This article from the PA report is perhaps the best-written explanation (that I've seen) of why sensational headlines, unsupported rumors, and trite distractions are so common (and unfortunately even necessary) to all blogs.

The takeaway (if you don't want to read it):

  • The low CPM for online ads means you need hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views to pay just a few people a modest salary. Widespread use of adblock effectively doubles what you need. Adding development, editorial and support staff makes it larger still.
  • The CPM ad system rewards nearly every kind of bad blog behavior. Misleading/sensational headlines, articles about crazy rumors and half-cocked theories, vapid articles about the 10 hottest chicks in science . . . all bring you closer to being able to pay your staff.
  • This sucks.
  • On the flip side, a little bad behavior now and then can give you the views you need to afford some good stuff, too. His headline "...sexy cosplay galleries lead to better reporting," is apt. You can sometimes only afford to do some good, in-depth research if you pad your site's funding with a few sensational articles and misleading headlines.
  • The best you can do as a reader is reward good behavior as much as you're personally able (by sharing good articles and whitelisting good sites within your adblock.)

Nothing groundbreaking, nothing most of you didn't already know. But there's an eloquence and perspective in his writing. And his observation at the very end:

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"A quick note: Considering research, three drafts, editing, and finding images, it will have taken around six hours and four people to create this story and the images in it. In that time, I could have written around a dozen shorter stories with content taken from other sites. It would have been a better business decision to do so."