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How Huffington Post's Clever Traffic-Generation Machine Works 165

Posted by timothy
from the learn-the-truth-about-squandering-asbestos-viagra dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Frédéric Filloux writes that traditional newspapers that move online are losing the war against pure players and aggregators because original stories are getting very little traffic due to the poor marketing tactics of old-fashion publishers. Meanwhile, aggregators like the Huffington Post use clever traffic-generation techniques, so the same journalistic item will generate much more traffic. Here's an example: On July 5th, The Wall Street Journal runs an editorial piece about Mitt Romney's position on Obamacare and the rather dull and generic 'Romney's Tax Confusion' title for this 1000-word article attracted a remarkable 938 comments. But look at what the Huffington Post did: a 500-word treatment, including a 300 words article plus a 200-word excerpt of the WSJ opinion and a link back (completely useless) but, unlike the Journal, the HuffPo ran a much sexier headline: 'Mitt Romney is 'Squandering' Candidacy With Health Care Snafu.' The choice of words for the headline takes in account all Search Engine Optimization prerequisites, using high yield words such as 'Squandering' and 'Snafu,' in conjunction with much sought-after topics such as 'Romney' and 'Health Care.' Altogether, this guarantees a nice blip on Google's radar — and a considerable audience : 7000+ comments."
"Huffington Post has invested a lot in SEO tools and will even A/B test headlines to random groups. 'I was told that every headline is matched in realtime against Google most searched items right before being posted. If the editor's choice scores low in SEO, the system suggests better terms,' writes Filloux, adding that original stories are getting very little traffic due to the poor marketing tactics of old-fashion publishers. 'Who can look to the better future in the digital world? Is it the virtuous author carving language-smart headlines or the aggregator generating eye-gobbling phrases thanks to high tech tools? Your guess. Maybe it's time to wake-up.'"
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How Huffington Post's Clever Traffic-Generation Machine Works

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  • 7000 comments (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    but not a single frosty piss.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:07AM (#40590027) Journal
    First concern is that a comparison of 938 comments at The Wall Street Journal versus 7000 comments at The Huffington Post means nothing to me. Some sites attract more vocal readers and when you cater to one side or the other you're going to get a lot of stupid comments reiterating the same thing. I'd also wager that The Wall Street Journal is trying to target the online demographic of their paper readership that are used to reading the paper the old fashion way: if you wanted to comment, you wrote the paper. Just because internet citizens don't have the patience to read 1,000 words so they don't comment doesn't mean you experienced less traffic. You could just as well argue that the sites had the same exact readership but 7x the amount of "readers" got through the article with enough stamina left to comment at The Huffington Post.

    I agree that The Huffington Post is doing much better search engine optimization. That part is true because when I google for a news item they somehow will beat out even the AFP in my search results. And I do think that gets them more traffic. But I don't think counting the number of comments means anything at all. Even as a liberal, some of their titles disgust me so there's no question they are poking and prodding readers into commenting more.

    Lastly, ever since The Wall Street Journal put up that arcane paywall, I don't think I can even read the comments let alone click a link to go there and see anything. Even if it's an Op-Ed they are practically gutting themselves while aggregators feed off their remains.

    using high yield words such as 'Squandering' and 'Snafu,'

    How exactly are those "high yield words"? They just seem more memorable and inflammatory to me which (surprise surprise) nets them 7 kilocomments.

    • It works like Slashdot then. And noone reads anyone elses comment. As illustrated by my post and the total ignorance of that huge wall of text.
      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "It works like Slashdot then"

        Exactly! A lot of dupes and the comments number raises.

      • by unitron (5733)

        Oh, they read each other's comments. (and then the claws come out)

        They just don't bother to actually read the article.

        Sound familiar?

