In Which CNN Proves That Clickbait Headlines Don’t Always Work

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By Patrick Coffee Comment

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):

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?