Media has always been an essential part of society. It provides people with information about what is happening around the world and allows them to stay up to date with current events. However, the way media is consumed and produced has changed drastically over the years. In recent times, the rise of page view journalism has become a cause for concern. The main goal of page view journalism is to drive traffic to a website and increase ad revenue. This has resulted in most writers focusing on divisive and sensationalized news stories to push through social media channels. As a result, some of the most unintelligent and fringe people end up reading and reacting to it. This is having a detrimental effect on the fabric of society.
The media industry has always been driven by profit, and page view journalism is just another example of this. In today’s world, the internet has become the primary source of news for most people. This has led to a significant change in the way news is produced and distributed. News organizations are now competing for clicks and views, and this has led to a race to the bottom in terms of content quality. Rather than producing quality content, news organizations are now focused on producing content that will get the most clicks. This has led to an increase in sensationalized and divisive news stories that are designed to grab people’s attention.
The problem with page view journalism is that it rewards sensationalism over quality. When news organizations focus on producing content that will get the most clicks, they are incentivized to produce sensationalized stories that are often misleading or outright false. This is because sensationalized stories tend to get more clicks than stories that are well-researched and informative. As a result, news organizations are more likely to publish stories that are designed to get people’s attention rather than stories that provide valuable information.
Another issue with page view journalism is that it encourages the spread of misinformation. When news organizations prioritize clicks over accuracy, they are more likely to publish stories that are misleading or false. This can have a significant impact on society, as people may make decisions based on false information. For example, if a news organization publishes a misleading story about a political candidate, this could sway people’s opinions and ultimately influence the outcome of an election.
Here are a few examples of big companies that engaged in this type of journalism and the terrible outcomes that resulted:
- BuzzFeed and the Trump Dossier: In 2017, BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier about President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. Despite lacking any concrete evidence, BuzzFeed published the document in its entirety, attracting millions of views and sparking a firestorm of controversy. However, the move backfired, with many accusing BuzzFeed of spreading fake news and damaging the credibility of the media industry as a whole.
- CNN and the Covington Catholic Controversy: In 2019, CNN reported on a confrontation between a group of high school students from Covington Catholic High School and Native American activist Nathan Phillips. The initial reporting framed the incident as a case of the students harassing and disrespecting Phillips, sparking outrage and calls for action against the students. However, subsequent video evidence revealed a much more complicated story, with many accusing CNN of rushing to judgment and damaging the reputation of the students involved.
- Fox News and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox News has been accused of downplaying the severity of the crisis and spreading misinformation about the virus. This approach proved disastrous, with many viewers dismissing the danger of the virus and refusing to take necessary precautions, leading to a higher rate of infections and deaths in areas with high Fox News viewership.
These examples illustrate the dangers of page view journalism, which prioritizes generating website traffic and ad revenue over responsible reporting and accurate information. In each case, the company’s pursuit of clicks and views led to damaging outcomes, including a loss of credibility and reputational damage. As such, it is essential for media companies to prioritize responsible reporting and accurate information over generating clicks and views to avoid similar outcomes in the future.
The impact of page view journalism on society is significant. When news organizations prioritize clicks over accuracy, they are contributing to the polarization of society. This is because sensationalized and divisive stories tend to appeal to people’s emotions rather than their rationality. When people are exposed to sensationalized and divisive stories on a regular basis, they are more likely to become polarized and less willing to engage with people who hold different views. This can lead to a breakdown in civil discourse and a lack of empathy for people who are different from ourselves.
Another impact of page view journalism is that it reinforces existing biases. When news organizations produce content that is designed to appeal to a specific audience, they are reinforcing existing biases rather than challenging them. This can lead to a lack of diversity of thought and a lack of understanding of different perspectives. When people are only exposed to content that confirms their existing beliefs, they are less likely to be open to new ideas and less likely to engage with people who hold different views.
In conclusion, page view journalism is a significant problem for our current media system. It incentivizes sensationalism over quality and encourages the spread of misinformation. This is having a detrimental effect on the fabric of society, as it contributes to polarization, reinforces biases, and undermines civil discourse. It is important for news organizations to prioritize accuracy and quality over clicks and views. This will help to ensure that people are exposed to informative and valuable content rather than sensationalized and divisive stories. Only by doing this can we hope to maintain a healthy and functioning democracy.