Sites Make Up News Others Report It. The Age of Link Baiting.
A horrible trend has been kicking into high gear in recent months, website completely pulling crap out of their asses and reporting it as news based on “rumor.” Those rumors are based on nothing really other than wishful thinking. You saw this kick into high gear around San Diego Comic-Con this year as numerous sites reported that Cable, X-Force, Deadpool, Aquaman, the Flash and Wonder Woman were all getting movies announced. Of course, none of those were announced, but who knows in the future. In the short term though, those rumors died a sad sad death.
This week though, the bullshit factor kicked into high gear with the “reporting” that actor Bryan Cranston would be playing Lex Luthor in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. I won’t link to the dogshit reporting concerning this, but it was picked up by reputable newsites all acting as if this was a done deal. Few mentioned that this was all a rumor and no announcement had been made and if they did, that fact was buried behind a misleading subject.
Luckily some sites called the reporting out for what it was, completely made up. The Atlantic Wire, Screen Crush and Comic Book Movie all called out the poor reporting taking those respected sites to task for the bad reporting. While the talented actor might be announced down the road, he hasn’t yet and until an official announcement is made, it’s all people making themselves feel important by playing a game of telephone.
During all of that, Elizabeth Olsen was “in discussions” to play the Scarlet Witch in the Avengers sequel. That too was also rumors and talks often don’t wind up as anything other than a wishlist of actors. That too was reported as a done deal.
Last night, I received an email reporting on another “fact” about Avengers: Age of Ultron and the origin of Ultron and ties to Jarvis. Again, this might come out as true, but it was clear that the site was looking for links and the hits. They outright asked for a link to their story, and if a site did report this, then they should be doing that regardless. But, since it worked for the other not in the know website, it’ll work for this one too, right?
Here’s the short of it, this is link baiting. It’s the new form of “journalism” whose entire goal is to get you to click a link like a mouse trying to get some food by clicking a lever. There’s little truth to those rumors usually, and often it’s wishful thinking or misheard information. The Onion took CNN to task (and really every site) for their reporting about Miley Cyrus’ meltdown.
But here’s the worst part of it all, this actually hurts the rest of us when we report actual rumors that are true based on insider or leaked information, not made up, not wishful thinking. It encourages the worst kind of “journalism” and “reporting.” Being Bob Woodward (look him up) doesn’t involve writing down what you and your friends thought would be cool and passing it off as reality. You’re most likely wrong, and you will be called out.
Here’s what you can do, stop feeding the trolls. Stop posting these clearly bogus posts and stories. Stop visiting those sites. Judge sites on accuracy on what they have to say about facts and reality, not the wildest fanboy dreams they can cook up.