Author Archives: Rebecca Aguilar

Eight Men Arrested in Fort Worth on Federal Child Sex Trafficking Charges

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Eight men are in federal custody on charges of sex trafficking of children. They were arrested following an investigation by the Fort Worth Police Department’s VICE Unit. The men went before a federal judge in Fort Worth on Tuesday and were officially charged and remain behind bars.

  • Pierre Lagrone, aka “P” or “Pedro,” 33
  • Robert Roseberry, aka “King Rose,” 29
  • Herman Sanders, aka “Pooh,” 29
  • Reginald Smith, aka “Green Light,” 28
  • Demarcus Davis, aka “Zigg,” 25
  • Kentrell Davis, aka “Zeal,” 24
  • Cederrick Clarkson, aka “Ced” or “Spazz,” 25
  • Terroderick Watts, aka “Silk,” 27

According to an affidavit in March of 2017, the Fort Worth Police Department’s VICE Unit conducted a recovery operation in response to a lead sent from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in reference to a suspected victim of Child Sex Trafficking.

Fort Worth police found a Backpage.com ad containing photographs of a minor female, Jane Doe 1, that advertised commercial sex acts. As a result of the operation, Jane Doe 1 was recovered. Additionally, two other minor females were also found in a closet located in Jane Doe 1’s hotel room at the time she was recovered.

The three females, and others, were victims of a child sex trafficking organization. Investigators say Lagrone, Roseberry, Sanders, Smith, D. Davis, K. Davis, Clarkson and Watts were members of that organization and recruited, advertised and sold several women, both adults and underage for the purpose of sex.

The suspects worked together as an organization by using some of the same underage and adult female victims to engage in sex acts, often working out of the same hotels. They transported female victims for the purpose of commercial sex acts, utilizing and sharing cellphones that were used to post ads for commercial sex on Backpage.com,

They also took pictures of the girls and women either nude or in their underwear and posted them as Backpage.com ads . The defendants were also frequently violent if the females angered them or did not follow their directions.

If convicted, the men face life in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Source: U.S. Justice Department >>U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas

CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING IS MODERN DAY SLAVERY

Backpage.com is where many child sex traffickers do their business according to this mother called Nacole. She says her teenage daughter became a sex slave and ended up “in the hands of a very evil man.” He posted her daughter’s photo also on backpage.com.  Listen to this very emotional story.

 

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Mika Brzezinski threatens to pull book deal with Weinstein unless he resigns, Lisa Bloom quits his legal team

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Photo courtesy: MSNBC

 

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski is taking a stand. She has a three-year book deal with Harvey Weinstein’s publishing company, but she’s ending that relationship if he doesn’t resign. Saturday morning she took to Twitter to explain why.

 

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A New York Times investigation “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades” uncovered three decades of sexual harassment allegations and at least eight legal settlements with accusers. They were everyone from  two actresses to assistants.

Weinstein put together a legal team before the New York Times story came out.
It came as a surprise to many women that attorney Lisa Bloom had joined his team. She is known as a crusader for victims of sexual harassment who represented several of Bill O’Reilly’s accusers.  Maybe she had a loyalty to Weinstein since his company is planning to turn Bloom’s book on Travyon Martin into a miniseries.

Bloom took a big turn on Saturday afternoon when she also quit Weinstein’s team of lawyers and consultants. She said the following on Twitter.

 

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It is not known if Bloom’s decision was influenced by the backlash of angry women and no word yet on whether she still wants Weinstein’s company to produce the miniseries. I did send her a tweet with those questions since she made her resignation statement on Twitter.

Weinstein took a leave of absence after the Times published its story. He put out a statement trying to explain himself,  blaming his behavior on growing up in the 60’s and 70’s when according to him the workplace culture was different. Here is part of his statement:

 

I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces
were different. That was the culture then.

I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.

I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with
the people I work with have changed.

 

The New York Times story has had a domino effect. Board members have quit the Weinstein Company board of directors as reported by the Times.

So far, Weinstein has only threatened to sue the New York Times for its investigative report. To be continued…

 

SOURCES:

New York Times (10/5/2017) Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades.

Los Angeles Time (10/5/2017) Harvey Weinstein to take a leave of absence amid sexual harassment claims, threatens lawsuit over report.

The Hollywood Reporter (4/19/2017) Attorney Lisa Bloom Declares Victory After Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Exit. 

