Sex-with-students, Bieber column is all about page views

Back in 2010, Gene Weingarten complained in his “Gene Weingarten column mentions Lady Gaga” piece that “on the Web, headlines aren’t designed to catch readers’ eyes.” Instead, “they are designed for ‘search engine optimization’ meaning that readers who are looking for information about something will find the story, giving the newspaper a coveted ‘eyeball.’”

York Daily Record columnist Mike Argento has written his version of the “Lady Gaga” column, but he uses different terms.

In a blatant and shameless attempt to gain page views, it behooves me to write this piece that will be sprinkled with references to Justin Bieber and teachers having sex with students. Whenever either appears in the news, they get loads of page hits and sometimes, it makes the website Fark.com, which means loads of people will click on it. Fark.com is a great thing. We love Fark.com, and the more I mention Fark.com, the better the chance of this appearing on Fark.com.

I asked Argento how many page views his column about chasing views got and where it landed in his paper’s most-read list.

I’m not sure where it ranked. Nor do I know how many page hits it got. I really don’t check on that stuff. Funny thing is, Thursday night, my wife was on our website and the top story was one about a teacher accused of having sex with a student.

I didn’t hear anything from management [about the column]. Like every paper and news organization or whatever we’re becoming, our focus is on this stuff. But nobody said anything. Other journalists, though, did. They seemed to like it. It struck a nerve, I suppose.

* Why do teachers have sex with students?

Comments

comments

3 comments
  1. Chase said:

    Regarding headlines, take a look at the main headlines at http://www.comcast.net and http://www.yahoo.com for a few days. Watch how many times the word “embarrassing” comes up. It’s amazing … someone must have calculated that the word draws eyeballs. “Reporter makes embarrassing mistake,” “Athlete’s Embarrassing Slip” … etc. Weird.

  2. D Brooks said:

    “Shocking” is another such weird – I don’t recall that as an reader-grabber in print, tabloid or otherwise, but it’s ubiquitous online.

  3. fermata said:

    I agree with his premise, but he does himself a disservice by ignoring the column’s effect in terms of page views and search ranking. Makes me wonder if the numbers didn’t support his claim that keyword-spamming would up his page views or if he is just bad with follow-through.