Avoiding Clickbait: A How-to Guide

If you used the internet at all in the ‘10s it’s probably happened to you: you saw a headline so outrageous and intriguing you just HAD to click it, even though you hate the site and the article was crap anyway. Maybe the title made you angry or just looked neat. So even though the actual content of the site sucks, the title always grabs you. That’s called clickbait. We’ve all dealt with it and it sucks. But as long as sites keep getting hits for doing it there’s no way to avoid it, bad sites just keep getting free publicity and clicks.

But if you’re sick of participating in this system and don’t want to give free views to crappy sites anymore, you’re in luck! There’s an easy way to view these articles without giving these jerks any clicks. That way bad content creators don’t profit off you.

1. Find the link to the article you want to read, right-click and select “Copy Link Address”

2. Go to an archival site such as Archive.Today or DoNotLink

3. Paste the URL into the bar.

Bam! You’re done. Now you don’t have to give bad or toxic sites any validation AND you can find out why this rapping baby is making rednecks so angry.

15 tips for newsgathering via Twitter

I gave a talk to political journalists covering the UK election at Twitter HQ last week. Here’s a slightly adapted version of the Twitter newsgathering tips that I shared.

1. Create your own lists

I’m often surprised how few journalists create and use Twitter lists. What’s the benefit? If like me you follow more than about 500 people, your home feed can be busy. By creating lists around specific topics you can set up a niche newswire on any subject.

Take this oil and energy list by my colleague Georgi Kantchev, for example. Georgi joined The Wall Street Journal a few months ago and created this specialised feed to use in Tweetdeck (which he could also use in an app such as Tweetbot).

Remember, lists can be public (so other people can follow them) or private.

Stay focused on a topic. I think the first list I ever created was one called ‘journalists’. This was fairly useless as a list as it simply gave me a newsfeed that was far too broad to be useful to me as the list members were tweeting on a broad range of topics.

Related: A great case study in newsgathering via lists from Henk van Ess. 

2. Follow other people’s lists

As with the first tip, this might seem obvious to many. I’m including it here as again, I’m always surprised as to how few journalists benefit from a fellow Twitter user’s curation. But how to find lists that are useful? One tip is to consider who might have a useful list. When I first joined Journalism.co.uk, an obvious person to have a good list of innovative thinkers in digital journalism was Jeff Jarvis. I hopped over to his profile and sure enough found Media Wonks, a list I still return to from time to time. Also see points 3 and 4.

3. Look what lists a source is a member of and follow the trail

Imagine you are reporting on Ferguson from afar and you spot a newsworthy tweet.

One way you could find other potentially useful sources is by looking at the lists this person is a member of. I see that he is a member of a number of lists. I quickly find this particularly useful list curated by Derek Bowler from Storyful. I can subscribe and add the list to Tweedeck and have a dedicated Ferguson wire with minimal research.

It seems it is now harder to see list memberships via Twitter.com. 

You can see list memberships using Tweetdeck or type ‘memberships’ at the end of the Twitter user’s URL.


4. Storyful has some great lists

As a social media editor at a global news organisation known for its world news, I have to zone into a new region on an almost daily basis. My first step is almost always to find a Storyful list and add that to my Tweetdeck.

Storyful, a social news agency, has a list for every country in the world. The lists are comprised of journalists and trusted sources on the ground. Storyful also curates lists around other useful topics.

When the Pope was in the Philippines, an area from where I previously followed next to no one, I opened the Philippines list and the Vatican list; when the Copenhagen shootings happened I soon found the Denmark list a rich source of information. When news of Charlie Hebdo broke, I was aided by looking at what French journalists and trusted sources were tweeting; when the Germanwings plane crashed on Tuesday, I opened three lists: the Germany list, the Spain list and one on aviation.

When the Bardo attack happened in Tunisia I opened the Tunisia list twice: one column to show all tweets, another to show tweets with photos (see point 11).

5. Consider having a changing list

I’m not sure how common this is or even how useful that it would be to someone who has a narrow news beat, but I have a ‘changing key news list’ that I add to and remove from on an almost daily basis. When a news event happens and I find a particularly useful source, often from a Storyful list, I’ll add that person to this focused list. It’s the first list in my Tweetdeck and the most useful.

My changing list is an eclectic mix of people and currently contains sources from Yemen, Kobani and Ferguson. I try and keep it focused by removing people. So when the cafe siege was taking place in Australia I had news sources in the list whom I have since removed.

