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Saturday, May 25, 2024

For your entertainment: News media should notice the danger of click bait

The Internet recently had a brief stint shaming Calvin Klein over whether a new face of the CK underwear line was considered a plus-size model.

In what appeared to be little more than a misunderstanding between the fashion line and Elle magazine, short blips of articles popped up everywhere from The Onion to USAToday.

Although the story may have started out as click bait – small articles with usually bombastic titles that get Internet users to give certain websites more views and traffic – it concluded with Myla Dalbesio receiving greater press coverage than the average model ever will.

With facial features similar to those of Keira Knightley and huge boobs (Sorry, I'm not sorry), yes, Dalbesio is not the average model included in a CK underwear campaign. But the facts of the matter are: Her body shape is attractive. Her face is gorgeous. And she fills out the biggest of CK bras. Who cares that she’s a size 10? You can’t tell that she’s a large woman by any other measure than her height, which is 5’11” if you were wondering.

The influx of articles shaming the fashion line for claiming Dalbesio is a plus-size model when she’s “only a size 10,” a size away from being “plus” at a 12, was not only unnecessary, but also irresponsible.

The media industry may cater to the views of its audience and the clicks of its readers, especially online, but producing many versions of the same article based on a tweet from Elle magazine is just perpetuating pure conjecture. One of journalism’s key elements is its dedication to the truth.

We may jump at the chance to fuel a rumor or another frivolous happening if it will sell ads and inject funding into the news industry, but it’s a reporter’s job to tell people what news is important and pertinent. It’s also a journalist’s job to be as honest, transparent and unbiased as possible.

You may recognize I spoke about a woman’s breast size and the integrity of the journalism industry in the same few paragraphs, but I suppose that’s the point I’m trying to make.

With this specific set of stories and coverage in mind, I have a question for those who cover news – everything from Buzzfeed entertainment articles to the very recent FSU tragedy: When does “click bait” and the need for funding completely disconnect our industry from its dignity and purpose?

When and where do we draw the line?

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