Clickbait is ruining the art of headline writing.
As a budding young web editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, one of my colleagues and I would compete to see who could get his clever headline printed in the paper version. All that SEO stuff was boring to us. The real challenge was whether we could best the paper’s ace headline writer, which we rarely did. When it happened, it was a triumph. For headline nerds like us, there was no better feeling than hitting that pinnacle of pith.
But some point, we as content providers and journalists evolved from “Men walk on moon” to “Man Tries to Hug a Wild Lion, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” (Don’t bother clicking—the lion hugs him back. Actually, go ahead and click. If you haven’t seen it, it’s breathtaking.)