Mar 22, 2016

Why clickbait is killing Fairfax

Fairfax's prestigious brands are its most valuable assets. And right now it is setting those assets on fire.

Jason Murphy — Journalist and economist

Jason Murphy

Journalist and economist

As Fairfax journalists try to avoid swingeing cuts to their newsrooms, there is another insidious enemy lurking to take down good journalism: clickbait.


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20 thoughts on “Why clickbait is killing Fairfax

  1. Andrea

    I don’t know why you say the negative comments about the website are unfair. They seem right to me, andI have read the Sydney Morning Herald for over fifty years. The newspaper is not a patch on its former self, and the website is tabloid rubbish; it makes me feel grubby to read it. Unfortunately the management seem hellbent on prioritizing the website over the paper, and rating journalists by the clicks on their stories, which is a recipe for a race to the bottom.

  2. Mork

    This piece is so true.

    The other self-harming aspect about clickbait headlines is that they are specifically designed to trick readers. Readers notice when they have been decieved. Thus they achieve the very opposite effect of the trust that has traditionally been at the heart of newspaper brand-building.

    And what does it say about how management views its readers?

    I was pretty close to ending my Fairfax subscription anyway – specifically because of clickbait – but the final straw was when I left a polite, but critical comment on a news article with a deeply misleading clickbait headline … and they moderated the comment away.

    Well, screw them too.

  3. Jim O'Pines

    Well said. Fairfax’s strategy is suicidally ill-advised. They have, or had, a respected brand which pre-dated the digital age and which might still serve as a beacon on the oceanic trash-gyre that is the internet. Instead they’re choosing clickbait route. It’s tragic because Fairfax is nothing less than essential for the functioning of democracy in this country. So, probably, is Newscorp, though it corrodes my fingertips just to type that.

  4. Rippled Sphincter

    The endless stream of clickbait shite has driven me away from The Age for good. Wankers.

  5. Coaltopia

    Why haven’t they firmed-up their Paywall? Still lots of good content their that people will want. Just make make it super easy to subscribe.

  6. AnisaS

    Too true all of this, and sadly so. Very tired of seeing heading that tell me that I have been slicing avocados incorrectly, or a story this is actually about an incident overseas, or the same story in a couple of different places on the front screen but with different headings, or… The Age used to be a standard but now it is going doing down the draft quickly and at an accelerated rate. If I wanted such rubbish I’d buy New Idea. I for one won’t be renewing my subscription this year.

  7. Alan

    Try news dot com… riddled with attention grabbing headlines that are usually stories from England or the US.

  8. zut alors

    Does Fairfax not understand there will always be consumers prepared to pay for quality?

    I ditched Fairfax when Mike Carlton departed; the few glimpses of their publications since then have failed to lure me back.

    Agree with AnisaS (#6) that it’s pointless to vie for the same market as New Idea – the latter produces rubbish peerlessly.

  9. duncan stephens

    The click-bait headlines are simply insulting. As a minimum Fairfax need to consider providing a better experience for subscribers – by providing links and snippets on the main page that provide as much information as possible so that I can decide which article to read (like old fashioned headlines) rather than treating me as an imbecile and making me click (or not) or 10 links to see if I’m interested in the story.

    You already have my money – don’t treat me like an idiot.

  10. Tim Plater

    I agree, I have come within a whisker of unsubscribing several times. Once I even asked to cancel but some nice subs officer talked me out of it. I subscribe to the New York Times as well and although the exchange rate is killing me the quality and integrity of their digital front page keeps me hooked. I think I will tell the SMH I’ll just go back to buying the paper version.

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