July 6, 2008

Global Warming vs The Olsen Twins

Most newspapers now have a feature on their homepage (online version) which keeps a tally of the most-read stories. If you want to know why the world is going to hell, click on any paper around the world at any time, and see what real people are reading when nobody is watching.

It's a scream. 'Horoscopes' are always near the top. Constantly. Advice columns. In the Star today, 'Why your beer costs more than it should' has been riding high for two days. On the British Timesonline, Uma Thurman has been duking it out with soccer scores, though a piece on Iraq did make an appearance. In Los Angeles, where hundreds of fires are burning out of control, a piece on a jewelery thief is taking precedence.

Since the Globe & Mail expanded their Life section, there has been constant derision from the higher brow readers of that tome. And yet, over and over, pieces from the frothy section are being read. Must be the old 'riding a scooter' thing. Everyone wants to do it, nobody wants to be seen. I went to check out the Washington Post for you, but there was a hottie picture of Roger Federer on the front that I couldn't get past...sorry.

The New York Times 'most read' section is always a good cross-section of opinion and news. But something interesting - every time there is an article about health stuff, foods you should be eating, the proper way to exercise, how to live your life better - those features always ride high for a week or more. It's like we care about politics, but we really, really care about how big our arses are getting.

In my own totally unscientific reasoning, I think more and more papers are bolstering their, shall we say, purient sections because when people are reading on line, they go to that stuff. I remember commuting on the train to Toronto years ago, and you knew everything you had to by what paper someone had with them. The G&M people, the Star people, the - shudder - Sun people. Even the book people - I used to totally make assumptions based on these things. And everyone knew it. I recall some company used to make fake book covers so you could pretend.

But with the relative privacy of the net, people can click on what they want. And as formerly staid papers are upping the fluff factors, you better believe it's because people are clicking on it. My favourite time waster is to check out the comments sections most papers offer. The same ten boring idiots post repeatedly to every single story. And most of them start off the same way: 'Slow news day? What a waste of time...' and yet, they've read it (sometimes - many, many people post without reading, because they already know everything, doncha know), and taken the time to comment.

The 'most read' boxes - a glimpse into our nutty little heads.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lorraine: As you well know, it is one competitive market to sell papers anymore. A dinosaur in the making with the net being involved and being so available just about anywhere. We are creating quite a world. Not sure if it is for the better though? It would be nice to have some good news worthy stories written, not the fluff to fill space. ie: "the Hollywood group", to name just one. 24 hour news is not all it was intended too be.


July 07, 2008 6:18 AM  

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