Thanks to the Internet, facts can spread faster than a stomach bug in a kindergarten classroom. The only problem is that many of those “facts” turn out not to be true.

Somehow we’ve moved from the Information Age into the Era of Fake News. How dangerous is it to live in this era? Consider that fake news led a gunman to go into a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. in search of a child sex ring that he believed had been started by Hillary Clinton. Consider that fake news has led thousands of parents to leave their children dangerously unvaccinated against diseases that were once nearly eradicated.

How did we get here? The Founding Fathers of this country knew that democracy could not exist without the right of the press to question our leaders, to look deeper into their statements, and to do so without fear of reprisal from elected officials. But they couldn’t have imagined the Internet.

Information is moving very rapidly these days. How do you know what news sources to trust? How do we avoid getting into a news bubble that keeps us from fully understanding what’s going on in the country?

These are serious questions that we are — or should be — asking one another and ourselves. Luckily, there are journalists living in our community who can help us sort out these issues. I invite you to join a panel of distinguished media professionals and me Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Community Synagogue in Rye to talk about Fake News, The First Amendment, and Democracy. This free event is sponsored by We Persist; registration is required at https://fakenewsmediapanel.eventbrite.com

It will be an evening for all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, to come together and understand the new media landscape and its implications for all of us.

— Andi Hessekiel