6. Search for lists using Google 

When I was preparing for a WSJ training session last month I was able to screen grab and demonstrate how to search other people’s Twitter lists. This feature introduced exactly a year ago seems to have disappeared. A shame as it was really useful. I’m therefore reverting to advice I shared before the now defunct feature was added, and offering this search tip for finding lists via Google.


If you know how to site search and other Google operators, it should make sense; if you don’t, you may want to jump to this blog post for an explainer.

7. Consider copying lists using the List Copy tool

I recently came across this List Copy tool, created by a student. In the spirit wanting to encourage a good Twitter culture, I’m suggesting following other people’s list rather than grab and go, but this could come in handy.

On a side note, I copied over Derek’s Ferguson list (see point 3) and it was noticed.

8. Use Twitter Advanced Search

A useful starting point for searches, particularly if you haven’t got to grips with operators (see point 9), is Twitter’s Advanced Search.

You can search by location and time frame, for example.

9. Use Twitter Search for location searches

Did you know that Twitter has a Google-like search page? You can use this as an alternative to the search box in Twitter.com or the one in Tweetdeck.

One thing you can do is a location search, which are beneficial to journalists. If you know a particular tweet was sent from a location, you know that source is on the ground and this helps in verification. The downside is that only 4% of people geolocate their tweets (Joanna Geary from Twitter tells me 4%; I see it’s given as 2% in this study on Twitter and ISIS).

A really useful operator is the near:xxx within:xxmi search. A search for near:ferguson within:5mi will give me geolocated tweets sent within 5 miles of ferguson, for example.

10. Learn to love operators

In addition to the near command, a link on the Twitter Search page details a number of other operators. And the more you use them the more useful they will become.

At the election event I spoke at last week, Joanna Geary used the example of this search (it may have been slightly different but it was this idea):

list:democlub/candidates-2015 to:davidcameron ?

What does this provide? It gives you tweets containing a question sent by any candidate standing in May’s UK general election to David Cameron (Democracy Club’s list of candidates is here). 

Twitter Search is great if you are on a one-time hunt for information, but having a search like the ask David Cameron one set up as a Tweetdeck column is probably more useful as you will notice as questions are asked (also see point 11).

11. Embrace Tweetdeck filters

“If you take one thing away from this talk,” I told the political hacks gathered at Twitter, “it’s embrace the Tweetdeck filter.”

There’s a complete guide to using Tweetdeck here with more on the filter. You can set this to only show tweets in a particular language, exclude false positives or only show tweets with images, for example. Tip 14 is a use case.

12. Set up Tweetdeck searches based on URL

In addition to the wealth Tweetdeck of column searches you can have based on operators, you may also consider a Tweetdeck column based on a URL. At the ONA London event earlier this month, Malachy Browne from Reported.ly shared such an example.

I don’t remember his exact search but it went something like this (though not based on this list). It was based on a list of ISIS supporters with the search set up for video OR فيديو (video in Arabic) AND the justpaste.it domain, a site ISIS uses to post material such as videos. Malachy explained that a combination of this search with an alert (see point 13) was how was alerted to the release of an ISIS video purportedly showing 21 coptic Christians.

13. Use sounds and popups (and use the Twitter app alert)

You may well find that it is sufficient to take a cursory glance at most of your Tweetdeck columns a couple of times a day. But what if you want an alert immediately, as soon as a parliamentary candidate asks Cameron a question or when an ISIS supporter shares a justpaste.it link? Within Tweetdeck you can set a popup and / or sound to alert you when a new match is made.

You may simply want an alert when an individual tweets. For example, on the day of the solar eclipse, I set up an alert for tweets sent by Christin Kristoffersen, mayor of Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s biggest settlement, which was one of the locations to experience a full solar eclipse. I knew she would be sharing video and was keen to embed in a blog post.

An alternative way to find out when an individual tweets is to use the Twitter app to get a push to your phone.

14. Use the Tweetdeck engagement filter to find memes

When I spotted people commenting on Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’s ill-timed photo shoot in French magazine Paris Match, I saw the potential for a roundup of the best comments on our Brussels blog.

To find the best I drew on Twitter’s human algorithm, filtering and finding the tweets that were the most retweeted. I entered the search term Varoufakis OR @YanisVaroufakis and used the filter to show only tweets that had been RTed more than 30 times. I also selected to only show only tweets with images, to give me a visual blog post. I could have also used the filter to show tweets that had been favorited by at least 10 people, for example.

15. Search bios using FollowerWonk

I added this tip to the talk last minute after talking to an attendee from Sky News who reminded me of the usefulness of being able to find an “entrepreneur in Sunderland”, for example. There’s no easy way to search Twitter bios within Twitter so that’s where third-party tool FollowerWonk comes in.

