Monday, December 4, 2017

The Truth in Titles

Michaela Leach
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In this technologically driven day and age, an intriguing and appealing title is an author's first, and sometimes only, opportunity to draw in an audience. In articles that are shared online, readers are not given the opportunity to skim an the content as they would be in traditional printed media, but rather decide whether they are interested or not based on the title.

With that in mind, authors are taking a new approach to creating headlines. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the newest trend in headlines is "flat-out trolling readers." Authors have become so focused on increased views, clicks and shares that they create headlines that appeal to readers and lead them to a story that may not even address the claim of the title.

In an article about the power of misleading headlines, the Washington Examiner's Becket Adams explains that headlines "carry a lot of weight." He goes on to discuss that headlines either attract or turn off readers, depending on their views. This is frustrating, Becket says, noting that if people actually went on to read stories like this, they would find that the headline was misleading and that the actual truth within the story is much different.

With advanced technology internet accessibility, practically anyone can be a "journalist" simply for authoring an opinionated article. Authors have learned what type of content has the capability to go viral, and from there, have developed a strategy to receive the views and shares that they desire.

But what kind of content is it exactly that has the capability of blowing up online? Typically, it is the content that is headlined with violent, chaotic and aggressive wording that people are attracted to, according to Ben Goldman, a writer for an online forum called Liberty Writers. Goldman explained to Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post his approach to writing for the Pro-Donald Trump website.

Goldman explained that internet authors have developed a strategy for writing for specific audiences. He explained that the national division that has occurred in light of the last presidential election, it is even simpler to attract the desired audience through aggressively worded rumor headlines that belittle opposing ideals. The articles will sometimes end with encouragement to share the article and comment, further continuing the conversation and expanding the audience outreach.

The problem with this approach to journalism is that some authors have stopped writing for the sake of reporting and rather focus on increasing their shares and views. With stories that are written simply to be clicked, the debate and conversation over fake news that is so prevalent in our lives within this current political climate has only increased. This fake news that is constantly shared on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are only pushing our already divided society even further apart.

The only way to combat the plethora of fake news that comes out each day is with an increased dose of good journalism. Good journalism does exist, but not many readers seek it out, leaving its value clouded. It is a good journalists' duty to report the truth and our duty as members of society to have faith in their reports and trust the mainstream media.

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