27 July 2015

The shocking truth about misleading headlines

Readers are being misled by news websites using click-bait to drum up web traffic.

In an age when your site's success is commonly measured on page views, websites such as the Mirror, the Express and Mail Online are using sensationalised page headings to draw in curious readers yet failing to deliver on content.

You'll never believe what this woman found in her chicken...”. This is a headline you would expect to see on a Facebook-associated virus, not on the Mirror's Facebook page when talking about a woman with worms in her Sunday roast.

Incredible is subjective and pretty far off the mark when the result is sneezing and moving about.

It really is incredible.
Posted by The Mirror on Monday, July 27, 2015
Formal newspaper headings that summarised a story are a thing of the past and inappropriate use of adjectives now appear to be the future, drawing readers in by abusing the natural curiosity of their readership.

I myself have fallen victim to it. I want to know what's in that chicken, even though I already know that I will believe it. I have an idea from the tone of the headline it's going to be something disgusting. I'm pre-empting before I click that I'll be disappointed by the facts and will leave the page feeling shortchanged.

I feel ashamed when I click on “the shocking truth behind so-and-so's weight loss”, when I already know before I read the four paragraphs of sensationalised garbage that it's down to a sensible diet and regular exercise. I'm neither shocked nor impressed.

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