What’s annoying me about the Herald’s click-bait

smhI’m getting increasingly annoyed with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Internet edition.

My regular reading of a morning runs through the Herald, the BBC website and the New York Times. And it’s become increasingly clear to me that there’s a significant difference between them. I can read the headlines and leaders of the latter two and get a fair idea what’s happening in the World; in stark contrast the Herald’s headlines seem designed simply to attract attention and require a click through to the full story.

Let’s try a couple from the Herald today:

  • One Thing Missing from BBC Drama – It’s the popular BBC drama about the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney. But it’s lacking one thing.
  • Bishop Shuts Down Greer After Shocking Question – It was the question on Q&A that prompted a short, horrified gasp and groan from the audience.
  • The Case Holding Up Executions – The outcome of one case has delayed the Australian duo’s execution, but it may soon be resolved.

You see how all of these hint at what’s going on but don’t tell you? The only way to get a fair idea of the story is to click on the link.

In contrast, here’s three from the New York Times:

  • GOP Senators Contact Iran on Talks; White House Angry – A letter signed by 47 Republican senators warns Iran’s leaders that a nuclear agreement now being negotiated by the Obama administration may not last without congressional approval.
  • Attacks on Women at ‘Alarmingly High’ Levels, UN Finds – Despite progress for women on other fronts, violence is a persistent problem, with about 35 percent of women saying they have been attacked, a United Nations report says.
  • Chad and Niger Troops Attack Nigeria’s Boko Haram Extremists – Soldiers from Chad and Niger launched the largest international push to defeat Nigeria’s Islamic extremists whose war has spilled over into neighboring countries, officials and witnesses said Monday. Chad’s president has warned that the leader of Boko Haram must surrender or be killed.

And here’s the BBC:

  • Putin Reveals Secret Crimean Plot – Vladimir Putin admits for the first time that Russia’;s annexation of the Crimea began weeks before its disputed referendum on self-determination.
  • ‘Simpsons’ Co-creator dies at age 59 – Sam Simon, and Emmy-Award winning writer and producer, gave away much of his money to charity after he was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Now I would argue I could read through the front page of the New York Times or the BBC websites and have a fair idea of what was going on in the World. I just can’t do that with the Sydney Morning Herald.

I have problems also with the depth of the Herald’s coverage – which is why I always start my day with the other sites as well. The Herald’s World news is woeful and often just reproduced from other media sources a few days after the news. But I can live with that because the Herald still has a depth of local news that’s hard to find anywhere else. I don’t really have another acceptable source for NSW and Sydney news (oh, and there’s Ross Gittins). So I stick with the Herald for news I can’t find elsewhere. But that doesn’t excuse the editorial decision to put clicks above delivery of the news – especially when I pay for access as a subscriber.

In an increasingly competitive global news environment, the Herald needs to treat everyone, but particularly subscribers, with more respect and actually focus on delivering the news, not clicks, as effectively as possible.

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