7 Reasons Why You Won’t Click On This Link

In this ever-expanding cyber universe, the amount of “news” sites has increased exponentially, with more and more consistent challengers to the traditional news establishments. However, despite the vast increase in reporting, there seems to be a mass filtration of actual news. As the Internet and social media are so accessible for all in the first world these days, the world of news is changing and the industry of reporting has had to morph its avenue for revenue. Advertising has always been a major source of income for publications to keep themselves afloat, but the manner in which advertisements present themselves has had to adapt also and is now much more prevalent on websites than ever before. Ads generate money via the amount of views, but views are calculated by clicks, not reads, so this has meant a completely new style of writing has been crafted to compete. You may have heard of it, it’s generally referred to as clickbait, which is a style of writing based on pandering to generic aspects of the article that will grab the attention of their readership, but doesn’t necessarily imply any meaningful or newsworthy content. Here are 7 reasons why clickbait has contributed hugely to the mass distrust of media in general and why you considered so strongly on not clicking the link that brought you here.

1: Clickbait tends to be light on actual information. Often times, after clicking on an article that was designed to sound full of extremely significant content, you may come away with very few of your questions answered and may even feel robbed of the time you took to read.

2: This style of writing is insulting to your intelligence and you should feel aggrieved about it. The message these sites are sending to their readership by using this form of writing is that their attention spans aren’t sufficient to comprehend the different points of the piece unless they’re broken down into paragraphs that are too short to make any sort of point in the first place.

3. If you find yourself trusting news outlets less and less, this is part of the reason why. Sensationalism has replaced facts, exaggeration likewise with details. With increased competition between media companies, especially online, each one strives to be the most “out there” with its presentation of news, which can massively mislead the readers.

4. Another aspect of this is the rush to be first with news. Writing the words “breaking news” doesn’t turn a recipe for flapjacks into earth-shattering information. Ostentatious headlines claiming to be the first to announce the start of World War III, when the reality is much more mundane, evoke feelings of doubt and scepticism towards actually accurate stories.

5. An increasing amount of establishments are all too happy to trust and use sources for their news that haven’t been checked properly for their truthfulness. This is once again down to the rush to be first, rather than rush to be factual. Using a random person’s Twitter account as a news source, which is very much a phenomenon these days, is simply immoral, as random people aren’t under any obligation to tell the truth in the ways journalists are professionally obligated to follow codes of conduct.

6. Laws surrounding news journalists don’t imply any awareness of this particular issue. In Ireland, journalists are held heavily accountable when it comes to cases of defamation, but deception and trickery of the readers in order to gain more money from advertising is just as harmful, as it leads to a twisted and toxic relationship between news outlets and readers.

7. Clickbait shapes and influences the minds of the future, which is why it’s such a dangerous tool on a wider societal scale. Social media is undoubtedly the main avenue for young people to follow national and international news. These young people are the world leaders of the future, they’ll be the great intellectual thinkers of the 21st century. Therefore, polluting their newsfeeds with exaggeration, scare-mongering and sometimes simply untrue information is more widely damaging for the future than the perpetrators probably know.

In recent months, there have been headlines mentioning terrorist attacks, widespread rioting and dramatic reports of the imminent apocalypse, while contrasting sites have completely disregarded these claims. How can the public even know who to trust if the most serious of news stories are being affected by the clickbait bug? Accuracy should always come first in news reporting, no exceptions. The world is rapidly changing and our dependence on the internet and electronic communication devices is escalating. It’s now a world in which comment sections of links on social media often contain as much information than the link to the story itself. It’s now a world in which news companies are so busy in front of screens, observing what’s trending in cyberspace, that they’re not even observing the real world, so much so that they invite and, at times, rely on the public to do their job and then feed it back in a sensationalised manner. Naturally, the world of media has to move with the times and as businesses, of course, they have to survive. However, when profit from advertising takes precedence over the duty to provide the public with valuable and informative news, it’s no wonder you probably questioned the point in even clicking or tapping on this article.


Six Nations Reflections: The Review

Approaching the last weekend of the Six Nations, little more than pride is at stake in each of the three games, with England guaranteed mathematically to win the Championship after their win over Scotland last Saturday. With that in mind, the theme of this week’s reflection will be an overall look at the tournament, once again honing in on Joe Schmidt’s Ireland, hence the unusual length of this week’s blog. It was a disappointing showing overall by the men in green, although preventing the English from winning the Grand Slam on St. Patrick’s weekend would improve the mood amongst supporters and would regain many plaudits for the team.

