Saturday, October 9, 2010

Douchebag standards for news headlines

I just saw the same news reported twice in a two-minute period. One came from Slashdot, one came from the BBC:

The Slashdot version: Facebook Billionaire Gives Money To Legalize Marijuana

The BBC version: Facebook founder donates to California marijuana vote

The Slashdot version almost hints as if has to be a bad thing because:

  1. Facebook sucks
  2. All (good) geeks hate Facebook
  3. Billionaires suck
  4. All (poor) geeks hate billionaires
  5. Marijuana is currently illegal, so it must be bad to make it legal

The BBC headline, on the other hand, almost doesn’t tell you anything:

  1. A guy that founded Facebook gave money to a political campaign in California
  2. The campaign is something about Marijuana

The slashdot headline is representative of what we are seeing in US news outlets nowadays. This is why the BBC is a better (better being defined as less liable to make my blood boil) as a source for news headlines than say, CNN or The Drudge Fox Report. Many times the US news either make no damn sense, or they seem to be written in a way as to tell you “this is what you should be expected to think about this subject” instead of either keeping the article neutral, or marking the article as an editorial. If at least I knew it was an editorial it wouldn’t offend me since they are being open about it.

Just for the hell of it I went to take a look at the CNN homepage for the US edition, this is what I saw:


In newspapers we have something called the “top fold.” When you buy a newspaper in the “long” format, it is folded, and whenever a person buys one the instinct is to immediately scan the top part of the folded page. This means that for decades publishers made sure that whatever went on the top half of the first page of the paper would draw the attention of their readers, hoping they would buy their paper over their competitors. Websites are designed along a similar principle: the most important stuff is set so you can see it just by loading the page. Anything that can be seen without scrolling down is treated almost as the top fold of a newspaper.

Explain to me why a “serious” news outlet like CNN has so much mindless bullshit reported on its top half, because I don’t get it:

  1. A bar fight reported in a national news cable channel? Is this a public official?
  2. CNN employees singing karaoke.
  3. Some woman that sucks on bones.



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