The reference was to how online news had changed journalism, requiring faster and faster deadlines, and click-bait in each story.
So what is click-bait? It is links written into stories to keep the punters on the website. So instead of clicking into a story, reading it and going away, you follow the links and read another story, and then another, and then another. Bait to keep you clicking. And reading their ads.
So the question then is, how has this affected the quality of journalism? Just as some time ago I wrote about how the like button had turned facebook posts and associated blogs into popularity contests, is that what has also happened to newscasts? Is the quality of the news that we are reading dictated by what sensationalist aspects can be linked into the story, and how it can be moulded into funnels to keep people circling and cycling through the news website?
Maybe the effect of sensationalism has already corrupted newscasts for a while now – think the 6pm newsgrabs and two-inch high headlines. Perhaps this is just its latest incarnation.
Is that a problem? Maybe not if you view news as a form of entertainment, or a way to pass time. But if the decision criteria for what gets reported is based on popularism, maybe we aren’t hearing what we need to hear.
What do you think? And what bait keeps you clicking?
UPDATE 5/11/11: another new term – for me at least: Clickjacking! Click here for the link.