It’s my Twitter anniversary, and I’m celebrating by breaking up with Twitter.

Thirteen years ago, part of my job was persuading reluctant reporters to use Twitter. Today, I want to apologize to all of those journalists who have been abused by the hordes of anonymous sociopaths and jerks on Twitter, have been absorbed into its addictive and unrequited time-sucking platform, or both.

I’m clearly not Chrissy Teigen or Meghan Markle or Elon Musk, and Twitter won’t miss me or my half-legion of followers. …


Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

If you’re a journalist on Facebook, and you have friends and family and followers who are not journalists on Facebook, since about 2016 you probably have taken on a new role.

Facebook whisperer.

“Hey cuz, did you see this story from NaturalNews.com? Wth? Is it true?”

“A shark swimming in someone’s front yard?? That can’t be real. (Is it?)”

“Check out this ad about Hillary Clinton!! If this is true I’m not voting for her!! (Right??)”

Nights and weekends particularly during election season, I’ve jumped into Facebook Messenger to answer questions; then I move onto the news feed to extinguish…


The latest calculations of women and minorities in newsrooms are here, and there were no surprises for those of us who live in the world of journalism. The percentage of women in newsrooms has barely moved since 2001 and people of color fared not much better.

How we got here, of course, is complicated and byzantine. To be fair, it is not completely a manifestation of newsrooms’ stunted hiring practices. But nearly everyone in journalism today can accept some blame for not thinking deeply about our own roles in propagating the segregation of our profession.

Now that you’ve read the…


While I’m just a tiny bit sad that it took a man to mention this, I was happy to see one particular recommendation in Huffington Post writer Todd Lombardo’s advice to people who participated in the Women’s March on Washington.

His “what to do now” suggestions for the hundreds of thousands of mostly female marchers include what to read, how to contact your congressperson, where to send donations.

And most importantly: Become a fact-checker of your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“Respond to falsehoods with truth” on social media, he says.


Here’s a typical tale from the atypical 2016 U.S. presidential election:

A sketchy “news site” publishes a fake story about Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

Equally sketchy partisan sites pick up the story. It flows into Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and mailboxes, maybe even yours.

Then Fox TV host Sean Hannity repeats it to millions of people. And compounds the problem by getting the fake facts wrong.

CNN’s Brian Stelter makes a valiant attempt to stop the story from spreading. But we all know how the tale ends; journalists are outnumbered in the war against facts.

America, this is why we can’t have nice elections.

Fake news is particularly…


Once upon a time — like, 48 hours ago — the second presidential debate likely was going to be about facts and jobs and health care and Syria with a little dash of Benghazi and unpaid taxes.

Now, after Friday’s worldwide simultaneous jawdrop, who knows what will happen when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face two moderators and a room full of horrified Midwesterners.

Still, it’s possible that someone will discuss something other than the aphrodisiacal properties of furniture and Tic Tacs. So for those of you who plan to keep Twitter and Facebook close by as your second screen…


People at tiny Longwood University in Virginia acknowledge that the campus truly is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and farms and towns even smaller than theirs. Both students and faculty jokingly call their town “FarmVegas” instead of Farmville.

The school has barely 5,000 students and a “university” designation so fresh that state residents still forgetfully call it “Longwood College.”

But out of hundreds of campuses around the country that have wanted to host a presidential debate, Longwood is one of the very few lucky winners. …


Flickr Creative Commons

The final 2016 presidential debate series starts Monday night, and just like your wedding, everyone wants to weigh in on how to make it the perfect event.

A retired state employee from Boise thinks a “kill switch” would be a great idea. This high school debate team is sad that candidates are allowed to interrupt each other at a presidential debate. Media Matters is concerned about Donald Trump’s “debate trap.” Fast Company suggests that everyone in the debate room stand on their own two feet, literally.

But more than anything else — like the angst over how many bridesmaids there should be before they start upstaging the bride — people want to debate over how the moderator fits into the event. …


What’s behind the curtain? Tell the people!

In our newsletter, “The Week in Fact-Checking,” Alexios Mantzarlis and I like to highlight the best fact-checking and accountability journalism we’ve seen around the world.

Frankly, we’d like to honor more of this work. But the bar is high. By its nature, this type of journalism is held to a greater standard. There’s less sympathy for error and terrifically high importance placed on accuracy. As it should be.

We’ve studied piles of research, metrics and content over the past few years, and it’s clear that good fact-checking must include certain elements. We’ve gathered them below. …


Lee Green/Flickr Creative Commons

The Washington Post’s popular weekly column, “What was fake on the Internet this week,” ended Friday after 19 months of debunking stories about new Oreo flavors, Syrians invading New Orleans, and just about every absurdity in between.

Caitlin Dewey, who wrote the column for the Post’s Intersect blog, explained to readers that the decision to end it was prompted by changes in “the pace and tenor of fake news,” which she said now is often fueled by hate and exploitive entrepreneurs.

The reaction on social media was fast and supportive, with a few conspiracy theories thrown in, of course. This…

Jane Elizabeth

Now: Media consultant. Priors: The Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raleigh News & Observer, American Press Institute; Pitt, ODU, Point Park adjunct.

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