Riding the South

The blog of Scott and Jenny Morris
April 21, 2016

10 reasons to read

this incredible story

By Scott Morris

 You won’t believe the 10 life-changing facts contained in this story.

My jaw dropped just writing this ridiculously good stuff and you are sure to be amazed, too, if you have the five personality traits necessary to endure to the end.

Some readers may be skeptical of my feeble attempt at clickbait humor. But there is at least one valid point here and you will never feel the same again after reading it. Perhaps I will get to it eventually.

As the refugees of journalism continue their mass exodus into the wasteland of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and (fill in the latest social media craze here), I’m speechless, but will manage to say more anyway.

I worry that respectable news organizations are becoming used car dealerships, pushing clunkers with nothing under the hood.

Consider the following list of headlines from the largest news media outlet in our state. These are real. I promise I didn’t make them up.

  1. What you should know if you have a cat (sponsored content)
  2. Alabama’s most expensive restaurants
  3. 13 childhood toys you will wish you kept
  4. 15 best Alabama suburbs for raising children
  5. 5 interesting items from Gov. Bentley’s tax return
  6. The strangest town names in Alabama
  7. Most popular names for Alabama boys
  8. 25 most dangerous products in America
  9. 13 things shorter than Alabama’s Constitution
  10. Gov. Robert Bentley joins Taylor Swift and the Kardashians on pages of “People”

I am not out to bash the news media, which is just trying to survive in a difficult climate. I admire the initiative it takes to try new ways to attract and keep readers.

Talented journalists are producing this content. I can only imagine what kind of pressure they face to get clicks for the website. The scary part is the media are probably giving readers what they want.

Matt McCrory writes about this trend for redbrick.me:

“Sure, I get it, investigative journalism is hard. Who’s got time to read through the Panama Papers when your post on turning yourself into a Powerpuff Girl is going to get the same amount of hits? ... I mean this is a world in which … the ideal article is presented in a top-10 list and the phrase ‘You won’t believe it!’ is acceptable in a mainstream headline.”

But even with the pressures journalists face, readers should make them work for their hits a little bit. So never fall for that clickbait headline unless a photo of an adorable cat accompanies it. ​