opera for myself.

Although they missed out a chance to make it a dinner theater, it was still amazing. The voices were extremely talented, the set was wonderful, and how they managed to make blood spurt 10 feet into the air still confuses me. If anyone is not familiar with the story, I apologize. It is exactly what it sounds like. The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd, slit throats with a razor in order to fulfill his thirst for revenge. They inconspicuously managed to put a device on the victims and make blood spurt, even getting some on the orchestra, before making the chair seat drop and the body fell through the floor and into the basement, where they were ground up for meat pies. That thankfully was just props.  The show totaled up to 3 hours, with a 20 minute intermission, and it was 11 when I got out. Even though I was absolutely tired, ready to peel my makeup off and curl up in some blankets, I had such a wonderful time.

For anyone that hasn’t gone to see the New Orleans Opera, I highly recommend you go. They’re currently in their 74th year, so if there’s any year that you should go, it’s the next. They have numerous performances planned until then, so if you want to have a night of pure talent and have your mind blown, give them a visit!

We also have an exhibit on the New Orleans Opera Association in Special Collections & Archives and  pamphlets in our digital collections if you are curious to learn about their history.

-This blog was written by student worker Miranda

Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrating Black History Month

In his 1983 landmark study of national identity, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson writes that people are united by the fact that they’ve forgotten the same things. It is, Anderson asserts, the shared act of common remembering that draws people together (191-2). While there are many ways that we commemorate Black History Month, the library’s place as the repository of books and of memory itself positions it as a key site of imagined community for this shared remembering. In the interest of fostering such an act of communal memory, Monroe Library has assembled displays of our print and digital holdings in black history and culture in the United States.

Located at the LC desk, our print display features the work of black artists and thinkers from a wide range of disciplines: poetry, drama, music, fiction, visual arts, autobiography, and social commentary. We’ve assembled a chorus of voices, visions, and viewpoints that includes the earliest slave narratives, the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, the theater of the Black Arts movement, and the contemporary cultural critique of bell hooks and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Feel free to stop by and check out a book from our display. Or, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask a librarian.

If you’re interested in browsing our online, digital collections, be sure to check out our research guide – especially useful for class projects! The guide collects together a large range of digital materials on black culture, art, and history, including vintage and contemporary newspapers, print and electronic encyclopedias, ebooks, music, and movies.

- Victoria Elmwood

Work Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso, 2006.