Ryan McCollough

Want a quick, good laugh?

If you shook your head no, then continue being grumpy.

If you nodded yes, then open up your spam email folder and read the subject lines of those messages. Those subject lines, whether they are peddling medicines that will change your life, unbelievable deals on electronics or even fake women asking for a date, will make even Eeyore the donkey chuckle.

Those subject lines are done to attract your attention and convince you to click on the link, despite the large possibility that a computer virus is anxiously awaiting on the other side of the information superhighway.

However, to this local newspaper guy, it looks as if more and more of the folks that work for the spam email people are now moonlighting as actual journalists.

As I write this column, the Yahoo homepage is pulled up on the right side of my desktop. The headlines under the “news” section bare a striking resemblance to the subject of many spam folders.

I see articles about the Tony Awards, LeBron James, passport law, the G7 Summit and Monica Lewinsky’s dress.As you might can tell, there are a couple that shouldn’t be under the “news” banner.

But in the ever-changing world of newsgathering, it’s the click that matters. Gone are the days when success in the newspaper business was measured by subscription rates, rack sales and reader feedback. It’s now all about clicks, views, likes, shares and whatever the next form of social media deems the proper way to let people know what you read.

Because of this new style of journalism, headline writers are now coining flashy, sexier headlines in hopes of you deciding there is no way you can continue your day without seeing what that certain story has to say.

A few of the headlines on the homepage:

Bikini-clad girl thrown to ground by McKinney officer speaks out

Girl at Texas pool party: It was about race

Modern day Bonnie and Clyde have been found, police say

Could you have lyme disease and not even know it?

Meet the world’s first luxury monster truck

Kudos to whoever wrote those headlines, because this fella clicked on every single one of them.

However, the stories were all less than impressive. Most contained recycled facts with only a new, rewritten lead. I’m all for netting those clicks to pay the bills, but you need to back it up with information the reader needs/wants to know.

There is no reason to thrust something in to the limelight, in order just to make a few bucks, if it provides no newsworthy value to the public.

The newspaper biz is struggling nowadays and every penny is appreciated and needed. However, selling your journalist soul to make a dime on an Internet story makes Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward hang their head in shame.

Money is important, but not at the expense at misleading the readers.

Oh, look, a kid was arrested for wearing a Star Wars costume outside of his school. I got to go. This needs to be read.

Ryan McCollough is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are his own and not the opinion of the paper. He can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at rmccollough@southeastsun.com.

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