    • by Troyusrex (2446430) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:26AM (#40590111)
      Moreover WSJ is a pay site, and not a cheap one by any means. In contrast HuffPo is free. I'm surprised that HuffPo only got 7 times as many posts.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Lastly, ever since The Wall Street Journal put up that arcane paywall, I don't think I can even read the comments let alone click a link to go there and see anything. Even if it's an Op-Ed they are practically gutting themselves while aggregators feed off their remains.

        Moreover WSJ is a pay site, and not a cheap one by any means. In contrast HuffPo is free. I'm surprised that HuffPo only got 7 times as many posts.

        Now that you mention it, it was asking a bit much to read the entire GP post.

    • by azalin (67640)
      I agree that comment counting is completely useless as a measurement. I also think that comments on the Huffington Post are somewhat worth less than those in the WSJ, because of the different signal to noise ratio (large group of random visitors vs fewer but informed WSJ readers).
      Sexing up headlines was always a tabloid thing and is somewhat frowned upon in serious papers. I don't think regular readers would appreciate reading 'Mitt Romney is 'Squandering' Candidacy With Health Care Snafu' in the WSJ.
      Sea
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Sexing up headlines was always a tabloid thing and is somewhat frowned upon in serious papers. I don't think regular readers would appreciate reading 'Mitt Romney is 'Squandering' Candidacy With Health Care Snafu' in the WSJ.

        This is the sort of thinking that I think is killing the papers. I agree with you 100% if this were a traditional paper, but in the online realm it costs nothing to publish the same story with multiple headlines targeting different groups. WSJ could have a "Yellow Journalism" headline (or headlines) to grab search engine hits and a respectable headline for their subscribers.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          I hope, and even think likely, that people will wise up to trolling headlines. I know I'm sick of it, and trying not to click on headlines that are a question, or a tease that doesn't indicate what the news actually is. I quit CNN.com over this lately, after reading it since the day it came online.
          • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday July 09, 2012 @09:10AM (#40591295)

            It won't happen - trashy headlines predate the internet and are a time-tested way to get attention.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              Time-tested? The Wall Street Journal (since it's the subject of the article) has been published continuously since 1889 [wikipedia.org]. How many trash tabloids have come and gone in that time?
              • by MightyYar (622222)

                The Post is older. The Daily News isn't that old, but has been published since the 1920s. Those are just the two most (in)famous New York tabloids.

                In Philly, the respectable daily is the Inquirer, which predates the Civil War - but there is a tabloid called the Daily News which dates to the 20s.

            • "Tabloid Journalism" has been around for a long time in print. Even online there have long been sites like The Register that have a 'tongue-in-cheek' (cheeky) take on news, and use sensationalist headlines in the manner of tabloids as part of their playful style.
          • by gtall (79522)

            What's worse with CNN is that something that sounds like a news story on the headline page is actually Zakaria's or some other hack's editorial running off at the mouth again.

        • by rhsanborn (773855)
          Last I heard the WSJ still has great ad rates, because the type of reader who reads the WSJ is worth a lot more money to advertisers than bulk readers. They also are perfectly fine paying for a certain type of coverage. If they stoop to diluting their brand, they end up as just another online paper.
          • by MightyYar (622222)

            I guess that is my point - they need not "dilute their brand". Lure people in with outrageous search results, but then any internal links stay respectable.

      • by Jawnn (445279)
        Oh, yeah. Now there's an assertion crying out for substantiation if ever there was one. So WSJ readers are better informed just because they are WSJ readers, eh?
        Wait for it... [citation needed]
        • by azalin (67640)
          Maybe because they visit a specific website with a clearly defined focus group. The very same holds true for other special interest groups. I would expect a lot more insight in a discussion among readers of "science", "nature", "nejm" or even "tackle & bait" on a topic from their paper, than I would from group of more diverse/random readers. The HuPo targets a very wide audience, whereas the WSJ caters only a very specific focus group of regular readers.
          I'm not saying (as you seem to imply) that wsj re
        • by poity (465672)

          HuffPo is an echo chamber not unlike Hannity forums, or every comment-enabled site linked to by Drudge. There's no way but up for the quality of readership of those sites.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      There is one problem I have with searching for news using Google: knowing what to search for. I have no idea what's happening in the world, other than what I get from news media such as the newspapers, the TV news, the radio news, and the like. This site gives me quite some news about IT related issues. Only when you already know what's going on, you can start searching for more information on those specific topics.

