Category Archives: News

Clickbaits – what you should know about them

 

Growing strong on the online territory, the clickbaits can be described as “black holes of information”. They have been widely criticised for promoting the “yellow journalism” – a form of poorly researched content that sugar coats its crumbling information with dramatic headlines. On Facebook, they seem to thrive and evolve in the fake news that influence opinions, sparks fierce debates or even scandals. But what are they and how do they function? We talked about the clickbait phenomenon with Ms Inés Olivares, soon to graduate the Goldsmiths University and become a psychotherapist.

 

What is a clickbait?

Clickbait is a term that refers to the way certain pieces of web content is stylised with the intention to persuade people to click on them. The audience is lured with sensational headlines, striking pictures, as well as exaggerated, tabloid look-alike stories. It does so with the aim to generate high traffic on the website hosting the content and to encourage people to share it.

How does the clickbait work?

A clickbait is designed to explore the “curiosity gap” of a reader. Firstly, it sparks one’s interest in pursuing the link by using sounding words such as “the best”, “favourite”, “scandalous”, etc. in its headline. Next, it convinces the reader it possesses information unknown for him/her; then it claims it can fulfil one’s endeavours to learn the missing information in a very simple way: by clicking on the link.

“The way a headline is presented – by not including the outcome of the situation or event – appeals to our natural curiosity, provoking a response in our brain once it is opened. Whether the information received is interesting or not, the reward centre of our brain is stimulated after clicking on the link and reading the article,” said Ms Olivares.

Which are the most used words contained in a clickbait’s headline?

According to a Buffer analysis of 3.016 headlines from 24 different top content sites, among the most used words are: “you”, “what”, “how”, “know”, etc.

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List of the most popular words in viral headlines. Photo credit: blog.bufferapp.com

Ms Olivares explains these words are used as “linkers” and they contribute to the emotionally charged meaning of a sentence. Alongside other words, they “describe intense emotions and trigger strong reactions from the readers”. For instance, “What to do to impress your partner” or “How to love yourself, suggest the reader their content is the key to happiness. They also imply they deliver simple and straightforward solutions for the individuals’ daily problems – and so the readers click on them.

“Moreover, there are can link polarised words that represent two opposites poles of the same idea, such as “best” or “worst,” says Ms. Olivares. Such formulation prepares readers for how they will feel at the end of the article.

“The reader already knows if the news is positive or negative, and consequently how are they going to feel about it, or if they even want to connect with that information at all. In that way, the uncertainty is eliminated and the reader has a choice about his or hers emotional reactions,” adds Ms Olivares.

 

Why can’t people resist to the clickbait’s temptation?

Their desire to settle down the feeling of uncertainty is a promoter of their click impulse. According to Ms Olivares, when people are presented with partial information of a topic, it will “make them instantly curious”. “They [people] believe that if they click on the link, the doubt would be solved and the anxiety level for what is uncertain would decrease,” added she.

What is the most common layout used by clickbaits and why?

Usually, a clickbait will be designed as a listicle. The psychologists suggest that the predictability of a list allows people to develop a “schemata” – a mental map that categorises and presents the new information in connecting to the information already known. This cognitive system allows people to understand information faster and easily. The listicles appeal to the audience as it presents information in a clean and structured way.

“There is a psychological tendency to appreciate information presented within a structure, again to satisfy the desire of certainty and order in our life,” argues Ms Olivares

What makes people click on a story shared on social media?

We have asked University of Westminster student what makes them read the stories they read. Watch the video below to find out their answers:

 

How does Facebook intends to get rid of clickbaits?

The University of Westminster talks about Mental Health and Exam Season

In a study done by ChildLine, it was found that 68% of students are anxious about their grades and exams and the effect it has on their future.

The study also said that 65% of children who had to do referrals were suicide related – this only emphasises the stress students face to get the best grades in their class, not taking into consideration their mental health.

Petsa Kaffens, a lecturer and personal tutor at the University, says that “People take on too much. They have lots of hopes and dreams and raise them too high to get work done in time. At least that’s my opinion”

For the first time, in a ChildLine study school and education problems appeared in the top ten concerns with a 200 per cent increase in counselling about exam stress. Counselling services can be found at the University of Westminster, either with personal tutors or the mental health team.

