What media consumers reward outlets for are rarely deeply reported stories on matters related to consequential items of public policy. What takes off are emotionally stimulating stories that don’t require of their readers any background knowledge to fully understand them and to opine on them.
Social media’s penchant for quick, emotionally outraged responses merely amplifies what the professional media does every day.
During the past 10 months, our local newspaper features an article, prominently on their web page (labeled “Featured”) , that has a topic and headline designed as click bait. The purpose is to emotionally arouse their readers into reading, commenting and sharing the story. “Featured” stories often receive thousands of comments.
This is the same business model used by fake news web sites that spread propaganda stories on social media.