57°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Click-bait Articles Negatively Impact Journalism

Over the past few years, there has been a major decline in paper journalism due to the massive boom in online journalism. Through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, journalistic websites are able to send their articles out to millions of people who would not have read that article otherwise. Because of this, websites use articles called “click-bait” articles to lure people onto their website. This is causing a reduction in the quality of content that is being produced; these websites are more interested in how many people they can get to view their site, rather than giving the reader a quality story.
A click-bait article is an article that has a very enticing title or caption, usually asking a question that gets answered when you click on the article and go to the site. Examples of this would be articles with captions like, “Miley Cyrus is Getting… Horn Implants?!!??,” and “What Happens When Scientists Install A Mirror In The Hoodest Part Of The Jungle?” I’m not even kidding. Those are real article titles. What this does is give the reader instant gratification. The reader gets asked an open-ended question, then clicks the article and figures out the answer, it usually being a YouTube video or a few sentences that answers the question.
The typical cellphone user spends an average of 23 days per year on their cellphone; that’s about 90 minutes per day. At the end of their life they will have spent around four years of their life on the phone. These click-bait articles create a desire for instant gratification; if the average user is spending four years of their life on their phones, then it creates a cycle where the reader always wants more and the click-bait websites keep coming up with more useless articles.
Many mainstream websites use this tactic, one major one being Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed produces articles on many topics ranging from the news to fashion and lifestyle tips. One thing they use to lure people in are very interesting titles that sometimes pose a question or make an interesting statement. Now, a lot of Buzzfeed articles contain quality content, but some only contain a few sentences to answer the question or support the statement they made in the title.
This is causing a major reduction in the quality of online journalism because these click-bait articles are now contending with websites like CNN and Vice. The average social media outlet no longer has to read an entire article to understand something; they just have to click “next page” a couple of times and they get everything they wanted to know. This creates a loss of information where the reader is only getting the bare minimum of a story, where an actual article would delve into the many parts of what makes up the bare minimum. Speaking for myself, I can barely stand waiting more than a minute for a website to load. In today’s society, time is precious; if we can’t get what we want instantly, we don’t want it. Click-bait articles use this to their advantage to give the reader what they want instantly.
Though many quality websites use social media websites as a platform for getting their articles out, click-bait websites are still rampant on them. They create an almost addictive amount of articles that either dumb down information, of give you what you want to hear. If you want to read a quality article, just don’t click the one in bold, capital letters with seven question marks.