Some students like Lucy Tonge, had this to say about the de-stress week at Westminster and why it shouldn’t only be once a year.

The University of Westminster prides itself in helping the mental health and well-being of students. You can email the University for help at counselling@westminster.ac.uk, or call them at +44 (0)20 7911 5000 ext 68229 if you need professional help.

 

 

Finance in post-Brexit: battle has already started

“We’re seeing a lot of uncertainty ahead of us,” Charles-Edouard Bouée, the chief  executive of Europe’s largest management consultancy Roland Berger said to The Times, “In this case I don’t think we have seen such a disentanglement in the last 50 years anywhere in the world.”

The impact of Brexit on financial services industry in the UK is significant. Many believe as a result, Britain will be cut off from the European market. One of Germany’s top banking regulators warned that London could lose its status as “Gateway to Europe”.

With possible lose of financial passporting rights, which means losing the ability to provide services across the EU from a base in London, banks are already considering their options in the future.

Lloyds Bank reportedly chose Berlin as the location for its European hub after the UK leaves the EU, meanwhile, Barclays also operated to move its EU headquarters to Dublin. In post-Brexit, UK has already suffered from losing job chances in those transnational corporations.

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Canary Wharf, the matrix of London’s global banking center taken by Andrew Testa.

The result of French election seems to make it even harder for Britain to negotiate with EU. Macron’s win tights EU together again and leaves the UK isolationism. The youngest president in French history, who describes Brexit as “a serious mistake”, has been called an EU fanatic on Twitter.

In fact, the former economy minister has already urged overseas banks to quit London for Paris after Brexit for a long time.

Though a new research by Colliers International shows that it will be “too impractical” for companies to leave London at high risk of losing high skilled graduates, uncertainty of economy in this former EU financial center may leave them no choice.

Puppies, Laser Quest and a Heap of Exams- De-stressing in Exam Week

Starting last year, The University of Westminster provided students with the only thing that will calm somebody in the middle of exams, dogs. And lots of them.

 

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The University of Westminster Facebook Page

 

The university has been trying its hardest to ensure their students mental health stays positive during exam season by creating events that students can attend to take their mind off revision, these include: a nap room, a bunny room and a dog room. The sessions were held during the week.

Dan Seamarks, the sabbatical officer for Harrow campus has said “”I think the University has provided a good insight into how to revise and how to stay healthy during the exam period. Today, they’ve released research into this. However, we’re always happy to hear students feedback and ideas to take to the University.”

The students’ Union take student welfare seriously and offer counselling at every campus all year round “”The Students’ Union provides welfare and advice to students daily, as well as through the Exam Period. Officers, Receptionists and the Welfare Team can all point students in the direction of help and support in this tough period. We are steadfast in student welfare being one of our top priorities and our Advice team have been available to support students throughout. We ran a campaign a few weeks ago that was aimed at ensuring students knew about these services in the run up to exams.”

Other universities across the UK have also taken steps to ensure that students are prepared for the exam season. Goldsmith University offered students a free DIY art session in order to help and de-stress students who were sitting exams. Whilst Leicester University also had a puppy room, they also set up a free Laser Quest session. Glasgow University are currently running a two-week programme jam packed with activities such as dodgeball and Bradford University were offering free massages and food for students during their exam week.

The University of Westminster have also released a video on how to cope during the exam period, courtesy of Smoke Media.

Graduate recruitment to fall under Brexit

Several job sectors are expected to be negatively affected by Brexit, with concerns over implications on the graduate labour market. Graduate recruitment has been steadily decreasing since 2016.

The certainty of landing a job is now a serious concern for a growing number of UK and EU nationals just entering the job market.

Data from Prospects reveals that the number of 21-year-olds entering the job market is projected to fall from 845,000 in 2015 to 742,000 in 2023 and is not expected to return to the optimum until 2028.