Related: Joanna Geary’s guide on using Twitter to cover the election.

Shahla Sherkat

Women’s rights advocate Shahla Sherkat was born on March 30, 1956 in Isfahan, Iran. For sixteen years, Sherkat was editor of the women’s magazine Zanan, which was shut down under Ahmadinejad’s administration. Zanan covered issues such as HIV/AIDS and divorce laws in Iran, and the publication was both attacked by gangs and targeted by the government. In 2014, she launched a new publication, Zanan-e Ermuz (Today’s Women). Sherkat has won the Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism from the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, as well as the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Happy birthday, Shahla Sherkat!


But they keep telling us it’s all in our heads. We are making it up. (Source)

Two Media Matters for America studies of crime coverage in 2014 uncovered a disturbing pattern—every major network affiliate station in New York is consistently over-representing Black people as perpetrators of crime. They are unfairly and disproportionately focusing their crime reporting on Black suspects, and inaccurately exaggerating the proportion of Black people involved in crime—on average, exaggerating by 24 percentage points.

Read the report (HERE).

Is the media gonna talk about these white dudes brawling in the street or not?

I told y’all I don’t even entertain the notion of St. Patrick’s Day.

A violent St. Patrick’s day brawl among white adult men in the middle of Manhattan — which was caught on video — has resulted in no arrests, and only one news report of the incident.

That’s compared to the reams of articles and the five arrests resulting from a video last week of a fight among a group of black teenage girls in a Brooklyn McDonald’s.


Keep reading

When Ethel Payne stood to ask President Dwight Eisenhower a question at a White House press conference in July 1954, women and African-Americans were rarities in the press corps. Payne was both, and wrote for The Chicago Defender, the legendary black newspaper that in the 40s and 50s, was read in black American households the way The New York Times was in white ones.

In Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, First Lady of the Black Press, author James McGrath Morris, examines her life and legacy.

From Selma To Eisenhower, Trailblazing Black Reporter Was Always Probing

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center/Harper Collins

Caption: Ethel Payne interviews a soldier from Chesapeake, Va., in Vietnam in 1967.

Mexico’s Most Prominent Journalist, Carmen Aristegui, Fired After Exposing Government Corruption

Carmen Aristegui, largely regarding as Mexico’s most prominent journalist, was fired Sunday by MVS Radio.

An official statement by the radio network stated Aristegui was fired because they would not accept the reporter’s ultimatum to rehire her investigative team, the same team responsible for exposing government corruption involving contractor kickbacks and prostitution.

Owners of the radio network claimed members of this investigative team were unauthorized to use the company’s name and logo for MexicoLeaks, a whistleblower initiative which launched last Tuesday, and therefore violated the company’s “breach of trust.”

Mexican civil society expressed their outrage online, and in the streets.

Image via Monero Rapé

Follow the link above to see new Storify. 

I think there’s so many times when girls and young women are told, “It’s just not gonna work out.” And if I could give anyone advice, it would be this idea that the doing it or not doing it is up to you. And you have to run around and exploit all the resources around you. Pick people’s brains, bring them lunch, buy them coffee — and just get in there to see how people who are doing what you want to do are doing it. Learn by watching and osmosis. There’s so much of life that is being book smart, but there’s a big chunk that’s just understanding how stuff works.

I think women are often talked out of things. I remember when I had just had my twins, I had four kids under four years old. And the tsunami happened in 2004. I got a call from someone at CNN, and they said “well, we’re supposed to try to send someone to Thailand, but I know you won’t want to go, because moms don’t want to travel.” And I said to her, “Well, I have four kids under four, so Thailand sounds amazing!” And they sent me to Thailand. But it reminded me that you constantly have to challenge people’s expectations. [The caller] wasn’t trying to be mean, she just had expectations about what a new mom would do and she was foisting those expectations on to me. I said “Listen, here’s what I want to do.” You have to restate it, sometimes firmly, sometimes gently, sometimes with a smile, and just constantly write your path — and try to figure out how to get there. Hitting people up for information, help, guidance, advice, but staying on that path of “here’s what I want to do.” We’re just constantly, as women, talked out of it. “You can’t do this and that” — but you can. You really can. If it’s something you really want to do, you can. And I think that’s a message that a lot of young women need to hear. You have to set the parameters of the experience and the success that you want to have.

