Sunday, February 03, 2019

Today in clickbaiting

Doesn't the headline just fill you with the urge to click on through and see what the answer is? That seems to be the mission, at least; the Fox News website has discovered the magic of clickbaitery and is jumping in with enthusiasm.

Not too artfully, though. If you're going to have a cliffhanger in the No. 5 spot on the homepage for Super Bowl Sunday, it probably shouldn't be the same one that was in the No. 5 spot on the homepage last Monday:
 You might even think a lede that refers to the Super Bowl as "next Sunday" was a bit of a giveaway:

Whether the New England Patriots win or lose Super Bowl 53 against the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday, Tom Brady is not ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.

When asked during an interview with ESPN that aired Sunday if there was any chance his ninth Super Bowl would be his NFL swan song, Brady said: "Zero," curling his thumb and fingers into a "0" shape to emphasize the point.


And there's always that pesky label over the story noting that it was posted "6 days ago":
So Fox seems a little slow in getting the hang of the whole clickbaiting thing. Maybe it should put the starters back in or preach the gospel of RTFP more loudly or something.

Being of the generation for which the whole point of the headline is to tell people something they didn't know, I have a deep dislike for clickbaiting in all its forms and guises. I'm not at all sure how widely that feeling is shared. Attitudes toward headlines seem to be shaped by the routines that readers are familiar with. If the flying verb or the noun pile looks weird to you, it's probably because you haven't scarfed down half a dozen before breakfast each day for the past 20 years.

The evidence so far is that the up-and-coming wave of news consumers isn't especially bothered by clickbaiting, though there is (hey, it's clickbaiting) This One Weird Trick: Traditional heds do better on error-heavy stories, but clickbait heds do better on well-edited stories. Clickbaiting also seems to be associated with better memory for story details. You don't even want to hear about what the photos do.**

* I'm trying really hard not to say "grownup" and apparently failing.
** Yes, you do. Film at 11.

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