      SEO for news articles is nice, but it is secondary only. For example, as long as no-one knows

      • by mspohr (589790)

        News.google.com

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Not sure what you want to say, but at least you totally confirm my point. News.google.com is not doing any selection; they're just an automated aggregator. Without the underlying news agencies and newspapers they're nothing.

          • by mspohr (589790)

            Sorry for not being more verbose. I was using my tablet with no keyboard so I kept it short.
            I believe that you were expressing frustration that you couldn't find a source of news that had "people walking on the streets, searching for interesting bits and pieces of news, searching for links between them and trying to get the big picture which they then write down in a generally comprehensible manner for the rest of the world."
            There are lots of news sources that do just that... there are many "small" sources

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        I generally learn about significant happenings in the world more accurately before any traditional journalism (the Obamacare Supreme Court Decision is a good example with several big news companies just flat out getting it wrong). It is dying, because you can get information to the otherside of the world in ~200ms and you don't need a news gatekeeper anymore. As poor a job they are doing now pushing partisan issues to try and make more money I say die faster.
  • by sohmc (595388) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:15AM (#40590057) Journal

    Their use of SEO not-withstanding, judging articles by the number of comments generated is kind of like judging the performance of a car engine based on how load the stereo gets.

    Controversial topics will get many more comments than topics about boring stuff. Hell, comments with horrible grammer andd skeling mystakes will get more comments than the actual story.

    And yes, I realize the irony of posting this in the comments section of Slashdot. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by azalin (67640)

      Their use of SEO not-withstanding, judging articles by the number of comments generated is kind of like judging the performance of a car engine based on how load the stereo gets.

      Controversial topics will get many more comments than topics about boring stuff. Hell, comments with horrible grammer andd skeling mystakes will get more comments than the actual story.

      And yes, I realize the irony of posting this in the comments section of Slashdot. ;-)

      ...and the irony of the skelling mistakes in a rant on bad grammar and spelling.

      • by hendridm (302246)

        Their use of SEO not-withstanding, judging articles by the number of comments generated is kind of like judging the performance of a car engine based on how load the stereo gets.

        Controversial topics will get many more comments than topics about boring stuff. Hell, comments with horrible grammer andd skeling mystakes will get more comments than the actual story.

        And yes, I realize the irony of posting this in the comments section of Slashdot. ;-)

        ...and the irony of the skelling mistakes in a rant on bad grammar and spelling.

        I don't think that he is oblivious to the irony given the specific placement of said errors.

        • "based on how [b]load[/b] the stereo gets"

          If you are going to have ironic spelling mistakes in one part of your post, the rest had better be clean. In this case, it was not.
          "loud" is spelled with a "u".

      • by poity (465672)

        I think he's making the point that trolling is a art.

      • Annnnd ... whoosh, unless I miss my guess.

  • On a related note (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:17AM (#40590067)

    I was listening to NPR last night and heard this debate program (originally from April 2012):
     
      When It Comes To Politics, The Internet Is Closing Our Minds [intelligen...aredus.org]

    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:27AM (#40590119) Homepage Journal

      While I agree somewhat with that, what is closing our minds MORE than the Internet is the closing down of true debate. Right now mainstream political debate consists at two "sides" yelling talking points at one another and not acknowledging proven facts as they come to light. You don't make any progress when facts are ignored.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        Part of the debate was whether that divide was caused by things like the internet . In particular it centered around social filtering coloring the results returned by google and hence dishing up information that you agreed with and hiding what you didn't agree with. I didn't hear the whole thing so I need to go back and listen to it from the start.

