Clickbait Cut and Paste Churnalism

Listen to this from David Simon – creator of US TV show ‘The Wire’ – who sums it up all too well. There is nothing that better illustrates his point than WalesOnline and their reporter (not journalist) Andy Howell aka Poison Dwarf. He and WalesOnline are the exact types currently killing high end journalism by more articulate writers and researchers.

Just look at WalesOnline and their policy of producing little but clickbait shit and churnalised copy and paste stuff. I admit I’ve been guilty of falling for clickbait shit a few times, and I’m sure many others have. But that’s the point, their clickbait shit gets double the views with half the effort.

So is there anything wrong with that? After all ‘it is a business’ as I saw Simon Thomas defend clickbait shit to PhilBB on Twitter.

But the problem is they leech off genuine high end journalism. Take the Rugby Paper for example. Having actually done work investigating, I’ve noticed they have had a load of their work just churnalised. You wouldn’t need to buy it most weeks, as the likes of ESPN Scrum, WalesOnline amongst others have often essentially just copy and paste their work onto their own sites whilst producing nothing of journalistic credence themselves.

As David Simon explains, sites like these don’t deliver ‘first generation reporting’. Instead they ‘leech that reporting from news publications’ whilst themselves ‘contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth’. Sounds like WalesOnline alright.

Now whilst it’s easier for us all to get stuff for free, it can’t carry on. Genuine high end journalism requires the employment of well trained, intelligent and articulate writers with resources to investigate and that doesn’t pay for itself so needs money. But clickbait is more successful online, and the genuine journalistic work just gets churnalised by these outlets like WalesOnline.

These practices are killing high end journalism, which at the end of the day is what properly studies and researches issues to keep the public informed and hold organisations to account. Losing that would lead to just copying press releases from organisations than actual research, investigation and questioning.

But should it bother the Poison Dwarf? Who can get paid to write at the level of a 16 year old struggling to get a C in his GCSE’s and just copy and paste from other sources. I think it should as soon companies will realise they can get more content done for less money.

We’ve seen that Bleacher Report can produce tonnes of lists that are just outsourced to willing fans who just have to write an example article to be accepted as a contributor. Their clickbait lists work to the same effect, but they can get more for free. Also algorithms will soon be able to produce copy and paste jobs, that work could be done by a machine or just cheap labour done on the minimum wage. You could just have one ‘James Hook should play 10’ template article, put it through an algorithm and have it re-written, which is essentially what Poison Dwarf does.

It may seem all great to get money for work that’s well within the capabilities of a well trained chimpanzee right now for Poison Dwarf, but I think eventually he and other copy and paste chumps could suffer for this and end up on minimum wage.

Unfortunately the sad thing is clickbait WalesOnline also kills genuine research and journalism for example, which needs to protected from the leeches. In future disputes and battles in rugby someone like Paul Rees could be left out of journalism as the broadsheets have to make more cuts as their clickbaits get more views than genuine journalism, and there’d be no research but just copy and paste press releases and clueless input from ex players.

So I just want to make it known, I applaud the efforts made here by the likes of Carlos studying the hugely complicated Irish wage system for example. Just sad that work probably took a load of effort, time and intelligence to produce, but because it wouldn’t appeal to thickos and casual observers that sort of stuff would struggle to ever get done regularly as a full time paid job. Whilst Poison Dwarves can lazily just troll, not bother to research (see his view on Irish wages) and then leech any genuine research and reporting when it suits and get paid for it.

The unofficial world of Welsh rugby and stuff