News Articles Compromise Quality Content in Favor of Clickbait Headlines to Energize Viewership


The world is forever changing and with change comes revolutions to how people experience the world around them. As attention spans get shorter due to the rush of the modern world, people begin to get their news from whatever catches their eyes first, creating a news culture based around being the first to be clicked on; it has become a system of clicks over quality. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the clickbait titles of news articles which continue to manipulate the interests of the masses in order to get a few seconds in the limelight.

Clickbait is the act of using exaggerated or irrelevant information in a title to attract viewers. It can be found in all sorts of media, from news outlets, to media influencers, to marketing campaigns. Clickbaiting a title of a news article is effective in attracting an audience, but at a certain point it becomes a trap rather than a tool to attract viewers.

A recent example of clickbaiting in news can be seen in an article from the outlet Aljazeera, “Thousands of gun rights activists, many armed, rally in Virginia.” This title is deceiving by leaving out one major detail.

The title tricks anyone scrolling around the internet by making this rally seem like a danger to society with thousands of ralliers marching around the streets weapons, but upon reading this article, it can be seen that the rally was completely peaceful; therefore, it is unfair to the public to have their interests manipulated.

Tricks like this often make the article more about drama between the political groups rather than sticking to the facts and reporting the important events around the world in the exact ways that they happen.

Another source of clickbait can be from large companies. One extreme controversy over clickbait was the “We Believe: The Best Man Can Be,” an ad from January of 2019 by the shaving company Gillette on the topic of the Me Too Movement.

This ad reveals another immoral part of clickbaiting: people using a polarizing topic of society to attract viewers when they have no intent of discussing what is related to that topic. In the case of the Gillette ad, it uses the ongoing argument over rape acusations to bring in more viewers than they would normally. As seen in the ad, this type of clickbaiting only degrades the source by making its focus on tricking people rather than getting the main message across.

The common thread between most clickbaits is their use of the most controversial issues of the world to drag in viewers by making the piece of news seem more dramatic than it is in actuality. The article on the gun rally uses the argument over gun rights to keep the argument alive, thus giving them more opportunities to clickbait future articles about the same topic over and over again.

The Gillette ad’s used of the Me Too movement does the same tactic: it manipulates people’s feelings towards the topic just to bring in attention.

Time can only tell how the media will continue to evolve. Its current state is one with many strengths and many weaknesses. The false drama produced by clickbait embodies the corruption in all aspects of life. This corruption always finds its way into prominence, but nothing can ever outshine the truth of pure journalism.

The world loves to feed on controversy and ignore the consequences, such as that of degrading value or false information. However, people will always appreciate when the truth is expressed in the proper way. Whether that be a writer, a movement, an influencer, or whoever it may be, respect comes to those who are strong enough to earn it and those who manipulate the truth will always be seen as the weak as their 15 minutes of fame fades away.

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