Sensationalist headlines are not a new thing as some may believe in this new era of online journalism. Print journalism was and continues to be just as susceptible to the titillating headlines needed to draw in certain readers as today’s online journalism is. However, there is one stark difference in today’s journalism as opposed to back then and that is the internet. In a 2015 BBC article the possible implications of click bait raise questions about the quality of content being produced when the main focus becomes getting clicks or advertisement funding.
With online journalism it is necessary to garner clicks and shares in order for stories to gain traction with the public and circulate to the top of search engines or appear on everyone’s facebook feed. It is becoming more economic now that advertising is added to the equation. The more clicks and shares then the more people end up following one story to an entire publication and the more money that advertisers are willing to pay to be seen that given website. Journalists are now put in a delicate situation financially. As the article highlights, a particular magazine Slant pays their writers 100 dollars per month with an additional 5 dollars for every 500 clicks they amass on their stories. This business model is now becoming less and less uncommon, but there is a fear that it only encourages journalists to “dumb down” their work in order to produce more sensationalist headlines and stories to gain more clicks with the intention of a higher profit. I personally don’t believe the blame can be placed solely on journalists put in this position. Eventually financial burdens take their tole and even the best journalist may have to succumb to this new system. I think this is an unfortunate side effect of this “click and share” world that we are now experiencing. There are some who are embracing this new form of consuming media and are now focusing their publications on producing content that the readers find most relevant such as UK based Trinity Mirror . For them, it’s simply getting on board with the fact that in this new age of technology and media the public are simply consuming content in different ways. While I can agree with that I think that the profit motives are what are primarily driving these decisions and it’s going to make for more trivial stories being produced.
For Peter Preston, former editor of the Guardian and current columnist at the Observer there simply needs to be a balance struck in order to manage the changing needs of the audience at this time. It is easy for important matters in the government or state affairs are put to the side because of the financial concerns of reporters and journalists and their standards begin to fall. Clickbait absolutely has a negative connotation in today’s world. However, there really is nothing wrong with writing snappy headlines to pike a reader’s interest. I think the real issue lies when clickbait goes too far and doesn’t produce the quality content with these attention getting headlines as if they’ve overplayed their hand. Eventually, regardless of how many clicks a sensational headline has conjured up, without the content to back it up in accordance to the headline there is going to be a distrust among the readers and those producing these stories.