Sunday, July 3, 2016

Invasion of the Listicklers and Master Baiters

From TIME magazine's web site
Forget about journalists. What web publishers are looking for these days are listicklers and master baiters, our Publishing Words of the Day.

Sure, long-form journalism may be impressive, but for pageviews there's nothing like a clickbait headline, especially if it links to a 20-part slide show.

Say what? From
Master baiters are the evil geniuses who draw you in with those over-hyped headlines. Who wants to read about ISIS when you could be checking out "The Beauty of These Celebrity Daughters Will Drop Your Jaw," "15 Movie Stars' Shocking Plastic Surgery Fails," or "12 Weight-Loss Tips Doctors Don't Want You To Know"?

The clickbait headlines typically link to listicles, mindless lists created by listicklers that are long on images and  short on words. Listiculating is sort of like writing, but without all those annoying verbs and punctuation and grammar and stuff.

My theory is that Listicles was the Greek god of irresponsible journalism, but my web friends insist the word is a mashup of "list" and "article."

Still, you can turn some heads in a staff meeting by pronouncing the word as if it came from ancient Greek -- LIST-uh-KLEEZ. Hell, you can usually get a few smirks even by pronouncing it correctly.

(Some PC types who objected to the masculine sound of "listicles" proposed a gender-neutral alternative. But, somehow, "listnads" never caught on.)

Many otherwise reputable publishers apparently believe their credibility isn't hurt by Chipotling their web pages with listicular cancer.

But consumers are apparently catching on that listicles rarely live up to the hype, take forever to load, and will try to trick them into accidentally clicking on ads. Readers are reportedly becoming less inclined to take the bait, which is leading to lower publisher revenue from listicles.

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