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20th century headlines rewritten to get more clicks

10/28/13 , , , , , , , ,

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this xkcd comic satirizes the different ploys social media sites like buzzfeed use to get you to visit their pages (via the atlantic).  similar to tabloids that decorate the grocery checkout line or the teases on your late-night news, too often the stories that follow these headlines fail to meet the expectations relayed in the title and/or are simply a waste of time/attention.

i pulled a couple of the comic’s rewrites to further highlight what makes this approach to media both attractive and repulsive.  think about how the headlines/stories fall in line with ones that you’ve heard, read, seen or maybe even written:

“HOW A SHOCKING NEW THEORY, DISCOVERED BY A DAD, PROVES SCIENTISTS ARE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING!” (1905)

inspired by: albert einstein discovering the theory of relativity

what makes the rewrite attractive:  “shocking new” (something you haven’t seen/heard before); “dad proves scientists are wrong” (posits einstein as a common man outsmarting brainy establishment); “wrong about everything!” (that theory isn’t just “shocking new” but also earth-shattering).

what makes the rewrite repulsive: intentionally underselling einstein as just a dad instead of calling him another scientist; the use of “everything!” deliberately exaggerates what the scientists were wrong about.

“THIS VIDEO OF A TERMINALLY ILL CHILD WATCHING THE CHALLENGER LAUNCH WILL BREAK YOUR HEART” (1986)

inspired by: space shuttle challenger exploding seconds after its launch, killing everyone on board.

what makes the rewrite attractive: “video of terminally ill child” (faulkner once wrote “between grief and nothing i will take grief.” speaks to why some people will knowingly gravitate toward things that will make them feel sad); “will break your heart” (beyond the aforementioned pursuit of grief, it’s also a challenge to see if this will actually affect you as much as the headline suggests).

what makes the rewrite repulsive: using a terminally ill kid watching a tragedy to make the circumstances around said tragedy seem even worse.  as if, the death of seven people isn’t sad enough.

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comments

Very funny and insightful…it really shows us how ‘news’ is brought/fed to us these days

A. van Nerel

10/29/13

exactly. there’s so much going on beyond just reporting relevant info.

note

10/30/13

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