A Driving Instructor's Blog

Definition of illiteracyI’ve been noticing this for some time now. Previously reputable news agencies reporting on things solely sourced from Facebook or Twitter.

It might not be what you’d call “reputable” in the usual sense of the word, but it is nevertheless a newspaper and so you’d expect some journalistic skill on display, but the Daily Mirror has reported on a “bizarre” TV interview between Joanna Lumley and The Black Eyed Peas. I saw it as an MSN newsfeed and wondered what might have happened for it to be labelled as such.

Well, the short answer is: absolutely nothing.

Basically, the “bizarreness” is simply that… well, Joanna Lumley interviewed The Black Eyed Peas. That’s it. That’s the entire story. The whole thing can be summed up perfectly in those five words. Joanna Lumley interviewed The Black Eyed Peas.

The Mirror, though, manages to string it out to 200 words and three screenshots from the interview. Two shots show people sitting on a couch, and one is a mistimed capture of the back of two people’s heads. The extra words come from The Mirror’s copy-and-paste-from-Twitter department, where they duplicate five complete Tweets from certified idiots, each saying that the interview was “bizarre”. As far as I can tell, the only reason it is “bizarre” even to these morons is because… well, Joanna Lumley interviewed The Black Eyed Peas.

The BBC does this sort of thing now, too. It isn’t averse to creating entire articles based on Twitter or Facebook posts, and it doesn’t even correct the appalling grammar that is endemic to those things. It even includes them totally un-spellchecked in most “sensible” articles. It must save them a lot of time.

I wouldn’t click on a link to any story about The Black Eyed Peas purely based on their music. It simply isn’t my scene. But the word “bizarre” is clickbait, and clickbaiting is the latest journalistic tool of choice to get people to pages full of adverts. MSN’s newsfeeds do it all the time – take my advice, and never click on any link which says “you’ll never guess what happened next” or has the word “adorable” or “sponsored” in it. Because whatever did happen next will be as interesting as staring at a wall, and I think that “adorable” is the Facebook generation’s preferred way of referring to any juvenile animal with less than six legs doing what juvenile animals with less than six legs naturally do (which frequently equates to doing absolutely nothing). “Sponsored” is a combination of those two things higher up the page designed to get you to the ads quicker.

We’re doomed. DOOMED.

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