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People Love That A News Site Changed Its Ableist Headline After Getting Called Out For It

Everything is not always on fire and terrible.

Posted on April 26, 2018, at 5:44 a.m. ET

On Monday, New Zealand news site Stuff published a story about a 14-year-old with cerebral palsy who entered his first Lego competition.

Red Nicholson, a media studies teacher from Auckland, New Zealand, noticed the headline and tweeted about how upset he was about its wording.

We’re 👏🏼 not 👏🏼 bound 👏🏼 to 👏🏼 our 👏🏼 wheelchairs 🤦🏻‍♂️

Nicholson declined to comment.

Nicholson's tweet went everywhere, with a lot of wheelchair users agreeing that the use of language was not OK.

Michael L. Hermansen

Loads of people applauded him for calling out the site Stuff, and many more said they wished disability representation was better in the media.

Michaela Hollywood

But about a day after Nicholson tweeted, an editor with Stuff noticed.


Jeff Tollan, the homepage editor for Stuff, told BuzzFeed News he spotted Nicholson's tweet and switched the headline immediately.

"It was one of those rare times where you don't need to question whether a change should be made," Tollan said.

He said he was blown away by the response from the public over the decision to change the piece.

"It's been educational seeing how much such a small change (in the grand scheme of my working day) can be so significant to people," he said. "As a journo, it's a good reminder of the impact we have."

People thought their whole back-and-forth was such a good example of Twitter actually working well for once that it went viral again.

Hend Amry told BuzzFeed News that she loved the conversation as there was "zero fat in the exchange" and Tollan's response was "perfect."


"Editor just jumps right in with zero argument, gracefully accepting the criticism," she said.


"It just came together so perfectly, so easily, and pain-free," she said. "Sad truth is that outrage is the default setting for so much content that circulates through Twitter, I wanted to highlight how much better it could all be if we brought our best intentions to the forefront of debate and dialogue."



Red Nicholson's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.