Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reporter Luke O'Neil writes that 2013 was journalism's year of bungles: the New Jersey waitress who received a homophobic comment on the receipt from a party she had served; Samsung paying Apple $1 billion in nickels; former NSA chief Michael Hayden's assassination; #CutForBieber; Nelson Mandela's death pic; that eagle snatching a child off the ground on YouTube; Jimmy Kimmel's 'twerk fail' video; and Sarah Palin taking a job with Al-Jazeera America (an obviously satirical story that even suckered in The Washington Post). All these stories had one thing in common: They seemed too tidily packaged, too neat, 'too good to check,' as they used to say, to actually be true. 'Any number of reporters or editors at any of the hundreds of sites that posted these Platonic ideals of shareability could've told you that they smelled, but in the ongoing decimation of the publishing industry, fact-checking has been outsourced to the readers,' writes O'Neil. 'This is not a glitch in the system. It is the system. Readers are gullible, the media is feckless, garbage is circulated around, and everyone goes to bed happy and fed.' O'Neil says that the stories he's written this year that took the least amount of time and effort usually did the most traffic while his more in-depth, reported pieces didn't stand a chance against riffs on things predestined to go viral. That's the secret that Upworthy, BuzzFeed, MailOnline, Viral Nova, and their dozens of knockoffs have figured out: You don't need to write anymore—just write a good headline and point. 'As Big Viral gets bigger, traditional media organizations are scrambling to keep pace,' concludes O'Neil. 'We the media have betrayed your trust, and the general public has taken our self-sanctioned lowering of standards as tacit permission to lower their own.'"
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