12 April 2018
When did clicks become more important than the news story itself?
Reading through the headlines today or scrolling through social media, it is hard to see one positive story. Instead articles are sensationalised to the point of completely changing the actual story itself. Where is the line drawn between sensationalised content and fake news?
Surely when we’re in a so-called ‘Post Truth Era’ it is common sense that the traditional media outlets have a responsibility to drive the real news agenda.
Of course, clicks drive traffic, traffic drives revenue and that’s important when you consider the numbers of media outlets shutting up shop. In the summer of 2017, 17 weekly newspapers closed. Between 2005 and 2016, 198 UK local newspapers closed. We’re seeing constant reshuffles across radio stations – BBC Radio One was the latest to announce a change to programming.
Oversensationalising is changing the media
But is over-sensationalism really the way to survive? Surely the media outlets who focus on the story and the truth will soon stand out from the crowd of clickbait drivers.
Ultimately it comes down to emotion. Every story, every conversation, every encounter that we remember is driven by emotion. Clickbait has become, some would say, a lazy way of evoking emotion to encourage clicks but at what cost?
Interestingly, Facebook has announced ‘trust ratings’ for media outlets to stem the flow of fake news, but how do we toe the line when media outlets are pushing the boundaries of truth themselves?
Multiple articles that I clicked on today were barely related to the accompanying sensationalised tweet or headline. It is beyond time for there to be better regulation of online news. Social media platforms are amplifiers by their very nature and it’s too easy for exciting or controversial news to spread whether it’s true or not.
We need a shift in regulation across all media platforms – social media or traditional. What kind of society are we building if every message we hear is either negative, exaggerated or potentially inaccurate?