While Brexit has already affected the number of EU-born applicants, with a seven per cent fall since Brexit, it is also expected to have implications for graduate employment. This year’s university graduates will enter a job market, which is lacking stability as well as available vacancies.

A report by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has revealed that there is a shortage of available candidates to fill available vacancies even before Brexit has hit the economy. Although that is a general concern, certain sectors will feel the shortage more severely and are expected to either tighten budgets or reduce staff.

The current state of the UK job market might have serious consequences for graduate employment and the overall availability of certain sectors.

Job sectors, which are likely to be negatively affected by Brexit in terms of work force, are accountancy, banking and finance, law, retail and media, communications and advertising and PR. Finding a job will arguably be harder for graduates, which will go into employment after graduating.

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Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

The media sector will experience the economic impact of Brexit, whereby less funding will go into the sector. Less money would inevitably lead to less hired employees.

For journalism and other media students, this will mean a shortage of available vacancies and a reluctance to hire fresh talent, which could prove damaging both for the creative input of the industry and the motivation of media graduates to enter into it.

University Job Cuts: Will it ever end?

Yesterday, the  University of Manchester announced their plan to axe 171 staff, mostly academic positions in the faculties of arts, languages, biology, medicine and business. This is one of the many job cuts that had taken place in UK universities since 2016. 

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Image: University of Manchester. Image credits: Joshua Poh @ Flickr

According to the University and College Union (UCU), 35 posts in the school of arts, languages and cultures will be cut from a total of 104 whose jobs are at risk. In the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, 65 academic jobs will be cut from a total of 627 people at risk.

The union claimed that the University of Manchester blamed Brexit for the staff cuts.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, told the Guardian: “We see no economic rationale for jobs cuts on such an enormous scale. The University of Manchester is in a strong financial position and we believe it is using recent government policy changes and Brexit as an excuse to make short-term cuts that will cause long-term damage.”

However, the University of Manchester denies the union’s claims that their job cuts were “due to Brexit”, according to the BBC. 

The university told the BBC: “Brexit and exchange rate fluctuations are features of the external environment in which all British universities and other organisations are operating at this present time.”

In an e-mail statement, the university told WNOL the job losses were necessary for it to be a world-leading institution and they would offer voluntary severance wherever possible.

A university spokesperson said: “The University of Manchester has a bold ambition to be a world leading institution, with a reputation based on academic excellence. In order to meet this ambition, we must improve the quality of our research and student experience in some areas and ensure the financial sustainability of the university. Realising this ambition will require a capacity to invest in our strategic priorities.”

The statement said the cuts are necessary to improve the quality of their research and student experience in some areas, and to ensure their future financial sustainability.

More than 12,000 people work at the university, including almost 7,000 academic and research staff.

This is only one of the many university staff cuts occurring nationwide in the past year.

A spokesperson from UCU’s press office told WNOL in a telephone interview: “Job cuts are a complicated issue, there are a lot of different reasons for it. UCU  believes that universities shouldn’t be making job cuts. Rather, they should be making investments towards their staff to make tertiary education in the UK more competitive. The cornerstone of every university is the staff.”

When asked if Brexit is a factor in university job cuts, she said: ” There is some uncertainty to what Brexit would mean, and it’s too early to jump to any conclusions, but there are concerns that it might have some negative effects.”

“We wouldn’t be predicting any future university job cuts, and we hope that universities recognise that the staff is something to invest in and not something to save costs on.”

Despite that, it seems that job cuts in the tertiary education industry is becoming increasingly common.

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Image: University of Sunderland. Image credits: livesonline.sunderland.ac.uk

Today, lecturers and staff at the University of Sunderland have been warned that compulsory job cuts may be required to deal with falling student numbers.

An e-mail from the chief operating officer, Steve Knight and deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Young that was reported by the Sunderland Echo said that falling student numbers “…will inevitably necessitate some reorganisation and restructuring within the faculties during early 2017/18 to ensure we can successfully deliver against our strategic objectives.”

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Image: Plymouth University. Image credits: www.puic.navitas.com 

Just last month, Plymouth University staff reported fears over job cuts. The university confirmed “informal discussions” were being carried out regarding redundancy plans.