        • by sjames (1099)

          I don't think we can blame the internet.

          Back in the '80s, I couldn't help watching Reagan press conferences. I sat and listened in complete amazement and wonder at how the press could ask a question, Reagan would talk around the topic for 5 minutes or more re-iterating his talking points and never once answering even a part of the question. Then the reporter, seemingly not noticing that the question was completely avoided, would thank him and sit down.

          Now they all do that all the time. Most of them are not

      • by azalin (67640) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:36AM (#40590193)
        That used to be the job of journalists. To point out errors, or outright lies and demand answers with as little bias as possible.
        • by Jawnn (445279)

          That used to be the job of journalists. To point out errors, or outright lies and demand answers with as little bias as possible.

          So..., what? You're saying that journalists are doing something other than impartially reporting facts these days? I am shocked.

          • Re:On a related note (Score:4, Informative)

            by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday July 09, 2012 @08:59AM (#40591123) Homepage Journal

            No.. I think he is saying that they used to be active B.S. filters. They don't do that now... they basically just are megaphones that quash coverage of anything that isn't part of their corporate agenda. I am not sure whether that quashing is active or just a factor of the fact that most of these journalists are "true believers" when it comes to the corporate-mode of thinking, but I am sure it is happening. What gets emphasized in U.S. media is so much different than what get emphasized in other media around the world (minus maybe the U.K., but they still do a better job than what we do here).

      • by gtall (79522)

        What I'd like to see is an hour of debate. And during that hour, fact checkers are working behind the scenes to corroborate the statements touted as fact by both sides. The next hour they get to defend what they said against the corroborators...who then get to rate the debaters after their responses to each "fact" and its corroboration by holding up scores like they do in the Olympics. At the end of the hour, we get a final score: basically truthful or lying sack of shit.

  • Quality? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:18AM (#40590069)

    But which one had better quality?

    I'll gladly go to a site with 50 comments making a quality discussion and just read without commenting rather than going to a site with 5000 comments, most of which are people that never read the article or are completely offtopic.

    That said, I don't know why the hell I'm on Slashdot.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      I'll gladly go to a site with 50 comments making a quality discussion and just read without commenting rather than going to a site with 5000 comments,

      No kidding. 5000 comments means I'm only going to catch a tiny bit of the conversation. If I read the comments at one of Paul Krugman's blog posts or at National Review Online's The Corner, I'm going to see a greater portion of the conversation. That has a bit more appeal to me on general principles. I'm not sure why.

      • by vlm (69642)

        No kidding. 5000 comments means I'm only going to catch a tiny bit of the conversation.

        That's assuming its a conversation. My local newspaper has a staggering number of comments in the average story... Unfortunately they're basically all paid political astroturfers shouting tired slogans at each other. Even in the stupidest human interest fluff story they somehow, as they're paid on piecework, turn it into political sloganeering.

        I'd much rather read 50 up-rated up-voted posts on /. than 5000 political slogans. Imagine a discussion site where the ''discussion" was my signature line repeated

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          That's assuming its a conversation. My local newspaper has a staggering number of comments in the average story... Unfortunately they're basically all paid political astroturfers shouting tired slogans at each other. Even in the stupidest human interest fluff story they somehow, as they're paid on piecework, turn it into political sloganeering.

          I'd much rather read 50 up-rated up-voted posts on /. than 5000 political slogans. Imagine a discussion site where the ''discussion" was my signature line repeated 25

          • CNN.com is the exact same way. Don't go to their comments if you don't want your IQ to permanently lower.

          • by epyT-R (613989)

            And it's not just the astroturfers. If you go to the comments section of some big metropolitan papers you might come away with the mistaken impression that our country is filled with the worst sort of hateful racists, bigots and sexists.

            it's likely you're exposing your own bias because it is unlikely all the comments are like that.. It is much more likely that your own political views prevent you from tolerating any legitimate reasoning on their parts.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947)

              it's likely you're exposing your own bias because it is unlikely all the comments are like that.. It is much more likely that your own political views prevent you from tolerating any legitimate reasoning on their parts.

