Today in Misreading Media Trends news, lots of people got mad at CNN this morning for this tweet (in case you missed it amidst all the stories about a certain drag-racing Canadian pop star):
14-year-old girl stabbed her little sister 40 times, police say. The reason why will shock you. http://t.co/5ZFqHFrviw
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 23, 2014
This is messed up for several reasons, primarily that it’s a dumb and insensitive way to lure readers into clicking on a story about a horrible tragedy.
Our own Shawn Paul Wood recently shared his own not-so-secret rules for writing great headlines, but CNN seems to have misinterpreted #4 on that list: “Pique curiosity.”
Yes, the open headline demanded a further look into the story and yes, the Internet outrage will fizzle out soon enough as it always does. But there’s a lesson here: Upworthy-style “you know you want to click” tactics aren’t acceptable for a somber story from a legitimate news organization, because in our humble opinions the backlash isn’t worth the short-term traffic bump.
Be honest, though: did you click?