Starting at the foot of the table, Italy will be hoping to escape the dreaded wooden spoon with a win against Scotland. With the injuries still piling up for Scotland, I’d wonder if Conor O’ Shea’s Azzuri can put up a fight, however I fully expect Vern Cotter’s men to do the job, albeit maybe not by a huge margin. Italy can be relatively happy with their performances this season, even if they end on no points, as they have shown that all they’re lacking is fitness and a 10 who can kick proficiently to compete with the other five. For Scotland, it’s been a mixed bag, but in the end, has almost come to where you’d expect. Their penchant for scoring tries has added a new dimension to their game, but when the pressure was on in a tournament-deciding game, they caved badly. Promising signs but promise needs to be built on to achieve success.

The second game of the day features the two most unpredictable teams of the six, France and Wales. Currently sitting in third and fourth respectively, these two could well produce an absolute cracker of a game, as the French tend to play more expansively in Paris and Wales have nothing much to play for. France have been quite an enigma this year, as you know they can turn on the style when they want to, but they don’t seem to have the grit that they used to when it comes to dogged affairs such as the Irish game a few weeks back. They stumbled over the line against Scotland but threw the game away against England, while eventually getting the better of Italy. Before last weekend, most Welsh folk will have written their season off as a complete disaster, but I have a feeling that win will save their year and could well inspire victory in France. Both of these teams perfectly represent the chasing pack behind England. Neither deserve to be higher in the table this year, but I feel both are just some organisation away from challenging for a Grand Slam. The return of Welsh head coach Warren Gatland next year will make things very interesting.

So on to the top two in the table, the arch rivals facing off in Dublin on Saturday evening. While Ireland do have a tendency to rally after losses, the sheer might of England is a terrifying prospect. Schmidt has a genuine debate this week whether to shake up selection quite a bit in order to give some players more experience (Munster’s Darren Sweetnam and Ulster’s Craig Gilroy are being mentioned a substantial amount), or to stick with the old guard to avoid a soul-destroying demolition against the best team in the Northern Hemisphere. I just think there’s too much riding on this for Schmidt, who is generally a conservative coach, to take any huge risks. England won’t fear this Irish team and if they produce the same standard as last Saturday, expect them to emerge from the Aviva with the Grand Slam secured. Ireland have had their strangest few months of international rugby in quite some time. A first ever win against New Zealand in November sparked hopes of a Grand Slam and an all-conquering new group of younger Irish players, however, the deflating loss to Scotland and the abject attack against Wales have put them in an odd place. Personally, I’d take any other team in the world to bounce back against than England at the moment and just two wins from five games won’t be looked back on as a very successful season for the IRFU. As for the English, their new group of players in their early-mid 20’s are a frightening sight for any opposition and they’ll only look to improve from here.

One of the freshest aspects of this year’s Six Nations is the addition of the bonus point. The general consensus is very positive in regards to this supplement and we have had 59 tries scored in the tournament so far, a nine try improvement on this time last year. It’s also given the “chasing pack” as I earlier called them, hope that they can challenge for honours even if they lose a game. It retains some excitement in games that otherwise would be dismissed as dull or predictable. For example, in the game between England and Italy, England were forced to keep playing to get that fourth try and that is the type of thing that keeps the spectators entertained. Overall, this has been a fascinating tournament and while England are ahead of the rest this year, there’s enough quality in Wales, France and Ireland (maybe even Scotland if their team stays fit) to make next year’s just as intriguing.

Wrestling With Wales: Reflections on Round Four of the Six Nations

Given that the fourth round of the Six Nations has taken place a day earlier than all of the other rounds, I decided to postpone this week’s blog until the Saturday night, in order to take in what turned out to be the decisive weekend of the tournament. There was no Six Nations trophy handed out in Twickenham, but the Calcutta Cup was handed over to English captain Dylan Hartley after they secured the Championship title with a 61-21 win against the Scots. It would be petty of me not to congratulate Eddie Jones’ men and credit is due to the men in white. They thoroughly deserve to win this competition and have undoubtedly been the best and most consistent side of the six.