              I believe racism and bigotry is never "legitimate reasoning". But I guess YMMV.

              • by epyT-R (613989)

                true, they are ad hominems, but what someone calls 'racism and bigotry' may or may not actually be.. those words are often misused by people who want to silence legitimate critique.

    • CNN gets thousands of posts on every story, but their post boards still manage to be the latrine of the Internet.

      About 60% are "Obama is hitler" or otherwise "LIBURAL OMG!@!!@" posts.

      About 35% are posts about how the BHO posts are idiotic.

      About 2% are on topic.

    • by humanrev (2606607)

      That said, I don't know why the hell I'm on Slashdot.

      You're on Slashdot because the general quality level of comments here are significantly higher than most other sites (particularly the comment sections of mainstream news sites - now those are places you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy). On Slashdot, so long as you browse at say a score 3 and over (maybe even 2) you'll find quite a lot of interesting and insightful comments, whereas the shit tends to get modded into oblivion.

      On t

  • Could have learned a lot from the Huffington Post.

    • by azalin (67640)
      Would you care to elaborate? (And yes, I do know who Ms Riefenstahl was)
      • by vlm (69642)

        Would you care to elaborate? (And yes, I do know who Ms Riefenstahl was)

        Did you see her (most famous) movie? No one can usefully comment in this thread unless they've seen the movie and heard the story of the movie, or at least the way the story is told now a days.

        I almost entirely agree with the OP, I watched triumph of the will for school as part of our holocaust class a decade or two ago, and I think what he's getting at is she was a pioneer/leader in effective utilization of new technology when making movies. Now we don't think of her work as "high tech", because our loca

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Could have learned a lot from the Huffington Post.

      Why? She wasn't political at all - no matter how many people seem to think she was in league with the Nazi's.

      or Do you mean she could have gotten better publicity out that so people knew she had been cleared of being a Nazi (multiple times over), won innumerable libel suits from people claiming she was, and shown how great her artistic ability was?

      I read a great quote this weekend comparing her to Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin [wikipedia.org])

      Work for Hitler and be called a Nazi

      Work for Stalin and be called a genius

      • History has always been written by the winners. Stalin was an ally in WWII, and Battleship Potemkin shot to fame in the west before "Commies" truly became the bad guys.
  • by joenathan7 (2680255) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:20AM (#40590085)
    It's internet trolling, nothing more. Huff uses inflammatory words to work people up so they post, it's not constructive or useful it just further creates an Us vs Them mentality. Not really what reporting needs.
    • by Sez Zero (586611) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:54AM (#40590303) Journal
      I admin I've fallen for this trap a few times-- seen the salacious HuffPo headline in a sidebar somewhere and clicked it. Unfortunately, their traffic-generation machine always makes me feel like I've been tricked and that the headline isn't really representative of the story. Now if I see a sidebar headline links to HuffPo, I just ignore it, knowing that I've saved myself some disappointment.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's nice to see yellow journalism making a comeback. I guess it was too much to hope for for the center left to hold itself to a higher standard...

    • The only standard in corporate journalism of any type (HuffPo included) is number of eyeballs sold to advertisers. People think we still see solid debate from the 4th estate... and they are completely wrong.

  • Just look at those ads on the right of your 'gmail' account. Stuff like, "Other women hate her." and "Language professors hate him." Really? That's marketing prowess? Like I'm gonnuh click on any of that shit. I don't read from the Huff, by the way.
  • I think TFS has his panties in a twist, looking for injustice because of personal bias.

    Unless I'm all wrong, I doubt "squandering" and "snafu" are words that people commonly Google, so how "high yield" they are is rather irrelevant, and I doubt they'll lead to any higher traffic. I'm pretty sure that "quasixenophobia" is even higher yield (tomorrow, this post may be on the first page result for Google searches for it) , but I sincerely doubt that entering it in a headline will lead to more visitors.