Harvey Weinstein Statement 

New York Times (10/6/2017) Company Scrambles as Weinstein Takes Leave and a Third of the Board Resigns

 

 

Vivian Castleberry: trailblazer for women in journalism, dies at 95

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Archive photo: Vivian Castleberry

95-year-old Vivian Castleberry passed away Tuesday morning at her daughter’s home in Georgia. The former newspaper editor will always be remembered as the woman who opened doors for females in journalism starting in the 1950’s.

Journalism was always in her blood. She was determined to have a career at a time when most women stayed home to take care of their families.

Castleberry was a journalist at her high school in East Texas. She went to Southern Methodist University (SMU) where she joined the newspaper. There she started as a writer and eventually moved up to feature editor and then to assistant editor.

From 1956 to 1984, Castleberry held the position of women’s editor for the Dallas Times Herald’s Living section. She was known for being objective and exposing cultural taboos and didn’t let resistance from other editors at the Times Herald stop her.

She was one of the first reporters who wrote about topics like domestic violence, inequality at work, and child abuse. Castleberry also became the first woman elected to the newspaper’s editorial board. She won numerous awards for her work.

The JFK Assassination 

Castleberrry covered many interesting stories during her career.  She was working the day President John F. Kennedy visited Dallas on November 22, 1963. She got first hand information of Kennedy’s assassination from her cousin who was standing next to Abe Zapruder. He was the photographer who took what has become the most important film documentation of Kennedy’s assassination.  Castleberry said her cousin was Zapruder’s assistant but was never interviewed by the Warren Commission which looked into the case.

The many stages of Vivian Castleberry

Castleberry was one of the first women to show that a mother can work and raise her children. She and her husband had five children, and Castleberry kept on working.

She wrote four books: Daughters of Dallas, The Texas Tornado, Sarah the Bridge Builder, and Seeds of Success. In 1984, Castleberry was inducted into the Texas Woman’s Hall of Fame.

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Vivian Castleberry & Anita Marcos, President of Peacemakers. Photo courtesy: Lucy Huffstteter

Castleberry also founded Peacemakers Incorporated. In 1988, she served as Chairwoman of Peacemakers’ First International Women’s Peace Conference, which was attended by over 2,000 women from 57 countries.

In 2010, the University of North Texas established the Castleberry Peace Institute. Today it offers cutting-edge research and educational programs on the causes of war and peace.

Vivian Castleberry will always be known as a true Texas Trailblazer.

More sources on Vivian Castleberry

The Portal to Texas History: Oral History Interview with Vivian Castleberry

Castleberry Peace Institute

The Senior Voice

CalBuzz “Oswald’s been Shot”

Dallas Morning News:  Vivian Castleberry

Peacemakers, Inc.

Jimmy Kimmel calls out Republican Senators after the Las Vegas massacre

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Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Once again it takes Jimmy Kimmel to make us sit back and think about gun violence, the politics behind gun control and the senseless murders of innocent people.

Kimmel has become the voice of reason on late night talk shows. A few weeks ago taking on Republican lawmakers on a health care bill that he believed was not good for Americans. It appeared his influence had an impact. The Graham-Cassidy bill died when Republicans decided not to vote on it because they they didn’t have enough committed votes.

Monday night Kimmel opened his monologue choking back tears as he reminded us about the deaths, injured and wounded left behind in Las Vegas by one gunman.

Here is a transcript of Kimmel’s powerful and emotional message:

“No way to know why a human being would do something like this to other human beings”

As you know, at least 59 people are dead, hundreds of people are wounded in what they’re saying is the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history coming about a year and a half after the previous deadliest mass shooting in modern American history in Orlando when 49 people lost their lives. And of course we pray for the victims and for their families and friends and we wonder why, even though there’s probably no way to know why a human being would do something like this to other human beings who are at a concert, having fun and listening to music. Jason Aldean was on stage, Luke Combs who was here with us tonight, he played the show, too. And obviously no one could have ever expected that something terrible would happen, but it did.

“…we have children without parents and fathers without sons…”

A very sick person smuggled 17 guns into his hotel room and smashed out the windows, started firing indiscriminately from the 32nd floor into a crowd of 22,000 people across the street. And as a result of that, this morning, we have children without parents and fathers without sons, mothers without daughters. We lost two police officers. We lost a nurse from Tennessee. A special ed teacher from a school here in Manhattan Beach.

It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up or give up, it’s too much to even process. All these devastated families who now have to live with this pain forever, because one person with a violent and insane voice in his head managed to stockpile a collection of high-powered rifles and use them to shoot people. The guy was an accountant, he has no criminal record. His brother who lives in Florida seems totally shocked, genuinely dumbfounded, he said he saw no sign of any of this. The owner of the store that sold the killer some of the rifles said he passed the government-mandated background check when he was in the store. He wasn’t on any watchlist. He didn’t seem to have been a religious or political extremist. Came out of nowhere.

