Yes, Journalists Write Articles “For Clicks,” So Get Over It

Those who condemn online journalists for "digging for clicks" need a reality check. This is how online journalism works.

It’s all you ever see from the self-righteous, “I know more than you” gamers who bash game journalists every chance they get:

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“Bah, just more click-bait.”

To clarify, there is indeed a difference between articles written purely for attention, and articles written that reflect the hot trending topics of the day. Too many people seem incapable of differentiating between the two, and that’s not only a mistake, but it’s wildly insulting to hard-working journalists who operate exclusively online. This goes beyond video game journalism, of course.

The bottom line is that the Internet culture relies on attention, more so than traditional print ever did. This is not the same world. This is a world that continually blurs the lines between journalistic integrity and the harsh truth of survival.

For the most part, this is a FREE service online journalists provide

There are no subscription fees for your favorite video game websites. There are no fees whatsoever, in fact. While the gaming industry has a score of monetary methods, from microtransactions to downloadable content to Season Passes, online journalists and websites have to rely on advertising. Newspapers and magazines require advertising as well, but at least they’ve got a standing subscription fee that – very often – keeps them afloat.

Having experience in both print and online publishing, I’m well aware of the inherent differences. I know that if you’re The New York Times, you needn’t compromise a thing; you’ll get your traffic because you’re the Times. In our industry, same probably goes for GameSpot and IGN, but that’s about it. Such companies have other ways of generating revenue but for the most part, 99 percent of all video game websites must rely on ads. In turn, they need traffic. Traffic = clicks.

This is the digital world. And by the way, the fee we all have to pay to get online is a general fee, and not related to specific industries or websites. None of that money heading to your Internet provider ever goes to your favorite gaming site, that’s for sure.

Trending topics generate traffic; keying in on what people are talking about is part of the job

Right now, if you check around, it’s clear that The Last Of Us: Remastered and Destiny are the two hottest trending games. Therefore, any good online journalist will generate multiple headlines pertaining to these games. Now, obviously, that still requires work, effort, and occasionally, research. Those who simply pen a SEO-rich headline with nothing but ranting fluff can be accused of creating “click-bait.” But even then, that’s a derogatory label applied by the very people who turn those articles into click-bait.

The readers make it plain on a daily basis: “We want to read about this.” If you do about two minutes of research, you’ll easily discover the popular topics of the day, week and month. It’s not even that much different than traditional print journalism, is it? During the O.J. fiasco, don’t you think every journalist on earth was writing articles based on that case? Would you call the thousands of various articles written about 9/11 in the latter half of 2001 “click-bait?”

Yes, of course it’s to get your attention. This is not a non-profit endeavor. If you’d like journalism to be a non-profit endeavor, than say so. As it stands, it’s a business like anything else, and businesses have to survive somehow. If you’ve got a better way of insuring survival for websites that rely exclusively on traffic so you can get up every morning and read those articles, let me know. Not willing to pay a monthly subscription, now are you?

Don’t want “click-bait?” Click on different articles

The readers dictate. If everyone wasn’t so obsessed with The Last Of Us: Remastered right now, you wouldn’t see dozens upon dozens of headlines every day pertaining to that title. You can’t honestly stand there and blame journalists and websites, whose only source of survival is your clicks, to ignore what’s getting clicks…right? I mean, how illogical is that? Please, just stop acting all high-and-mighty about what is produced in the online journalism world.

And again, if you’ve got a solution, by all means, there are Digital Content Managers all over the world who would love to hear it.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.