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In the days when your brick-and-mortar local paper was one of the public’s only news sources, newspapers were built on subscribers. People had their paper delivered every day, already paid for; there was no question about whether or not they were going to buy the paper, the only question was what parts of the paper were they going to read? But in our current digital news landscape, profitability is entirely click-driven. In the good old days, the art of headline writing was always important, but your paper didn’t live or die by it. Now many online sources feel they have to resort to crafting headlines that trick you into clicking through.


Misleading headlines that promise more than the article can deliver are undoubtedly annoying. But is there truly any harm to it, outside of clicker’s remorse, that feeling that you’ve just spent five minutes that you’ll never get back? Well, studies have shown that the same article with two wildly different headlines can dramatically affect the manner in which the content of the article is perceived by the reader. This is partially because of the short-attention span of online readers who don’t always read articles in full, but also because these outrageous titles that have been crafted simply to attract clicks can color everything a reader sees after.


Employing freelancers is more affordable than having an actual writing staff, and unfortunately we, the public, get what these news sources pay for. Cost-cutting measures have pushed digital news sources towards content that can be produced by pretty much anybody. So we have people who are not qualified to write good content being paid next to nothing to produce pieces that barely qualify as journalism in the first place.


Because clickbait is all about driving traffic to your website, the content of the articles themselves tends to be deliberately-shocking, and to pander to the lowest common denominator. What’s more, it is the antithesis of the hyperlocal news that this reporter was brought up on; the problems of a small town in Ohio don’t amount to a hill of beans in this clickbait world.


Because of everything we’ve already talked about, clickbait’s tendency to be manipulative, fear-mongering, trite and banal, propagating that kind of content damages your news organization’s reputation in the long run. More reputable sites and search engines are already taking steps to weed clickbait out of circulation. So while those short-term gains of a massive influx of online viewers can be attractive, savvy readers are getting wise to the ploy and learning to tune out that kind of content. It is this reporter’s hope that online new sources will soon begin to realize that this kind of “journalism” is harmful to their readers and to their credibility as a news organization, and will cease to engage in it post haste.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 3, 2017

Entering the Digital Age

Ladies and gentlemen, I am ever so proud to welcome you to this, the digital arm of our beloved newspaper, the Kensington Chronicle. And let me start by assuaging the fears that more than a few of you have voiced around town: by no means do we intend for this website to replace the print edition of the Chronicle. Our daily paper is steeped in tradition, and it’s a tradition we fully intend to uphold. Our printing press has been churning out papers for more than 150 years, and we have no intention of stopping it now!

Furthermore, our mission statement, to provide the people of Neverland with authentically local news, has not changed, either.  While we’ll still cover national and international news that is relevant to our micropolitan community, our goal every day remains, first and foremost, to answer the question, “What’s going on in our community right now?” Much has been written about the failure of AOL’s local journalism experiment, Patch, but we firmly believe that it does not presage the demise of hyperlocal, hometown newspapers like the Kensington Chronicle. AOL was trying to be a national brand in a local market, and hyperlocal journalism just doesn’t scale that way. We see an opportunity to develop a digital platform that continues our dedication to enterprise journalism, content that unveils, informs and educates the community. I’m fond of saying that the Kensington Chronicle is a paper that’s of the people and for the people. We believe local news reporting is a responsibility and a privilege, and strive to serve Neverland with credibility, integrity and accountability.

In a landscape where legacy news media is being threatened by Internet news aggregators, low margins on Internet ads and our still less-than-stellar national economy, we at the Chronicle believe that we can develop a sustainable online model without having to hide our content behind a paywall, which will supplement our print edition rather than rendering it obsolete. That said, studies show that nearly half of adult Americans get some local news and information on their cell phones or tablet computers, and the information that they’re seeking out is practical and real time. We’re going to tailor our internet content to those needs, and continue to publish the quality, in-depth print edition that most of you enjoy over breakfast each morning.

So thank you for your continued support as we drag the Kensington Chronicle kicking and screaming into the digital age. It’s going to be quite the adventure.


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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 28, 2014