    There's

  • by coofercat (719737) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:30AM (#40590155) Homepage Journal

    Oh my, I never realised that the average readership of the average media outlet is drawn in by the headlines. That really *is* news. Wow.

    • by azalin (67640)
      Is that just me, or do others too overlook comment's headlines? Most of the time I only read them when the post in question seems to be referring to something not existing in the parent or the comment's body, or simply by chance. Not sure which one it was in this case though.
  • by Troyusrex (2446430) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:37AM (#40590199)
    But WSJ doesn't get revenue from comments or traffic flow, they get revenue from subscribers. As a publication about the business environment it's important that they keep articles and especially headlines professional sounding lest they damage the brand. HuffPo is a volume site where driving traffic is the main goal. WSJ has a lot fewer hits but makes a LOT more off of each customer. In fact, WSJ is gaining subscribers in a rapidly dying business so their lack of sensationalism may not drives huge traffic to them but is driving the RIGHT traffic to them.
  • Headlines like that, and whole articles too, on Huffington Post and other sites have a kind of breathless, plastic insincerity that I find grating. They are like products designed by committee guided entirely by focus groups. I hope it only works at driving traffic to them now because the web is still new enough to enough of the public that the culture hasn't evolved defenses against this kind of manipulation. I'm imagining some earlier days of advertising where "9 out of 10 doctors agree ... " could mak

  • by no-body (127863) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:50AM (#40590255)
    Can anyone even partially read those 200/500/1500 or whatever comments (4000) on Huffingtonpost?

    Isn't that a deterrent, to stay away from those "posts" - totally useless!

    Furthermore, Huffingtonpost lures with catchy headlines and provides ... not much on content, shallow, often frustrating to read those.

    It may be clever and create traffic - for what - ads? Aren't ads automatically avoided by viewers, those popups glaring at you before you even can look at the page?

    Don't you love all that crap!
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I've never read the Huffington Post. I'm not that interested in US local/national news, so can't comment on that site specifically. But 7000 comments - that's terrible to wade through.

      For all it's shortcomings, I enjoy reading discussions on /. for two basic reasons: 1) threading, 2) moderation.

      I have read discussions on many other sites, but this is the only one that I know that is using moderation and where it really works. I'm regularly reading news online on volkskrant.nl (a major Dutch newspaper), I al

      • by no-body (127863)
        Yupp! Slashdot rocks in comparison to other's. It definitely has some bias, but what hasn't? They're doing a great job for years - kudos to them.

        I follow some other forums but a - moderated and b - interface sucks, no comparison to /.

        Just hope that /. interface is not patented and can be used elsewhere ;-)
    • HuffPo's comment system most closely analogous to a role playing game. You earn status and level up based on feats, crowd interaction and persistence. Like D&D but the dungeon is Washington and the only weapon class is snark.

  • I remember years ago people used to write letters to the newspaper and the TV station some of which were printed or read on air. very few people cared about them.

    these days the same kinds of people leave a comment on the story online. 99% are junk, a tiny few interesting to read. either way at 7000 comments no one is going to read them all. what's the point?

    people pay to read the WSJ, HuffPo is free and ad supported. For all we know the people who read the WSJ don't care about leaving a comment no one will

  • Huffington Post is one of those sites I avoid because they mainly cut/paste the entire article and don't reference the original site. A few times I've followed the link I've had to play google detective for a few minutes to find the original article. Just seems shady and with the news of how little to not they pay the people who write for them I stay away from them.

  • TFS seems to be taking the position that a 300-word article that generates a lot of traffic is better than a 1000-word article that generates less traffic. Arguably true for the publisher, but less so for the reader.

    One thing I've noticed about blogs and Web news in general is the tendency toward short articles that can be written in an hour or less. Such articles are usually unsatisfying and fairly uninformative.

