What is it about listicles that makes some journalists fume?

WHAT is it about listicles that so divides journalists?

Some find them harmless fun, others rail against the “trivialisation” of their craft.

One thing is for certain, readers find them irresistible.

Though dismissed by their detractors as “click-bait”, listicles regularly top the most-read rankings on regional newspaper websites around the country.

Listicles present information in bite-sized, easy-to-scan packages that lend themselves to sharing on social media.

Critics say the format, together with headlines that are sometimes accused of being manipulative, are rarely informative.

And because they generate lots of page impressions (which partly attracts advertising revenue) there is a suspicion that they are driven by commercial rather than journalistic priorities.

They may well be. But is that so bad? Healthy revenues help keep journalists in jobs.

Trivial? Possibly. But there has always been a place for lighter content in newspapers, which have published comic strips, jokes, puzzle pages and stories about oddly-shaped vegetables and the like for decades.

Lists have long been a mainstay of glossy magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and of newspapers too, where are generally described as “fact files”.

Listicles are not a replacement for traditional journalism, they are a supplement to it; a vibrant ingredient in the evolving mix of newspapers’ online content.

It is natural as journalists that we should be sceptical of new story-telling techniques, and some may not necessarily be right for us.

But we should never be afraid of is trying new things, even if sometimes we get them wrong. Our future lies in innovation, not in doing things the same way that we always have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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