Monday, November 16, 2015

26 Reasons Why You're An Idiot If You Don't Read This Blog

By Alex Lumley (

See what I just did there?

Chances are, you clicked through and are reading this right now because you were upset to some degree that I just declared you'd be an idiot not to, and also because you may have been a little curious as to what those 26 reasons were.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm not going to list 26 reasons why you'd be dumb not to be reading this. In fact, I'm not even going to list a single one.

Instead, I'll be explaining what I just did to you to hook your attention and generate another view for my post.

As Kira Goldenberg explains in her piece "Stop Trolling Your Readers," a disturbing trend is emerging in the world of journalism. Whereas readers used to be enticed to read a story through the omission of crucial information from headlines that would peak their curiosity, now journalists are beginning to hook readers through an entirely different emotion- anger.

Unlike my title, most headlines that invoke anger don't do so by directly attacking the reader- rather, they attempt to enflame by addressing a contemporary political or social issue and taking a stance on it that's opposite to what the general public may feel, and therefore bound to generate controversy.

In light of recent tragic events, consider a headline like this: "Should Refugees From The Middle East Be Permitted Entry Into The United States?" This headline is incredibly politically charged, and thus is likely to stir intense, often negative emotions within readers who'd answer yes, no, or something anywhere in between. Those who'd answer that question with a "yes" might be quick to anger at the thought that someone would even suggest that refugees ought to be disbarred, and those at the other extreme might be angered at the thought of the arguments of those who'd disagree with them.

Another unethical tactic journalists use to garner clicks that Goldenberg doesn't cover in her article is flat-out misrepresentation of an article's content within. While the subject is certainly less controversial than an article about refugees entering the country, this article posted on IGN about an upcoming sequel to the film Prometheus is nonetheless deceptive.

The headline for the article linked to in the paragraph above as it appeared when I saw it on IGN's homepage, roughly 12 hours after it was first posted.

When scrolling through IGN's newsfeed, I came across a link with this headline- "Alien: Covenant Officially Announced, Plot Revealed." But when I clicked through the link and landed at the actual article, the headline was different than what was promised on the main page. It now read "Prometheus Sequel Alien: Paradise Lost May Now Be Titled Alien: Covenant." As you'll see when you read through the article, the plot of the film most certainly is not revealed, and the film's title is not officially confirmed anywhere. But IGN is much less likely to get clicks from a headline that reads "Well, We Have Another Title Rumored For A New Alien Movie, And We May Have A General Idea Of What The Plot Could Be About."

While the journalists at IGN do have the option to update their article to more accurately reflect their headline (and may have already done so by the time you're reading this), when I accessed the article roughly twelve hours after it had been first posted the content within certainly did not match up with the link on the homepage.

Just like this post. Maybe your curiosity has been sated, and hopefully you're a little less mad about me threatening to insult you if you didn't read (sorry about that, by the way). But here we are at the end, and you've yet to learn a single reason why you'd have been dumb not to click on this article.

Unless you think you'd have been dumb not to learn about what journalists shouldn't be doing in the name of more page views. In that case, I guess there's a reason. But I'll leave that up to you to decide.

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