So what went wrong for Ireland? Well, let me start in Cardiff last night, where a war with Wales sealed the fate of Schmidt’s warriors. The first half-hour was quite impressive from the Irish, matching the levels of intensity and physicality posed to them by Wales. An injury to Conor Murray heavily restricted his play and this didn’t help the attacking flow we all expected to see. The tactic heavily employed by Johnny Sexton whereby he kicked out of hand more than I’ve ever seen him do so similarly didn’t help the attack gain any momentum. It’s unclear whether it was the player himself who decided to keep implementing this, but regardless, it dominated our attacking plan and didn’t prove as fruitful as imagined. Another heavily criticised aspect of the Irish play was the determination to try and run through the Welsh defence, which simply wasn’t going to work as soon as Ireland went behind. All of these factors contributed to a disappointing loss, but the simple fact on the night was that Wales wanted it more and most definitely deserved their eventual 22-9 win.

With the men in green defeated in the Principality Stadium, it was left to Scotland to stop the English securing the Championship in a fiery Twickenham. This wasn’t before France demolished Italy in Rome. The Italians were just 16-11 behind at half-time, but a second-half scoreline of 7-24 in favour of France just continued the trend of second-half collapses for Conor O’ Shea’s men. The French will take solace from their victory but bigger questions have to be answered by the French Federation, which is a topic for another day. Today was all about England. Scotland will know they’ve been very unlucky in this year’s competition, given their injury list, which just kept growing this evening. However, it’s not like they helped themselves today, either. With 3 minutes on the clock, the Scots were 7-0 down and were playing with 14 men. Granted, they were restored to 15 when Fraser Brown returned from the sin bin. The damage had been done though, as all the English needed was that bit of confidence. They never looked back and a hat-trick from Jonathan Joseph, quickly becoming a star in this England side, helped them to a 61-21 victory.

While many expected next week’s clash in the Aviva to be a Championship decider, it still is a Grand Slam decider. It’s just that the Grand Slam on offer is for England and we only have pride and a table position to fight for. However, there’s life in this dog yet. If anyone can stop this Grand Slam, it could well be the Irish. We might as well hold out some hope.

Eye on Ireland: Reflections on Round 3 of the Six Nations

Another week, another whirling round of Six Nations and three more fascinating games of rugby. The English were perplexed by Conor O’ Shea’s Italians, after Scotland shocked Wales and Ireland ground out a win against France. With another week’s break, the attention of this week’s blog is drawn to last week’s round of results. The top two in the table remain the same, England out in front with Ireland closely behind. Scotland have taken the initiative and moved into third, while Wales and France will both be disheartened by their respective positions of fourth and fifth. Italy prop up the table on zero points and the outlook isn’t exactly rosy for the men in blue.

The weekend opened in Murrayfield with the Celtic clash of Scotland and Wales. Having backed Wales, I was quite surprised by how they fared. Cotter’s troops made a tremendous comeback and it was a performance that symbolises the new Scots. In previous years, they would have given up at 13-9 down, but they’ve reinvented themselves and their new capacity for scoring tries makes them a genuine threat no matter who they play. While they might struggle against England, they’ll certainly make a game of it. The English themselves found themselves bamboozled by Italy last Sunday, whose defensive tactics took advantage of a rule that not even the English captain knew existed. Eventually they did overpower Italy to get a bonus point win, but it shows they very much lack a plan B, which will give hope to their remaining opponents, Ireland and Scotland.

Speaking of Joe Schmidt’s men, they laboured and laboured and got their rewards against a French side that never entirely looked like winning, but always kept in touch. The main few points to come out of the game were the outstanding showings by the half-back pairing of Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray. There were doubts aplenty going into the game about the fitness of Sexton and how he’d fare in a full-blooded international game, especially given his lack of match practice in recent times. However, whatever doubts about him were quickly washed away in this stream of impressive kicking out of hand, off the tee and all-round game management. He was, of course, helped by the unanimous man of the match exhibition by his half-back partner Murray. He’s solidly continuing to cement himself at the top of the pile in terms of scrum-halves in world rugby. The work of centre pairing Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose can’t be overlooked in dealing with the French onslaught on Sexton. They made the hard yards and drew in players so Sexton would have the space to direct the game as he saw fit. World Player of the Year nominee Jamie Heaslip was also in excellent form, while his back row partners Stander and O’ Brien were key in winning penalties that led to gaining territory and also points. One wonders where the French can go from here other than back to the drawing board. They look aimless and almost as if they need the opposition to hand them the game to win, such as their fixture against the Scots.

