Following a recent study conducted by the commercial think tank Clickbait, media companies are weighing the pros and cons of a more hands-on approach regarding the comments sections of their articles.
Fox News analyst Rob Fellman said that their “new approach to informing our audience on recent events is to create an alluring headline that looks like it should link to a news article, and then have an ‘anonymous’ poster in the comment section tell the readers all they really need to know. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, attention spans have been shortened. And frankly, all anyone really wants to hear is what their friends think. So we’re creating ‘friends’ for them to hear from—instead of writing those long, drawn-out articles with details in them that no one cared about anyway.”
CNN contributor Andrea Bar-Av said much of the same. “It’s just that, well, all these articles are written by writers. And like with politicians, writers just aren’t trusted anymore by regular people. So we’ve hidden the writers in the comment sections, where their posts will be considered authentic.”
The Huffington Post has gone so far as completely dismantle their whole website, using fake photos of news headlines on social media platforms to incite people to just scroll down to the Comments section, which is what they were going to do anyway.
“In the desperate search for authenticity, readerships will continue to mistakenly identify fact from fiction,” Clickbait wrote in the conclusion of their study, which was published earlier today. “Partly due to corporate exploitation of new media formats, partly due to reduced attention spans, and partly due to national widespread apathy regarding political media. It might be that in the future even Comments sections will be seen as inauthentic, in which the response from corporate media giants might be to plant the reporters directly within the homes and workplaces of the readers themselves. It’s difficult to say how far corporate monoliths will go to retain their hold over the American opinion. But for now, it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for real news from real people, your best bet is to subscribe to our email-based newsletter, which you can get for only $12.99 a month.”