Taken together, this anachronistic style of coverage reproduces, in condensed form, many of the worst habits of modern American journalism on the subject of Africa. To be clear, this means that Africa only warrants the public’s attention when there is disaster or human tragedy on an immense scale, when Westerners can be elevated to the role of central characters, or when it is a matter of that perennial favorite, wildlife. As a corollary, Africans themselves are typically limited to the role of passive victims, or occasionally brutal or corrupt villains and incompetents; they are not otherwise shown to have any agency or even the normal range of human thoughts and emotions. Such a skewed perspective not only disserves Africa, it also badly disserves the news viewing and news reading public.
—  From an open letter posted on Africa is a Country to CBS’ 60 Minutes program regarding the lack of actual African voices in their recent reporting from African countries, including stories on wildlife conservation efforts in Gabon and South Africa and the fight against ebola in Liberia.

Guerrero State Police Injure Ayotzinapa Students in Attack Reminiscent of Sept. 26 in Iguala

In an incident reminiscent of the September 26 Igual attack that disappeared 43 students, at least 3 normalistas from the Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa were injured Saturday from beatings received by Guerrero state police. A reported 50 students were traveling on a bus when it was stopped and they were forcibly removed.

The confrontation began soon after 12 noon near the town of Tierras Prietas, reports teleSUR.

In response, normalistas and supporters set fire to 2 Tixtla municipal police vehicles. 2 students arrested by state police were later released.

Stay tuned for more information.

Video via Bernardo Torres 

Sometimes when I share articles, people have trouble accessing them without a subscription. So here is the Friday, March 6, was the first #BlackoutDay. It was also referred to as #Blackout or #BlackFriday.

Why #BlackoutDay’s social media takeover matters
By Melissa Bellerjeau

This social media movement was started by a Tumblr user, “expect-the-greatest,” in response to seeing a lack of black people on his Tumblr.

He acknowledged the presence of black celebrities but went on to say, “What about the regular people? Where is their shine?”

This mentality, that all black people are beautiful and should be celebrated, was the driving force behind the movement. It was a day to celebrate individuality and express solidarity.

#BlackoutDay took over Tumblr, challenging all black people to post a selfie and everyone to exclusively re-blog #blackout pictures. The movement seeped into Instagram and was a trending topic on both Twitter and Facebook.

There has been talk about making this a regular social media occurrence the first Friday of every month. The user who created #BlackoutDay has already said the next one would take place on April 3.

Like any successful movement, it had its critics. They wrote that black people shouldn’t get their own day and that the day itself was racist. The #yellowout and more notorious #whiteout tag were made in an effort to draw attention away from it.

These efforts were futile. People began simply filling the #whiteout tag with #blackout posts or with images of Quick Dry White Out. Those who verbally responded to the #whiteout tag essentially said every day was #whiteout day.

If you search online for “beautiful people,” the results are overwhelmingly … well, white. In America, the traditional fair-skinned European standard of beauty is the ideal.

According to the FashionSpot.com, 77.4 percent of the models in this year’s New York Fashion Week were white. A 2013 study by USC’s Annenberg School For Communication & Journalism determined that 76.3 percent of speaking characters in 500 top-grossing films released between 2007 and 2012 were white.

The majority of my U.S. history courses have focused primarily on the accomplishments of white people, and when they do focus on minorities, it is simply to discuss their oppression or efforts to escape oppression.

YouTube personality Franchesca Ramsey summed it up by saying, “Unfortunately, in most popular media talking about black people … it’s mostly of us breaking the law, being killed or mistreated. So it’s nice to combat these negative images and stereotypes with positive representations of ourselves.”

Many people also used this day to discuss the lack of minority faces in media. Now to be fair, whites are the overwhelming majority in America, so it makes sense for them to be more commonly represented. However, the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimated there are 45 million black people in the U.S. This includes those who are “black only” and those who are black and another race.

To put that into perspective, that’s more than the total populations of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware combined. It’s a lot of people who, when they turn on their TVs or look at a magazine or go anywhere, see mostly people who don’t look like them.

One father wrote on Tumblr: “My 4-year-old son came to me today and asked me why God made us black. He didn’t understand why he was black when everyone else in his preschool class is white.”

As a biracial person myself, I am so used to being the only person in my class, at my job, at a party, etc. who looks like me. It’s not so bad now, but when I was younger, it was really difficult. And it is for minority youth because it’s human nature to want to fit in, but your very essence makes you stand out.

The father went on to write: “It was amazing I could get on Tumblr today and show him all the black people who were proud of their dark skin and how black people come in different shades, sizes and backgrounds.”

And that is what makes movements like this so important and so special.