With the advent of the internet, the media has become faster and more accessible than ever before. Nowadays, breaking news is reported within minutes and you can browse multiple different news agency at the click of a button. But speed and access has become a double-edged sword, with many articles following a trend of focussing less on the content (or the truth) and more on how sensational the headline is, so that more people will click on it (known as clickbait).
Sensational headlines have always been popular, particularly in tabloid journalism. Headlines such as “Are the government lying about event X?” or “Have scientists found the cure to cancer?” attract people as hypothetical questions allow journalists to report on something without conclusive facts or evidence. Luckily, there is an old journalistic adage that allows us to combat this.
Betteridge’s law of headlines was devised by technology journalist Ian Betteridge, based on an old journalistic principle. It states that:
“Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no”.
If you apply this law to the above sensational articles, then you can avoid wasting time reading an article that will add nothing to your knowledge.
Learning is not only about acquiring knowledge, but also knowing what “knowledge” to avoid.