Fake News, Facts, and Alternative Facts Teach-Out


How can you distinguish credible information from “fake news”? Reliable information is at the heart of what makes an effective democracy, yet many people find it harder to differentiate good journalism from propaganda. Increasingly, inaccurate information is shared on Facebook and echoed by a growing number of explicitly partisan news outlets. This becomes more problematic because people have a tendency to accept agreeable messages over challenging claims, even if the former are less objectively credible. In this teach-out, we examine the processes that generate both accurate and inaccurate news stories, and that lead people to believe those stories. We then provide a series of tools that ordinary citizens can use to tell fact from fiction.

A Teach-Out is:

-an event – it takes place over a fixed, short period of time

-an opportunity – it is open for free participation to everyone around the world

-a community – it will be joined by a large number of diverse individuals

-a conversation – an opportunity to give and take ideas and information from people

The University of Michigan Teach-Out Series provides just-in-time community learning events for participants around the world to come together in conversation with the U-M campus community, including faculty experts. The U-M Teach-Out Series is part of our deep commitment to engage the public in exploring and understanding the problems, events, and phenomena most important to society.

Teach-Outs are short learning experiences, each focused on a specific current issue. Attendees will come together over a few days not only to learn about a subject or event but also to gain skills. Teach-Outs are open to the world and are designed to bring together individuals with wide-ranging perspectives in respectful and deep conversation. These events are an opportunity for diverse learners and a multitude of experts to come together to ask questions of one another and explore new solutions to the pressing concerns of our global community. Come, join the conversation!

Find new opportunities at teach-out.org.


  • Josh Pasek

    Josh Pasek

    Assistant Professor

  • Will Potter

    Will Potter

    Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism

  • Brian Weeks

    Brian Weeks

    Assistant Professor


1 out of 5 stars

November 29, 2017

Some points of interest. Disappointingly biased information, lecturers tailored to a singular political bias which ruined the whole point of the course. Very little information included on actual applicable skills, too much roundabout theory and then pushing their own biases and idealising the mainstream media as a perfect and professional resource. Completely and wilfully ignorant about the massive failings of mainstream and tabloid journalism and the infection of editorial journalism that is presented to readers, listeners and viewers as news. The people behind this course need to seriously deal with their own biases and blindspots to make something that is genuinely useful to people wanting to use news as a source of information about the world and society.

5 out of 5 stars

October 25, 2017

Great attitude to share their knowledge to the rest of us. Using facts recently happens make reflexion in a scientific way. Thanks a lot.

5 out of 5 stars

October 22, 2017

Even handed introduction to journalism, current.

4 out of 5 stars

October 21, 2017

Good, structured summary of the problem, does give some guidance on the way forward, not deep enough - due to time constraints...