While checking the Age today in incognito mode to defeat their paywall, I came across this article.
I guess we all know or have heard the clickbait stories, and how important it is but this article gives us a clue as to why these papers write about Essendon as much as they possibly can. Its up to us to devise a method, or the self discipline to avoid this. So maybe, we just have to post any articles of interest, according to Blitz rules
so that no-one has to actually go to the sites of these papers. I know its an old policy, but one worth re-inforcing. Maybe the general membership of the club could somehow be told that articles on Essendon could be read on the Blitz ? Thats at least 60,000 potentially not clicking on the papers websites so often !
Clicks go to cheers as small clubs and sports lose out
Date December 27, 2014
Senior sports writer for The Age
On the same December day last year when the world mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela, there was another African name challenging Mandela as click bait on The Age website.
The defender/wingman formerly known as Harry O’Brien had changed his name to Heritier Lumumba, taking his biological father’s Congolese surname. While this momentous breaking news didn’t draw commentary from heads of state - or much commentary at all - there was a period in the afternoon when the changing of a (then) Collingwood player’s name was attracting more “traffic” on this paper’s website than any single Mandela story.
Fortunately, the Lumumba lead over Mandela proved ephemeral, as the death of the South African statesman duly regained the page impression lead, saving everyone who cherishes journalism - including the author of the Harry O article - from embarrassment. In defence of the readers, it should also be noted that the Mandela market was divided between several stories, versus one easily digested, short Lumumba bulletin.
But the overriding point is as plain as porridge - that just as the viewers know more about the Kardashian kitchen than the state of the global economy, there’s a sizeable proportion of the public which would rather read about footy - even the most trivial developments - than something of international significance.
Lumumba’s old teammate, Dane Swan, plainly recognised how the new digital/social media game works on December 12, when, in response to the latest coverage of his pre-season, he tweeted a request to the Herald Sun to “stop using me as clickbait and to sell papers”.
Well, sorry Swanny, unless you shuffle off into retirement, your wish is unlikely to be granted by any digital/written media - the combination of Collingwood, heavily inked limbs, a Brownlow medal and a mordant wit makes the Great Dane irresistible to those who cover the AFL.
Swan has 112,000 Twitter followers. Sally Pearson, who is this country’s most recognised and decorated Olympic athlete, has less than a third of Swanny’s twits - Pearson boasting a modest 29,000 in her tribe. This puts the Olympic champion slightly ahead in the Twitterverse of new Bulldogs skipper Rob Murphy, whose Age column and Fox Footy presence means he is probably the highest-profile all of the Dogs - possibly excepting Tom Boyd.
The internet is changing sport in myriad ways. One ominous development that has drawn scant attention is that, as a populist medium in which the reader/clicker has a greater say in what’s newsworthy, the biggest sports - and clubs - have entrenched a sizeable advantage over their smaller competitors. Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton, Richmond and Hawthorn attract more clicks, more tweets and Facebook and Instagrams than North, the Bulldogs and Melbourne, while the AFL/NRL and cricket leave other sports in the digital dust.
Today, the digital media can measure their audiences - how many, how long they’re on the site - with a precision that the old newspapers and television stations couldn’t. More worrisome for the smaller clubs and sports, the numbers are instantaneous - 500 are reading this story right now - and whereas the back page can’t be easily changed (only from one edition to another), the internet’s a high-speed, highly movable news feast. One minute the lead story is about Nick Riewoldt’s contract, the next it’s about … Essendon.
There’s dozen of examples we can cite. One is that the Ryan Griffen/Tom Boyd/Brendan McCartney story - probably the most important of 2014 on the AFL richter scale (Essendon being a rolling saga) - attracted merely strong, rather than monstrous internet numbers at Fairfax Media, compared with less sensational “big club” revelations.
Moderate Dane Swan stories - such as one when Nathan Buckley disassociated Swanny from any link to bikie Toby Mitchell - matched or even exceeded much of the Griffen/Boyd stuff on the Age sites. The strongest Bulldog story - and measuring interest is complicated by the constant updating/revisions - was probably the sacking of McCartney, which still attracted something like half the hits as Dale Thomas leaving Collingwood for Carlton 12 months earlier.
Coach knifings remain to the AFL media what the leadership challenge is to political coverage, but big-name player defections - such as Buddy Franklin/Gary Ablett/Chris Judd - can eclipse coaching assassinations, if the player is a sufficient celebrity.
The McCartney story in October was large enough to outgun Michael Clarke’s December hamstring injury on the Age website, but the batting order would reverse if the national figures were tallied. Clarke’s injury was similar, in terms of internet hits on our site, to the Sally Pearson/Eric Hollingsworth spat. Pearson is one of few OIympic sport athletes with the profile that can create a major story. More troubling, Sally is a rare woman who can compete with the Kardashian-like celebrities of sport.
In football, the digital influence means that Gary Ablett is considered more newsworthy than Gold Coast - and if this was also true when Wayne Carey outrated the Kangas, the gap wasn’t so quantifiable.
Cricket’s prominence on free to air television is a huge driver of social media. The Big Bash League - entirely nutrition-free sporting entertainment - is a Twitter monster. The Melbourne Renegades versus Sydney Sixers game on December 19 accounted for 85 per cent of all television program tweets while it was on air. Collingwood, meanwhile, use their huge social media numbers as part of a pitch to sponsors and is planning a series of filmed documentaries that will be screened on their website.
Back in August, I spoke to a sports forum at the MCG, organised by Victoria University, and made the observation that a world record by an Australian swimmer would be roughly equivalent to a moderate James Hird story, on the click-ster scale. In days of yore, newspaper editors could dictate to the reader that North’s dire financial position was more newsworthy than, say, Essendon’s new ruckman, or that Karrie Webb’s US tour win deserved prominence.
The challenge to all sports that aren’t footy and cricket and to smaller clubs in the AFL is to get on the front foot, to open the doors and, above all, to tell their stories. Tennis, golf, netball, basketball, swimming, athletics, cycling, motor sports, rowing - even soccer, despite its momentum - have to re-imagine themselves as media companies. They must ask ‘what story can we tell that is interesting to the public?’ It will not suffice, either, to rely on their own websites, which have much smaller reach here than the AFL and cricket versions. They should accept that, controversy, in the right dosage, can help.
This doesn’t mean searching desperately for a seven-foot swimmer or a champion netballer with triplets. But it does require recognition of how the market forces are arrayed against them, and that they have to be proactive in the digital space.
The alternative is to allow footy, cricket and the big clubs to keep clicking ahead, while half-back flankers remain on the same digital plane as world leaders.