Going into the fourth round of games, the Wales game has always been and still remains a must-win for Ireland. They simply must keep the pressure on England and hope that Scotland do them a favour, however unlikely it may be.


Eye on Ireland: Week 3 of the 6 Nations

Heading into the third round of games in this year’s Six Nations, there are three fascinating ties, each for their own reasons. Scotland play Wales in Edinburgh, Ireland host France, while Italy make the trip to Twickenham to face England. The second will most likely be the tie of the round, with particular attention being drawn to the inclusion of Johnny Sexton at 10 for the men in green. While that shall be the focus of most of this blog, there are two other games, so I’ll start with them.

Beginning in Murrayfield with Scotland versus Wales, there’s a clash between two sides who fell just short last time out, against France and England respectively. The Scots will be hit hard with the loss of talismanic captain Greg Laidlaw, who gives them an extra dimension in attack and with the boot, both off the tee and out of hand. Both will be hurting after narrow losses, but I can’t envisage Wales committing as many woeful mistakes as France did two weeks ago. If Vern Cotter’s side have a similarly mistake-ridden game on Saturday, Wales have the firepower to punish them and should do so. In probably the least enticing game of the weekend, England should give Italy a bit of a mauling at home, especially with the momentum they’ve gathered. Expect a bonus point win for Jones’ men.

While it sounds cliché, one of the main factors in deciding the outcome of the match at the Aviva Stadium is what mood the French are in. It seems to be a penchant of France to raise their game against Ireland, while they will be buoyed by their win a fortnight ago against Scotland. Joe Schmidt had a genuine dilemma as to who to play at out-half for this game, as the form of Paddy Jackson has been reeling in the plaudits in recent weeks. He’s given the nod to Sexton, most likely because of his proven big-game experience and because of the leadership and direction he gives the team, in attack and defence. It may be harsh on Jackson, but I think having him on the bench is more of an assuring thought than having a Sexton who isn’t match fit and is unfortunately always a liability for lasting until the final whistle. It’s not an ideal situation to be in, but it’s arguably necessary to have a back-up for Sexton, which means if he’s to be included in the 23-man squad, he has to start.

If both sides replicate their performances from the last round of games, Ireland will walk this, because the only reason the game between France and Scotland was any bit close was because of how fraught with errors it was. In the last few years, it seems to be a feature of France’s tactics against Ireland that they will target Sexton, hit him hard and see how long his body will last against the relentless tackling. This year, they are attempting to get back to the French flair that make neutrals fall in love with them, but it seems they simply don’t have the quality to back that up. If Ireland stick to their game-plan, if the back row can secure enough penalties and unless the French discover the fourth and fifth gears they potentially have in their reserves, it should be another home win for Schmidt’s troops. Regardless, a captivating weekend of international rugby is in store.

Six Nations Reflections: Week Two

There’s a break from the hustle and bustle of barnstorming international rugby this weekend, so the focus of this week’s blog will be reviewing last weekend’s ties more than predictions for next weekend’s fixtures. The second week of the Six Nations has thrown up some extremely entertaining affairs and the results have started to allow the table to take shape. The efficient but not entirely dazzling English have gotten out of jail twice in two games now, the Irish have reinvigorated their campaign against a directionless Italy, while Wales and Scotland will be frustrated with their narrow defeats. The French may have come away from Week 2 with a win, but their unconvincing performances have left their fans feeling like their success won’t be long-lasting.

The first result of the weekend was a thrashing to say the least, with Joe Schmidt’s men taking excellent advantage of a narrow Italian defensive line for the first three tries and a tired defensive line for the other six. The display of Paddy Jackson was one that particularly caught the eye of fans who have grown frustrated at the near-constant absence of Johnny Sexton. The second half hat-trick by Craig Gilroy also gives Schmidt a difficult decision to make in terms of his selection in the back three. Arguably the three most difficult 3 games of the 5 are yet to come for the Irish, so selection against the French will be an indicator more than the first 2 games.

