Opinion: Facebook 'Boring Headline' Experiment Didn't DisappointOpinion
SAN ANGELO, TX – San Angelo LIVE! on Wednesday conducted and experiment on Facebook to see readers' reactions to boring headlines. You can read readers' reaction here. Here are our individual reactions and impressions of what went down Wednesday:
Yantis Green, Editor: We experimented Wednesday with bland headlines and some readers were delighted and others were outraged and took the opportunity to post their rants on Facebook.
Some readers took the opportunity to insult San Angelo LIVE! and our staff personally.
At the end of the day, just over 500 Facebook readers commented on the post which didn’t appear on our website so it was solely for Facebook.
San Angelo LIVE! has over 55,000 followers on Facebook, so we take those comments in stride.
We work hard everyday to investigate and report the news that matters from San Angelo and the surrounding areas because our audience is much larger than just San Angelo. The staff at San Angelo LIVE! has a variety of Journalistic education and experience and we are always working to improve our abilities and our product.
We live here, we work here, we are raising our families here and we strive to be a positive part of the community. We are human and we do make mistakes. We work hard and fast and we correct our mistakes when we find them.
It is an honor to work with the staff at San Angelo Live and serve this community.
Matt Trammell, Reporter: The day that will live in infamy. Boring headline day. What started out as a measly way to poke fun at "snowflakes" offended by some of our reporting— well, mostly mine: I have the crime beat — turned into a day that truly showed the power and strings that a company such as San Angelo LIVE! has.
The singular post that Mr. Hyde wrote became trending within the hour and was the 7th most read Facebook post by ALL Texas news sources yesterday according to CrowdTangle, an online tool that measures social media engagement. The post had zero to do with news. Still snowflakes were triggered, rival media sources trembled in their boots and even sent a couple “Journalist Police” our way, like the guy who works at rival media outlet KLST who claimed San Angelo LIVE! is the 'TMZ of San Angelo.'
As for me, my friends, my family, and co-workers we just sat back, watched our stats climb and continued to enjoy the Facebook ghetto’s cry.
Sonia Ramirez, Reporter: When we decided to implement "Boring Headline Day" we weren't sure how our readers would respond. We are often accused of "not telling the truth" or for "click-baiting" our readers with our headlines. We are often called "bad reporters" because people don't always agree with what we write. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as a writer at San Angelo Live, I can assure you that every one of us works hard every day to bring this city the news and stories we believe are important to our readers. And if we didn't shine the light on some of the more controversial subjects in our city, who will? Some people may not agree with the stories we publish, but that doesn't make them untrue or fake. We don't make up our news stories! We report information on crimes based upon the information that is given to us directly from authorities. We report on major crashes because in a city the size of San Angelo a wreck on Bryant and 19th will have an impact and we base our reports on statements given by police. More often than not people reach out to us through direct messages asking us to investigate police activity because they know San Angelo LIVE! will be willing to look into the issue and provide them with the facts. So, to everyone who gets upset with our stories, you may be upset at the headline or not appreciate what it is written, but I can assure you we all strive hard to write stories that are important to you and this city.
Joe Z. Hyde, Sports Writer: Before working at San Angelo LIVE!, I never had a Facebook account, but that changed on my first day four months ago when I was thrown into the fire that is the San Angelo LIVE! Facebook comments section. And I love it. It is a hub for people who often don't know each to share share jokes and complain, and both normally provide a laugh. Yesterday's boring headline day highlighted a prevalent theme of our detractors and people that get upset or find offense in any of the other Joe Hyde's posts (side note: please do not confuse the two of us. We are cousins, yet two different people. I even had friends in North Carolina text me screenshots of the boss' initial post announcing Boring Headline Day asking if I had snapped. I'm the level-headed Joe Hyde who writes about football). On Facebook, all tone, nuance, and context is lost. When Big Joe uses words like "snowflake" and snarkily responds to comments, it feels like some people view him as this angry man slamming on his keyboard with not one ounce of humor to be found. In reality, he's just having fun and trolling. He loves it.
Wednesday was filled with laughter in the office. Everyone enjoyed writing the boring headlines, and the comments were especially incredible. It is hard to put ourselves in readers' shoes sometimes, because we know what the office environment is like, and we have the context right in front of us. Practically none of our comments or replies are written in complete seriousness. We're just cracking jokes like the rest of you, and boring headline day was the best one yet.
Joe Hyde, Publisher: “Boring Headline Day” grew out of our knowledge of the nationwide angst that headlines allegedly are hyped to drive “clicks” that equal cash. Some of this is true, however, “clicks” account for less than 10 percent of our monthly revenue. The rest of our revenue comes from ad inventory already sold by the last day of the preceding month.
Exciting headlines aren’t new to the internet or social media age, either. In 1917, this city had at least two competing papers, the Times and the Standard. Each had to sell hard copies of their newspapers to survive. Do you think a paper with a boring frontpage headline could sell many papers in 1917?
Maybe journalism turned boring during the second half of the last decade, especially when newspapers consolidated and each community was left with just one surviving company. With no competition, publishers had no need to generate sales, and since writers at corporate monopolies are risk adverse, they began producing very boring headlines.
Until earlier this decade, there was no way to definitely count how many times a particular story was read. That changed with the modern statistics programs like Google Analytics and Quantcast. Today, we can tell exactly how many folks read a story, approximately how long they took to read it, and if the story was enticing enough to get the reader to click on another page on the website.
With modern statistics software, publishers can directly see that readership has a direct impact on a publication’s bottom line because the feedback loop has returned, just like the one that existed back in 1917 when the livelihood of the newspaper boy on the street corner was screaming, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”
Shifting through the ugly personal attacks against me yesterday, I found a gem. One reader remarked that, “At least they’re honest!”
In four words, that guy condensed why San Angelo LIVE! is successful. We are honest about who we are, we are honest about what we write. That’s why you’re here and we are too.
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