Nora Benavidez - Ambassadors of Truth: How Librarians Can Help Save Our Democracy This November

The spread of disinformation threatens the fabric of our democracy, and public trust in the press is declining. As we head toward a national election this fall, PEN America believes it is vital to equip the public with the knowledge and skills to become more discerning news consumers, fit to defend themselves against disinformation.

The spread of disinformation threatens the fabric of our democracy, and public trust in the press is declining. As we head toward a national election this fall, PEN America believes it is vital to equip the public with the knowledge and skills to become more discerning news consumers, fit to defend themselves against disinformation.

Recognizing the urgency around targeted disinformation in the election context, librarians can be powerful stewards of public trust with the potential to help communities make sense of what they're seeing online this fall. Reaching communities -- often riddled with distrust of media and institutions in our society -- can be difficult. To help empower librarians with the tools to engage members of their library communities on these nuanced topics, PEN America will lead an interactive workshop session about the powerful role librarians can play in the lead-up to the November election as "ambassadors of truth" to help civilians make sense of what they see online.

Specifically, we will explore how mis- and disinformation will likely affect and impact our 2020 election with ample time to discuss what kinds of programming librarians may produce in the virtual age. In this 60-minute training, PEN America will provide resources for librarians to lead webinar-style trainings for their constituents regarding best practices in media literacy education to help save our democracy. Topics to be covered will be:

  • The proliferation of disinformation and misinformation in the news
  • Hotspot election topics with heightened proliferation of misleading content
  • EN America’s media literacy toolkit
  • Creative ways for librarians to engage their library constituents to spot and stop the spread of disinformation during this election season.

Libraries have the power to change the world.
At the Library Advocacy and Funding Conference you'll learn the skills you need to improve your community and build support for funding your library.

Nora Benavidez is the director of PEN America’s U.S. Free Expression Programs, where she guides the organization’s national advocacy agenda on First Amendment and free expression issues to defend press freedom where journalists are targeted for their work, to combat disinformation which threatens to erode engagement in democratic institutions, and to fight back against forms of censorship that chill writers. She also manages PEN America’s media literacy program, which works with communities and newsrooms to help equip online users with tools to better combat the spread of disinformation. Benavidez is a lawyer by training, and prior to joining PEN America, she worked in private practice and at the ACLU of Georgia as a civil and human rights litigator.

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