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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:20 AM ET, 09/25/2013

Tease tease tease

Everybody hates bullies now, and that’s all well and good. But a minor cousin of bullying is teasing, and apparently everybody is okay with that. Teasing, in the context I’m talking about (journalism) is also a close minor cousin of advertising come-ons, and am I going to explain what I mean by “minor” cousin? No. I just like the term. The great thing about blogging without an editor is that you can make up words and phrases and nobody corrects them.

But “teaser” headlines have gotten out of control in various places on the Internut. (No editor!) “Teaser” headlines are an old term of artlessness in journalism and refers to headlines that imply something but tell you nothing. Piquing your curiosity is the idea, and disappointing you is the outcome. I don’t want to get into naming names, but the Huffington Post is a teeming termite tower of teaser headlines. It must be working for them. “New MORE REVEALING Mylie Cyrus video!” That was not an actual HuffPost headline, or actual story, but you get the idea. (Wherein she ‘reveals’ that she collects stamps, and that is why her tongue is always out).

It may be working because somebody decided that a good way to measure a website’s popularity is by measuring mouse-clicks. (Yes, life now includes activity called ‘mouse-clicks). So a headline can’t inform you what the story says or you might not click on it. So tease! Eventually, of course, people get fed up with this, and go elsewhere. Just kidding! Apparently they like it and that’s why it will keep happening until somebody changes that crazy click-count measure. Probably that will happen right after they make a TV simple enough for your mom to use without calling you on the phone for help. “Sorry, mom, can’t help you now, I’m reading HuffPost.” Click.

By  |  07:20 AM ET, 09/25/2013

 
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