“Of course there’s something we can do about it”

Because of that, because there weren’t any of the usual signs, I’ve been reading comments from people who say, “This is terrible, but there’s nothing we can do about it.” But I disagree with that intensely. Because of course there’s something we can do about it, there’s a lot of things we can do about it. But we don’t, which is interesting. Because when someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, then there’s nothing we can about that.

The Second Amendment, I guess, our forefathers wanted us to have AK-47s is the argument, I assume. Orlando, Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino, every one of these shootings the murderer used automatic or semi-automatic rifles, which are not weapons you use for self-defense. They’re weapons designed to kill large numbers of people in the shortest possible amount of time. And this guy, reportedly he had 10 of them in his room, apparently legally. At least some of them were there legally. Why is that allowed? I don’t know why our so-called leaders continue to allow this to happen. Or better question, why do we continue to let them allow it to happen?

“…we’ll move on to the next thing, and then it will happen again and again”
Five people got shot in Lawrence, Kansas, last night, three of them died, it didn’t even make a blip because it’s just a regular part of our lives now. And you know what will happen, we’ll pray for Las Vegas. Some of us will get motivated, some of us won’t get motivated. The bills will be written, they’ll be watered down, they’ll fail. The NRA will smother it all with money and over time we’ll get distracted. We’ll move on to the next thing and then it will happen again and again.

Last night, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said this is not the time… actually it was today, this morning, she said it was not the time for political debate. I don’t know, we have 59 innocent people dead, it wasn’t their time either. So I think now is the time for political debate.

“lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because NRA has their balls in a money clip”

President Trump is visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday, he spoke this morning, said he’s praying for those who lost their lives. In February, he also signed a bill that made it easier for people with severe mental illness to buy guns legally. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a number of other lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip, also sent their thoughts and their prayers today, which is good. They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country, because it’s so crazy.

“These are the faces of the senators…voted against a bill that would have closed those loopholes”

Right now, there are loopholes in the law that let people avoid background checks if they buy a gun privately from another party, if they buy a gun online or at a gun show. So I want to show you something. These are the faces of the senators who, days after the shooting in Orlando, voted against a bill that would have closed those loopholes. These are the 56 senators who didn’t want to do anything about that.

“So with all due respect, your (Senators) thoughts and prayers are insufficient”

Ninety percent of Democrats, I’m not talking about politicians here, I’m talking about people and 77 percent of Republicans support background checks at gun shows. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats and Republicans are in favor of restricting gun ownership for the mentally ill. But not this gang! They voted against both of those things. So with all due respect, your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.

By the way, the House of Representatives is voting on a piece of legislation this week. It’s a bill to legalize the sale of silencers for guns, this is what they’re working on. We have a major problem with gun violence in this country, and I guess they don’t care. If I’m wrong on that, fine, do something about it. Cause I’m sick of it.

“It feels like someone has opened a window into hell”

I want this to be a comedy show. I hate talking about stuff like this. I just want to laugh about things every night, but that it seems to becoming increasingly difficult lately. It feels like someone has opened a window into hell. And what I’m talking about tonight isn’t about gun control, it’s about common sense. Common sense says no good will ever come from allowing a person to have weapons that can take down 527 Americans at a concert. Common sense says you don’t let those who suffer from mental illness buy guns.

In June of last year, the NRA fought to make sure people on the no-fly list can buy guns. They aren’t allowed to get on a plane; they’re allowed to own a very dangerous gun. Who thinks that makes sense?! Them, I guess, the people who voted with the NRA. Maybe I’m nuts, but I would like to think we could put politics aside and agree that no American citizen needs an M-16 or 10 of them. And maybe that way, we don’t do this again. And that seems very reasonable to me.

You know, in 1980 we had a big fire at the MGM in Las Vegas. It was horrible, 85 people died, you could see the fire. I was 13 years old, I’ll never forget it. A man jumped out the window, it was a terrible thing to see. Then a few months later there was another fire at the Hilton and five people died. So you know what they did? They changed the laws. They made major changes to the fire safety codes and it hasn’t happened again. Why would we approach this differently? It’s a public safety issue, and something needs to be done already.

“Tell your congress people to do something”

So tell your congress people to do something. It’s not enough to send your love and prayers. We do, we send our love and support and whatever else is needed to Las Vegas, and to the families from all over the country and Canada who had the worst night of their lives last night.

