The all-caps "EXCLUSIVE" red slug-line has become the latest branding tool for traditional media to assert its continued value to readers. When you’re trying to persuade your readers to pay for your journalism, it unlocks the value in people’s desire to be in-the-know.

It’s one of the dirty secrets of journalism, encouraging the reader to assume that the story has been dug out of the dark through sheer force of journalistic will. But how exclusive does a story have to be before it’s EXCLUSIVE?