    Making online news sources be more like that won't advance the legitimate role of the media, wh

  • "HuffPo Rapes WSJ using Microsoft Apple RIAA MPAA Warrantless Wiretap Body Scanners" would surely get more responses.
  • This is simple sensationalism. Traffic generation means using bots to read your articles.

  • Or they could just have every sidebar link accompanied by a picture of a mostly naked celebrity.

  • His sight is the king of the sensationalist headlines to generate traffic crowd. With him, the headlines are so skewed that they often have only a passing relation to the gist of the article he links to. Then there are the Murdoch tabloid newspapers with their sensationalist headlines, also using the headlines to sell dead trees.
  • ...did they get because Google sent them that way, and how many were regular HuffPo readers who saw it on the main page?

  • Of course all 6,000 extra comments HuffPro got for their more creatively-titled version were along the lines of "this article's title is misleading..."
  • Traditional newspapers are heading in the Huffpost direction as well.

    This is an industry where we are watching a race to the top, as well as a race to the bottom - with the middle squeezed from both sides.

    Part2 of this week's This American Life [thisamericanlife.org] profiles one company trying to bring the Huffpost model to traditional newspapers.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Monday July 09, 2012 @09:24AM (#40591497)

    What you call "clever traffic generation techniques" are properly called "yellow journalism". These ideas are not new, they've been around for 150 years. Ranting headlines are not a new idea for ancient media like the WSJ or NY Times: they've seen it all before, and have survived for 150 years by rejecting these unethical tactics.

    I'm a liberal democrat, and I agree with some of what the Huffington Post is pushing. But what they do is not journalism.

  • I heard you like aggregators, so I got Slashdot to clip a story that clips a story about aggregators.

  • For the WSJ to get nearly 1k in comments within their on-line site is enormous. The HuffingtonPost probably generates 60 Million visits, per day. That 7k is peanuts for visits and comments.
  • Other than the fact that both organizations host "news content," they aren't comparable. Whether or not you approve of it, the WSJ is a traditional newspaper with "journalism" sections and "opinion" sections with different editors and standards.

    HuffPo may contain journalism but it isn't the point. It's a combination rabble-rouser + echo chamber. You would never see a headline like theirs on a WSJ news article because it's repackaging it as commentary rather than news -- and even if that's a difficult line to keep track of for every news organization, HuffPo doesn't pretend to try. And why should they? Their audience doesn't seem to want them to.

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Monday July 09, 2012 @01:04PM (#40594351)
    For another example of this, check the click baiting headline on the article below this one on /.'s current front page:

    Samsung Blames Galaxy SIII Burn On "External Energy Source"

    Where the actual story is "Samsung not to be blame for every idiot thing someone could do with/to their products" rather than "Samsung devices potentially dangerous, Samsung attempt to pass the buck".

  • by pease1 (134187) <bbunge@ladyandt[ ]p.com ['ram' in gap]> on Monday July 09, 2012 @02:28PM (#40595243)
    Years ago, I wrote newspaper heds for a living. It was fun, challenging work to see what you can cram into a very limited space. And to try to convey the article's meaning. Even more "fun" when you have minutes or just a minute to meet a deadline. The WSJ hed is right out of the paper and no doubt fits a two column layout. Huffo wasn't bound by the old physical layout.
  • It all has to do with side boobs. Everyone likes a good side boob story.
  • Run any article with GOP, Romney, Israel, Jews, Wall St in it it will attract thousands of screeching retards. Because that's what HuffPo is.

  • I started reading HP years ago when it was a strictly politics site. What I loved was the aggregation plus the functional organization of headlines. Now, what I HATE is what HP has become over the past 3-4 years. The stupid, misleading headlines or baiting ("You won't believe what Mitt said") crap. I can't stand it, yet at the same time I find the aggregation of the site to be much better that other news providers. Nevermind that HP turned into a cheerleader site. I've had so many posts scrubbed for n

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