The fixture between England and Wales, while ending in an English victory, has surely given hope to Ireland, Italy and Scotland on where they could catch Jones’ side out. Wales’ determination and vigour at the breakdown made the hugely inexperienced English back row look lacklustre at best. If there’s one line on the field that Ireland have an abundance of experience and a plethora of talent, it’s the back row. One wonders how much damage the likes of Stander, O’ Brien and Heaslip could do on March 18th, if England are as depleted then.

The Sunday section of the second round of action took place in Paris, as France overcame Scotland in one of the most blunder-filled games of rugby I’ve personally ever witnessed. However, what it was missing in sheer quality, the result was never really assured until Camile Lopez popped over his fifth penalty of the game with 4 minutes to go. In terms of entertainment, the contest was fascinating, but it leaves us with few answers about either team. An injury to captain and influential half-back Greg Laidlaw will also cause the Scots a huge amount of difficulty in their next 3 games, because of the obvious improvement he brings (even if he did mess up a 15 yard conversion last Sunday). It stank of a performance by two teams that didn’t want to win this, but perhaps the victory will inspire the French to get their act together and compete at the level we all know they can.

The addition of the bonus point to the tournament has led to a situation wherein, after 2 games, there are 3 points between first-placed England and 5th place Scotland. Each country could make a realistic argument for why they could very much win, with the exception of the poor Italians, who have been found wanting in all categories this season. One would have to give the English the nod at this stage because they still have to play the two bottom placed sides, but as Scotland’s victory over Ireland showed, they’re well capable of pulling off an upset. A fascinating month ahead is in prospect.

Six Nations Reflections: Week One

The Northern Hemisphere’s premium rugby competition began last weekend with a flurry of swashbuckling games that have given this year’s tournament twists that few saw coming. For the first time, there are now bonus points in the 6 Nations, which has added a refreshing aspect to a gruelling series. While it’s far too early to tell what impact that change will have on who wins the competition, many are already pointing at the fact that Wales didn’t pick up one against Italy as a significant factor in how they’ll fare this season. In fact, no team picked up a try-scoring bonus point last weekend. Only France and Ireland managed to take advantage of bonus points, both because they lost by less than 7 points. However, I’d argue that neither team will even see a losing bonus point as a kind of consolation, as both will rue a missed opportunity, for different reasons.

France lost at Twickenham to England, in a game that they should have won, after being completely written off beforehand. Ireland probably deservedly lost to Scotland, but even with the disastrous first half performance, a stormer of a second half display meant that the loss still had a bitter taste in the mouth. This was especially the case given that it was arguably Ireland’s fault that they lost seeing as they were in fact winning until ill-discipline allowed Greg Laidlaw to punish with 2 penalties. In the final game of the weekend, Italy will feel aggrieved that they came away with a 26 point defeat after how well they fought and competed for around 50 minutes against Wales.

Their battered and bruised bodies have the quickest turnaround of the 6 teams, as they take on Ireland in the early game on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how Ireland recover from their defeat in Edinburgh and most would say that Italy are the ideal team to play now, a chance to get 5 more points on the board and restore some momentum. The Italians will be tired and sore from their clash with Wales last Sunday, but if anyone is going to have the inside track on Ireland it’s Italian head coach, Conor O’ Shea. The last thing Ireland need right now is another lethargic first half. They need to kill this game in the first 40 minutes, because a flying first half will demoralise Italy beyond reach. Team selection would most definitely have been a bigger talking point this week if it was Wales, England or France, but still, the likes of Kearney, Heaslip, O’ Brien and Healy need to have big games to shake off the attention they’ve been getting for their performances. All that said, in my opinion only a fool would back the Italians in this one.

As for the other two matches, both will be extremely intriguing affairs. England go to Cardiff in another massive test for Eddie Jones and his side. They disappointed against France, but importantly sneaked out with a win, most fans would probably take a repeat of that this weekend. However, Wales have come into this tournament under the radar and they are extremely difficult to beat in Cardiff. They’ll take heart from their comeback against Italy and I think they could just about swing that one. France against Scotland is also a fascinating prospect, both very much with points to prove and the outcome will very much depend on what kind of team show up for both countries. I expect France to win in Paris. This weekend will be a vital one in the tournament, as the table will start to take shape.