Vegas is a funny town, it’s easy to forget people live there, but they do. Lots of good people. These people showed in droves today to donate blood, because it’s the only thing they could do, and so they did it. But there is more that we could do, and we need to do it.

“Don’t forget them”

Thank God for the police in Las Vegas, who risked their lives trying to locate the man with the gun. Thank God for the doctors and nurses and firefighters and paramedics who rose to the occasion, as they always seem to do when we need them to. And the concertgoers themselves who helped each other, who threw their bodies on top of each other, who drove their private cars full of people who were bleeding to the hospital. Don’t forget them.

“…don’t forget what’s going on in Puerto Rico…”

And don’t forget what’s going on in Puerto Rico, either. Just because they’re not the lead story today, they still need help. And if you want to help either one a good way to do that is to give to the American Red Cross … and we send all our love to our family and friends in Las Vegas and everyone affected by this terrible event.

I’m sorry for getting emotional, I’m not great with this kind of thing. But I just think it’s important, you know?

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Google tools provide updated information to locate earthquake victims and property destroyed in Mexico

 

Google has created a map that shows where the destroyed and heavily damaged buildings are located in Mexico City after Tuesday’s earthquake. It is constantly being updated.

 

Google has also created a locator site. Visitors can share who they are looking for or information they may have about a victim or survivor of the earthquake.

Google Locator

Google-localizer

 

 

How journalists should cover Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15- Oct. 15

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Courtesy: Mansfield ISD

Hispanic Heritage Month starts today, September 15 and runs until October 15. It celebrates Hispanics in the U.S. It recognizes not only the Latino culture and history but also our contributions.

Background

Congress started Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and it was expanded to a month in 1988. The celebration coincides with the national independence days of several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate on September 15. Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept. 16 and Belize on Sept. 21.

Topics to cover on Hispanic Heritage Month

OK for the record, Hispanic Heritage Month IS NOT about margaritas and tacos. Don’t be cliché.

Hispanic Heritage Month is about shining a light on good people and projects that profile the Latino community. Do more than one story. Produce a series of profiles or stories that run every other day or week. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hispanic entrepreneurs
  • Studies being done on the Latino c ommunity by a local university or hospital.
  • Hispanic philanthropists
  • Latino community projects that are aimed helping children, immigrants and the community as a whole.
  • The rise of bilingual schools and immersion schools. Who is learning Spanish as adults and children and why?
  • The story behind the leader: profile Latino community, church and political leaders. What in their background made them the person they are today?
  • Latino artists
  • Hispanic educators
  • The economy and Hispanic spending power
  • Political power and the Latino vote

Turn to resources to give you ideas

If the suggestions I have given you still don’t spark an idea for a few stories for Hispanic Heritage Month, here are some resources that can help:

Huffington Post Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month – Library of resources and topics

Facts about U.S. Latinos about Hispanic Heritage Month

Fun facts about Hispanic Heritage Month

Remember as Latinos we want to see our stories all year long. Recognize this important month but don’t stop telling our stories when Hispanic Heritage Month is over.

Apply today for Journalism fellowships in Science, Travel, Environment, and Genetics

Here are three fellowships that can help you pursue a project that you feel needs to be published. The University of Virginia is offering a$7,500 fellowship for stories that look into genetics and behavior.

Travel to three different countries and write global issues. The Fulbright-National Geographic fellowship could be your ticket to the world.

If your goal is to research a science or environmental story, the Alice Patterson Fellowship may have the funds you need to get that project done.

GENETIC AND BEHAVIOR JOURNALISM FELLOWSHIPS
Deadline: Sept. 15, 2017

The Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia is offering five $7,500 Genetics and Behavior Journalism Fellowships for early and mid-career journalists. The fellowship supports ambitious, long-form stories on the broad theme of genetics and behavior. The fellowship was established by Eric Turkheimer, Hugh Scott Hamilton Professor, Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia, and Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Beak of the Finch and Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. For more application and more information: Fellowship

THE FULBRIGHT-NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STORYTELLING FELLOWSHIP 
Deadline: October 6, 2017

The Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship, a part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to take part in an academic year of overseas travel and storytelling in one, two, or three countries on a globally significant theme. This Fellowship is possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society. Storytellers publish stories on the Fulbright-National Geographic Stories blog.

Application at Fulbright-National Geographic

THE ALICIA PATTERSON FELLOWSHIP
Deadline: October 1, 2017
Area of expertise: Fellow specializing in either science or environmental journalism

The Alicia Patterson Foundation will give support for journalists engaged in rigorous, probing, spirited, independent and skeptical work that will benefit the public. The foundation will support journalism and will foster a community of journalists engaged in truthfully informing the public.
Visit AliciaPatterson.org for more information.

