Because I work second shift, I seldom get to see the nightly news on television. Therefore, my main source of world events is either the Internet or the newspaper, because they are both ready to give me the news when I am available to read it.
This week, on ABCNews. com I read that Tom Cruise is going gray. First of all, I asked myself why this was news. The man is in his late 40s. As a gray haired woman of a certain age, I know this the natural progression of things, and not really worthy of a headline.
But this story was on the front page under “Latest Headlines” right below an article stating that on hindsight, Dick Cheney thinks that choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate may have been a mistake. Again… this is news? Maybe this particular list of headlines should have been called “Latest Headlines that Aren’t Really News to Anyone”.
But anyway, back to poor, old, graying Tom Cruise. Is the reason why he’s suddenly turning gray because his soon-to-be-ex wife was spotted with another man? I only know this from the teaser headline I saw on USA Today’s website.
Although, to USA Today’s credit, their Katie Holmes headline was appropriately placed on their entertainment page.
But even this is bordering on sensationalism, because as the article states, the unknown man was identified, after what I can only imagine was a media frenzy of investigative journalism. The mystery date was actually her lawyer… and his wife… and they were at the zoo with Katie… and Suri, the Cruises’ daughter.
Yes, the Cruises are divorcing. But why is this hard-hitting news? What drives credible news agencies to put these teaser headlines on their websites?
My guess is Google. Page views drive revenue on the net. A page view is a “click” on a website by an interested viewer. Every click is worth money to Google and subsequently to the host website because Google controls the advertising on most websites.
Therefore, Tom Cruise’s gray hair pulls as much newsworthy weight as political candidates, past vice-presidents and the 2012 Olympics. Why? Because he’s a guaranteed page view driver. People want to see him with gray hair, so they click.
As ashamed as I am to admit it, I clicked. I’m not even sure why I did.
I’ve never liked his movies, and I’m secretly glad that Katie Holmes broke free. But, I succumbed to the bait.
And what did I get for my Google contribution? A small story about Tom’s gray face stubble after being caught in an act of bad grooming by an ace photographer/paparazzi.
I deserved it. I shouldn’t have clicked.