In 2012, anyone can make a website, slap a few ads on it, fatten it with drivel in place of content, and reap the benefits of search engines and millions of people trying to find real reporting, information or advice. Anyone can make money advertising on the internet if they put their minds to it.
Unfortunately, there are a handful of sites out there making millions of dollars, and over-saturating the web with fake journalism, bad art, faulty information and in some cases, stolen information. Some of these sites have such a stranglehold on the internet because of the fact they produce a lot of keyword-heavy content. The problem is, that content is most often produced by inexperienced hacks and amateurs, thus crowding the web with bad search results and preventing users from encountering anything worth reading.
Here are the top two offenders:
1. Bleacher Report:
“Sports journalists and bloggers covering NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MMA, college football and basketball, NASCAR, fantasy sports and more. News, photos, mock drafts, game scores, player profiles and more!”
They could skip the term “journalists” and simply admit that they use the writing of anyone with a computer. Literally. I know this first hand.
A friend and I, before we knew the horrors of B/R, wrote for this site. He and I both have advanced degrees in writing, but they would routinely publish the half-assed efforts of 16 year high-school kids, and their unpaid editors would edit their titles and pump their paragraphs with search-engine friendly keywords. They use a tactic of keyword-juicing and title stacking to get the best search results. Couple that with their already high-page rank, and anytime you search for something sports related, the garbage ‘reporting’ at Bleacher Report shows up first. And, you most likely click on it.
They don’t care about the content, whether it’s true, or even makes sense. Bleacher Report writers are routinely caught plagiarizing and/or failing to source their claims. Fortunately for them, all the editorial staff cares about is keeping a grip on the search term results. They will maintain that grip until people stop taking them seriously. You know what to do.
If evil had a face on the web, it would be Bleacher Report.
2. Huffington Post:
Once in a while, you can find a decent read there. But, one look at their sitewide format gives it all away. They’re in it for the pageviews. They are so concerned with keeping you on their website, and increasing their pageviews that they will cut your articles off halfway through, popup in the middle of your read, and often times compose misleading titles to engage potential readers. They are also guilty of keyword-juicing and title-stuffing.
Over the past few years, “HuffPo” as it’s affectionately called by its readers, has leaned heavily on entertainment news to keep their readership numbers going upwards. A few years ago, I considered the site a place I could get slightly biased news, now I consider it a webpage where I can read mainline-democratic propaganda and look at pictures of this week’s hottest butts and boobs.
Huffington Post has indeed sold its soul to the search engines.
Oh, and they whore-out their bloggers, as well. Arianna Huffington was sued for $105 million last year by a group of bloggers who were given “implied promise” of compensation. They lost the suit, (rightfully so), but she was a remorseless bitch about it, and seemed to have nothing positive to say about the hundreds of bloggers who helped her build her empire.
Be careful out there folks. Be sure you’re reading news by journalists on sites that have integrity. An ad here and there isn’t a bad thing. Remember newspapers? They had ads. Someone has to pay the writers.
Just be sure you’re not falling prey to corporations like Bleacher Report (TBS) and shameless “editors” like Arianna Huffington. It’s clear by their presentation and lack of integrity that all they want is your mouse clicks, not your respect.