In response to the Miley Cyrus spectacle during MTV’s Video Music Awards and the mass social commentary that has ensued, The Onion, well known for its satire, published a pretty educational article supposedly penned by Meredith Artley, Managing Editor Of CNN.com focusing on the reason why this particular “news” was given a place of prominence on CNN’s website that outweighed the apparent chemical attacks on civilians in Syria.
In it The Onion debunks the reasons for that decision claiming that it was motivated solely by potential revenue—driven by clicks and bounce rates—and that more of the former and the less of the latter is what drives business—not news. The bounce rate in particular “is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. If we can keep that bounce rate low, and show companies that people don’t just go to CNN.com but stay there, then we can go to Ford or McDonald’s or Samsonite or whatever big company you can think of and ask for the big bucks” (The Onion, 2013). The article was the most trafficked of the day on CNN.com and gathered more than 13,000 comments. Artley, the real managing editor at CNN took it all in stride, and has stated she has no plans for legal action (Wilstein, 2013). This all begs the question “Is there a market for real news without editorial or sensationalism and can it compete with our apparently insatiable drive for entertainment?”
Further, I wonder what the view counts and bounce rates were at The Onion for their clever way of maneuvering into the news cycle at its peak. Their article has been “liked” almost 300,000 times on Facebook and tweeted close to 15,000 times. Not bad stats for a site that didn’t even post the video.
The Onion. (2013, Aug 26). Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning. Retrieved from The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/let-me-explain-why-miley-cyrus-vma-performance-was,33632/
Wilstein, M. (2013, Aug 27). CNN Editor Responds to The Onion’s Brutal Miley Cyrus-Themed Take Down. Retrieved from Mediaite: http://www.mediaite.com/online/cnn-editor-responds-to-the-onions-brutal-miley-cyrus-themed-take-down/