An anonymous staff member told Devon Live that the review is “a major cost cutting exercise” and fears the university is aiming to make budget cuts across the entire institution.

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Image: London Metropolitan Graduate Centre. Image credits: www.libeskind.com

Last year, London Metropolitan University had cut 400 jobs and closed two of their three campuses.

The proposed cuts came right after the 93 job losses announced in early 2016.

Initially established as the University of North London in 1992, it originally attracted 28,000 students. By 2016, the number fell to 12,000. The university planned to reduce this number to another 2,000 by 2017.

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Image: University of Westminster. Image credits: studyabroad.arcadia.edu

Additionally, the University of Westminster plans to make huge job cuts due to a decrease in student enrollment, as reported by WNOL last week.

In April, the university management told the trade unions that there will be large-scale redundancies due to falling numbers of undergraduate enrollment. It is expected that student numbers will drop from 13,000 to 10,000 from now until 2021.

Video: Job cuts at the University of Westminster. Video credits: Amelia Walker-Hall & Olivia Herring from the University of Westminster.

The lack of prospective student applications is a common cause for staff layoffs.

According to a UCAS report illustrating student applications for the March 2017 deadline, English applicants dropped from 428940 in 2016 to 408500 in 2017.

In the whole of UK, there had been an approximate 20000 drop in student applications in just one year, from 519,030 in 2016 to 496,010 in 2017.

Applications from EU students had also dropped from 47870 in 2016 to 45140 in 2017.

The Brexit results may possibly be one of the reasons behind the lack of EU applicants. In February, it was found that the number of EU students applying to UK universities fell by 7% since Brexit.

Written evidence had warned the number of prospective EU students choosing to study in the UK might fall as a result of Brexit – this could cost the UK economy more than £690m per year.

Previously, leading academics have warned MPs that Brexit could be the “biggest disaster” in tertiary education, and that leaving the European Union could damage the reputation of British universities.

Higher tuition fees and the rising cost of living may also deter prospective students. In relation to that, Jeremy Corbyn had announced his plan to abolish tuition fees as part of the Labour Party manifesto.

10 Tips to run a successful student publication

The Student Publication Association hosted its annual Award Ceremony at Leeds University on Saturday 6th of May. It rewarded the most talented editors and reporters from 87 student newspapers across the UK and Ireland.

Epigram, the official student newspaper of the University of Bristol, was the big winner, scooping both Best Publication and Best Reporter.

The celebration of talented journalists in the making makes us wonder what it takes to run a successful student newspaper?

We asked Dan Seamarks, chair of the SPA and former editor of the University of Westminster’s newspaper, QH, to give us the key to a prosperous student paper.

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photo credit: Victoire Bret

1- Keep your eyes to the ground. You need to know everything that is happening around you.

2- Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Student publications are very important as they expose everything that is happening at the university and that can potentially affect the students’ lives.

3- Be diverse in what you do. Cover the news at the university but also sports, cultural events and social aspects of the life on campus. You should also cover interesting subjects that don’t necessarily touch the university: relevant news and important international events.

4- Work hard. Most of the stories won’t magically write themselves. When you have a lead you need to push it to gather the most relevant information and bring your story further.

5- Look at places that are not obvious. Don’t just take what’s in front of you, dig deeper.

6- The leadership needs to adapt the tone and management style to the different situations. Editors have to be strict and organised in order to meet their deadlines and produce the best editions possible. But they also need to be friendly and relax otherwise. Nobody wants an editorial dictatorship.

7- Be confident and get a thick skin. You are not always going to be liked. Your stories will almost always affect someone in a negative way but if it is relevant and in the interest of the readers you need to run the story.

8- Make sure everyone on your team have a stake in the work that you are producing. You shouldn’t dictate what reporters have to write and within the realms of possibility let them work out what they want to write about.

9- Build your network and use it. Networking is really important in journalism, it’ll allow you to access more information but also to bring your stories further.

10- Most importantly have fun! It one of the rare times in your journalism career that you can write what you like and what you want.

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