27 Jun

Proposal: One-sentence News

Stop luring people on your trite news blogs with misleading titles. Sure, a mysterious or provocative title is a good way to get people interested, but it in worst case makes your blog (and you) look uninformed. Especially, when the first sentence of the news item doesn’t explain the inaccuracies of the main headline.

News should never be speculative and if that is the case, it has to be explicitly stated where the line between fact and fiction goes. Some news are meant to be taken as entertainment but that style of writing should not bleed to potentially important news items. At least I expect to get information from news, even if I just casually pick the interesting sounding ones.

I hereby give away another priceless idea: one-sentence news. That is, you do not need to read the full article after you have read the descriptive, 5-15 word headline. Maybe that’ll cut into the advertising profit for there are less visitors to your site from feed readers etc. but not providing full articles in a feed is yesterday. And if you really only write 20 words per article, well, I guess that could make it profitable if you divide your income by the amount of text you write.

Here’s an example: Popular Science reports “Genetic Material Found on Meteorite“. What went wrong? Take a guess. At the very least I expect to read about scientists finding very discriminating evidence on a meteorite with a blacklight, kinda like how they do it with dead hookers in CSI.

Even the subtitle right below the main title already downplays the sensational title and states “A meteorite in Australia has been found to contain component molecules of DNA”. And if you take the time to read the article, you’ll learn similar molecules that make up DNA are found on a meteorite (I bet a rather large percent of the molecules in your DNA most likely are entirely made on Earth). That’s like reporting there are organic molecules in space (look it up), and not explaining what “organic” actually means. Except in the end, right below the ad banner.

How could that be reported in one sentence and what are the benefits? First, you’ll deliver the exact same amount of information but quicker. “Similar Molecules as in Your DNA Found on a Meteorite”. “The Birth of DNA Molecules Could Have Been Helped by Completely Uninteresting Stuff on Meteorites Billions of Years Ago”. Hell, I don’t care if it’s a haiku. Just make it terse, informative and less stupid.