The 21st century is the age of citizen journalist vs. mainstream media.
In this brave new world, do all writers have the right to scream headlines of “Fire” and “Elvis Uses A Mac?”
Oh, where art thou, true techno media journalist? Why hast thou forsaken me?
I’m going to hear about this from my Mac360 colleagues, but, here goes: Headlines Rule!! Accurate reporting, cogent journalism, and insightful analysis have become the poor step child of the grabber headline.
Mac360 was born in the early days of online media frenzy we now refer to as citizen journalism. Of the above we are sometimes guilty.
While it may cost millions to launch a magazine, start a newspaper, or grow a network news channel, it takes precious little to start a citizen journalist web site on any topic; a digital soap box for the poor with a statement to make and some muck to rake.
Today’s journalistic talent lies in the grabber headline, and few online publications are immune to the temptation to tempt readers with a scandalous trick tied up in a headline not fully reflective of the content.
Mac360 is as guilty as some. From time to time we use the sacred “question mark” to make a scandalous, titillating statement disguised as a question that may not always accurately reflect the content over which we’ve poured heart and soul.
For example, a recent online headline screamed, “Apple Gets 50% Gross Margin On Each iPhone Sale.”
That’s a statement of fact. However, it’s not a fact. It’s an analysis, supposition.
Another headline taunted “Apple’s Willful Disregard Of Global Handset Market” as if the writer knew Apple’s motives, market strategy, and so on. The writer did not.
How about this one? “The iPhone Is Perfect.” Or, the Mac360 headline, “Did Apple Steal The iPhone Design From LG?” We do our best to support sensationalist journalistic tactics of our era.
In a different era, a headline may have been used to describe briefly the contents of an article. Today, a headline is designed to grab your head, twist it, slap it, potentially insult what’s inside, and demand that you read and keep reading.
As if that’s not bad enough, readers often are enticed to voice an opinion, if anything, simply to correct the wayward headline writer and the underlying slough of near distortions which plagued the content of said article from aforementioned writer.
It’s the 21st century and Headlines Rule!! Such teaser mania isn’t just from those of us new to citizen journalry (I made that up; we have such power!!). Mainstream media has been doing the same for decades with relative impunity.
Witness the teaser headline from your local TV station’s news anchor during ratings week: “Hookers Invade City Hall. Details On At 11:00.” You get the idea.
Grabber headlines and use of the question mark to avoid full attribution are an art form. We’re guilty. I confess our sins. We have met the enemy and he is us.