Follow this to link to application

Good luck!

Good tips on what you can take away from the James Comey hearing

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Screenshot: C-SPAN3

My father taught me at an early age to write down everything: the good, bad and ugly. As I watched James Comey testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I realized the former FBI director was teaching us the importance of documentation on the job. Good notes can never hurt. These are tips I share with everyone I mentor:

  • Keep notes when a manager pulls you in the office for “a talk”. Take notes during the meeting or immediately afterwards. Write down what you talked about, who was present, date and time.
  • Good documentation should include a follow-up email to the manager “Review what we talked about today.” Always follow up with an email.
  • Keep detailed notes on any observation you make at work especially if does not seem right or a coworker is the target: Date, time, witnesses etc.
  • Documentation will come in handy for your annual evaluation. Some managers tend to forget the good but over emphasize the bad.

The rest of the tips at LinkedIn: Take Away 

President Trump will visit Western Wall in Jerusalem, but Prime Minister Netanyahu can’t come along

 

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The Western Wall: Photo by Rebecca Aguilar

When you visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you can see up close why it is considered the holiest place for prayer by the Jewish people. I was there last week during a journalism fellowship with Fuenta Latina, a nonprofit that educates reporters about Israel today.

Every year, millions of Jews from all over the world visit the wall to pray. Tourists who are non-Jews also visit the wall to pay their respects. Men and women pray in separate sections. 

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Men and women pray separately at the Western Wall/Photo by Rebecca Aguilar

Next week when President Donald Trump goes to Israel he will make a stop at the Western Wall. He will be the first U.S. sitting President to do so. Other presidents have visited the sacred wall but as private citizens.

People in Jerusalem I talked to are curious to learn more about the billionaire turn reality star turn U.S. President.  From hotel clerks to taxi drivers they told me they look forward to Trump’s visit to Israel. but wonder if he will create more chaos than peace. 

Trump is already getting bad press in Israel because it appears he has snubbed Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli TV Channel 2 is reporting that Trump’s delegation has not only turned down Netanyahu’s request to go with Trump to the wall but also someone from the delegation insulted Israeli officials claiming the wall was not Israeli Territory.

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Each year a millions of Jews visit the Western Wall/ photo by Rebecca Aguilar

Tuesday National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster at a White House briefing confirmed “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall.” McMaster would not confirm or deny whether Trump believed the Western Wall was not Israeli territory when asked by reporters.  

The wall is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Israelis seized the Western Wall in the Old City from the Jordanians, along with East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and it is not officially recognized internationally as Israeli territory.

Rebecca Aguilar is an award-winning freelance reporter with 35 years experience. She was part of the May 2017 Fuenta Latina Fellowship to Israel.

 

 

 

 

USA Today takes down tweet comparing United Passenger to Rosa Parks after backlash

The USA Today tweet got my attention. It read “Is United Airlines passenger Dr. Dao an “Asian version of Rosa Parks?”

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As a reporter, I knew they were quoting someone who made that statement.  My relatives who are not journalists thought USA Today was making the comparison between Dr. Dao and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

It appears they were not the only ones, because USA Today immediately faced backlash on Twitter.  One tweet read “Point out the lady or gentleman who gave the thumbs up on this article.” Another tweet posted “Congratulations, this by far, the most ignorant headline of the week.”

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USA TODAY HEADLINE TOLD THE STORY, TWEET WAS UNCLEAR

The USA TODAY headline on its website read “United passenger’s lawyer says he’s gotten emails comparing client to Rosa Parks.”  Now that should have been the tweet. 

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USA Today chose not to use the same headline that was on their website, a decision that does not make sense. It could have been shortened, made the story crystal clear and avoided criticism.

AVOID WHAT MAY APPEAR TO BE CLICK-BAIT TWEETS

Today we want everyone to click into our stories because competition is tough. And I know that writing interesting and sometimes bizarre headlines can attract readers.

Let us not forget that many people make up their minds and quickly over one tweet without ever clicking into the story.  That’s why it is important to be clear and informative in 140 characters.

A reader will give you one chance and you can blow it in one tweet.

USA Today corrected its mistake. As I was writing this blog, I noticed it took down the original tweet and replaced it with a new tweet that makes more sense ” United passenger’s lawyer says he’s gotten emails comparing his client to Rosa Parks:”

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As I say over and over “Think before you tweet.”