WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Emphasizing Clickbait Instead of Journalism

Jul 28, 2015

Columbia Journalism Review posted an article about what it's like for writers who are paid by the click.

And while doing research for a class, TSPR’s Johnny Cather found CNN’s online coverage of a story in the Republic of Georgia engaged in much more clickbait than the coverage of the same story done by a Georgian media outlet.  He also found the Georgian coverage to be more concise and straightforward.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Moreno said he did a similar study a few years ago. He compared overseas coverage of the “Occupy” movement to the coverage done in the US.  Like Cather, he found the overseas coverage generally more straightforward.

He feels there is an increased emphasis in the U.S. on getting more clicks, which is why there is more clickbait.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said clickbait encourages visitors to stay on the website. She said if an organization can prove visitors are staying longer, it can charge more for ads.

Crighton wondered whether American journalism is inferior to what’s done overseas because so many commercial outlets in the U.S. are driven by money rather than journalism.

Panelist Rich Egger questioned whether clickbait is really a new phenomenon.  He said TV stations often promote sensational stories during sweeps periods. The idea is to attract more viewers and charge more for ads -- essentially the same concept as clickbait.

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