When I was a young child I have a real vivid memory of my dad showing me the front page of the newspaper and highlighting a fact that the headline of the paper, which contained an article about his company, and the dramatic photo on front page were totally unrelated. Yet, the headline and photo were above the fold, so if you looked at the paper you associated the photo with the headline immediately. A totally intention layout by the newspaper editors to get papers bought by those glancing at them at stores or in vending machines.
The lesson he was trying to share with me was that the news will play its tricks to get you buy the paper, tune in, or (in today’s world) click on their article.
NOTE: I also regularly use this story on my dad because he’s an avid Fox News watcher which I feel masters the art of getting peoples fears spun up into their emotions.
As a person with a vested interest in the news, albeit a niche market, I am totally disgusted when I see a site that pushes the buttons of stereotypes and peoples fears in order to get someone to click a link.
CURRENT CASE IN POINT
A ‘news’ site called ‘the US Patriot’ posted an article about the families of two boys who were shot and killed breaking and entering a elderly ladies home in the Sacramento area suing the elderly lady and a family member of hers (family member was who apparently the one who did the shooting). The local Sacramento Fox affiliate has a full story on shooting, which happened earlier this month.
Here is how the US Patriot folks are getting you & others to click on their link for this article.
1. Attach an image of bunch of young black men to the article for Facebook to pick up on. This will scare the crap out of people and probably piss off some folks who think it is a travesty that black families of thugs are suing an elderly lady. If you had a line up of pretty white boys smiling, this article wouldn’t get nearly the amount of clicks to their ‘news’ site. A sad and tragic truth.
2. When people are on your site, have some other image of a group of black youth that could be construed as a gang in order to get people to click on the article and stay on your site. Your amount of page views will help to boost your advertising revenue. So do whatever you can to get the visitors you have to stay on your site. I don’t care to go surfing the internet for a photo, but I would wager a bet that this photo is actually some stock photo you can buy.
All this, when in fact the boys were caucasian and far some threatening mugshots or gang photo.
I would love it if our culture didn’t respond to stimuli such as this, but even in this article I have a headline that might capture some fear based attention. Not my intention, but I realize it’s possible. Blatant disregard for truth and transparency in reporting about the news is a gross injustice to humanity and sites like the USPatriot should be marked off peoples list of credible sources for anything.
Reminds me of a plea from Jon Stewart on Crossfire, “Please stop”. These sites are bad for America.