Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hook, Line and...

Because I've purchased things from Amazon, they have my e-mail address. And in an attempt to drum up business for The Washington Post, which they now own, they've been sending me a "complimentary daily newsletter." Which is good - I'd hate to think that I might have to pay for unsolicited e-mail marketing.

Today's e-mail was titled "Most Read from The Washington Post: Before Michelle, Barack Obama asked another woman to marry him. Then politics got in the way." A lot of the other headlines were no better.

This one Clinton quote shows why her supporters hate the media

These YouTube parents pulled disturbing 'pranks' on their kids. Now, they've lost custody.
On the one hand, I get it. After all, it's called "clickbait" for a reason. And The Washington Post doesn't strike me as being any less reliant on a constant stream of eyeballs than any other outlet. But on the other hand, I guess I never really figured the Post was in the market for the sort of reader who chases clickbait. Of course, all this means, most likely, is that I don't really understand people's reading habits on the Web. I'm beginning to suspect that clickbaid headlines appeal to a much broader section of the public than I would have guessed prior to Amazon's new project to clutter people's inboxes. And, to a certain degree, I suppose it makes sense. While I tend to shy away from obvious clickbait, I've learned to have a certain suspicion of headlines in general, given that they are rarely written by the authors of the articles they advertise. And, obviously, wonky headlines don't alter the underlying information in the stories themselves.

I've come to associate clickbait headlines with unserious reporting - the fluffy, gossipy end of the human-interest spectrum - the sort of thing that one reads to waste a few minutes, rather than to become informed about the world. And so one thing that interests me about The Washington Post adopting the style is that it's a push back against that. It will be interesting to see if they stick with it - if it works, I presume they will.

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