Is President Trump a puppet of Russia? Did Hillary Clinton deliberately deceive the American people? Did Chandler really have a thing for Ross towards the end of series 5 of the show ‘Friends’? Who knows? But the fact remains, more and more questions have been goose-stepping their way into mainstream and alternative media headlines leading many to ask questions of their own as to why.
Usually the realm of the sleazy supermarket tabloid, headline questions are now routinely published by such revered, truth-seeking institutions as the BBC, FOX News, CNN and especially the Washington Post, now openly challenging the maxim by famous tech journalist Ian Betteridge who stated: “Any headline which ends in a question mark, the answer is no.” These days, the answer is increasingly ‘yes’, as yellow journalists and editors from all spectrum seek to cash in on ever-diminishing attention spans, divisive politics, and overall social retardation.
Media companies have known for millennia that they could plant an ‘agenda seed’ in the minds of the truly dim witted through questioned headlines, but not in their wildest wet dreams could they imagine a day where college-educated people would glean knee-jerk reactionary opinions fed to them by a diminishing number of information monopolies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. That day is here and it seems no institution is above using these once-shunned tactics and many others in their slimy strategic tool box. While most journalists and editors agree that these types of headlines are deceitful and misleading, many marketing copy-writers, publicity agents and other spawns of the Dark Master disagree.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing, using quasi-formed, easily digestible questions to get people talking in a direction we want,” says Trudy Levin, a publicist from the Abrams Waterhouse firm and recent graduate of the University of Hades. “Sure, no confirmable information is ever given, but is that what people really want? Sources? Confirmation? Our focus-group testing shows us that they most certainly do not and most people just read the headlines anyhow so why would we want to confuse them with follow-up words that provide provable information? Makes no sense and ink costs money, even on the internet.”
Unfortunately, as more and more marketing professionals and their ilk fill the ranks of top news media, trends like these will continue for good or for bad. Well, let’s be honest, just for the bad. As the information battle rages, there will always be those who will seek to gain the advantage from their opponent and when the opponent is stupidity itself, they come up aces every time. Is your pet’s Halloween costume sexist? Does ammonia and bleach combined really produce mustard gas? Does drinking paint thinner really make you feel younger? For now, you just have to find out for yourself.