Junk Journalism: Why Writing For Ad Space Turns Readers Off ...by Bill Knell
The most frustrating thing that can happen to someone attempting to research most any subject online is running into Junk Journalism. You visit a website looking for serious information or content only to be confronted by a wordy, mostly useless article. If you are lucky it might contain one or two sentences of information that will be helpful to you. The problem is that you had to read a dozen useless paragraphs and click through several pages to get there.
People experience this type of thing all the time. I know I do. So, I have learned that when I land on a site like that it is time to immediately move on to greener pastures. I mentally ban those sites and, after a while, recognize them in search results. And I am not alone. Newbies do not know this and will have to learn by experience just as I did. That is what keeps these useless, over monetized sites alive.
Now, don't get me wrong. These websites obviously make money or they would not exist. And it may be that the hacks who write for them may also make money. The issue is not just how negatively they affect visitors, but what they do to the people who write the content. Writers develop enough bad habits without having their writing style ruined by producing pulp garbage for what amounts to ad sites with virtually no useful information.
A writer is like any other professional. If they start out or head in the wrong direction, it is hard to change course later. You might be a talented musician who learned to play by ear. That will entertain people at a local talent show or inspire parishioners at a church if religious music is your thing. What it will not do is get you a job as a serious music professional. For that you have to learn to read music and be able to transfer that information to the instrument of your choice. By the time you get around to doing that, your brain is already hard wired for playing by ear.
Another aspect to Junk Journalism is the disregard many writers have for spelling. Sure, we all turn off Spell Check to avoid having to go back and dump or change words it uses instead of those we type. That doesn't give us permission to write something with misspelled words. I cannot get through any major News site without finding a number of misspelled words. If you doubt me, try it yourself. Misspelling doesn't just tell the reader that you really don't care about what you're writing; It detracts from the subject and causes an unnecessary pause in the material.
Very few writers are disciplined enough to obey all the grammatical rules and that includes me. I do not believe there is anything wrong with having a 'natural’ writing style that allows the Writer to make his or her point in their own words. That's a far cry from being too lazy to spell words correctly or create a dumb-downed document using increasingly popular 'phonetic’ spelling.
Just because our educational system sometimes embraces phonetic spelling doesn't make it right, especially if you plan to write professionally. The teacher writes TELEPHONE on the board, then writes TELEFONE next to it and says that's alright because it's pronounced that way. Meanwhile, some brain trust in the back of the room that has already benefited from years of this type of education says, “Yeah, It's spelled that way in Canada, right?” I think I have made my point.