13 Fascinating things you probably didn't know about online news
Here's a tale of two headlines, both of which appeared recently in the online version of The Globe and Mail. Headline number one: "With no career prospects and a pile of student debt, I thought prostitution was the easy way out". Headline number two: "The forgotten tax break for the rich that will cost Ottawa billions". Which story generated the most traffic?
It wasn't even close. The story about the woman turning to prostitution was the most-read story of that week. The story about tax breaks for the rich was number 25.
Welcome to the world of online news, where popularity is measured in clicks, and a story about prostitution is considered to be major clickbait. Salacious gossip, celebrity wardrobe malfunctions, quizzes, adorable cat videos - they're all clickbait. And so are lists. The 14 best of this, the 21 most of that - everything can be reduced to a list these days - from the most serious stories, to the most frivolous.
But at what cost? Has packaging become more important than product? Does the pursuit of traffic trump the pursuit of truth? Is this the death of serious journalism or its salvation?
This morning, Ira Basen takes us inside the world of online news. And just so he fits in, he has produced a list. In fact, we're calling this a listumentary. Here's Ira Basen with 13 Fascinating Things You Probably Didn't Know, About Online News.
Oh, and by the way, here are the "13 things" you'll hear about, if you listen to the audio. It'll be worth it. We promise!
Thing One: If You List It, They Will Come
Thing Two: Lists Are Best Consumed with Coffee and Corn Flakes
Thing Three: If They Come, You Will Prosper
Thing Four: A Balanced Digital Diet Contains Both Chocolate and Broccoli
Thing Five: Clever Headlines Appeal to Both Snackers and Lovers
Thing Six: Clickbait Comes in Different Shapes and Cup Sizes
Thing Seven: You Get All the News That's Fit To Print -- and Lots That Isn't
Thing Eight: Believe it or Not, Gawker, The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed Might Actually Be the Salvation of Journalism
Thing NIne: On the Other Hand, Gawker, The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed Might Also Be the Death of Journalism
Thing Ten: They Know Much More About You Than You Think
Thing Eleven: It's Not Really Just About Pageviews Anymore
Thing Twelve: All Metrics can be Dangerous
Thing Thirteen: Keep Calm and Carry On: This is Not the End of Journalism!
This documentary first aired on The Sunday Edition in May, 2014