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.