Pandora Surprise: New York Post Headline Writers Are Hacks
But first, let's get something straight right off the bat.
Just as good television and radio stations do everything possible to keep you tuned in through commercial breaks, we want you to click on our articles. As such, we write snappy headlines. While many other organizations use "headline writers," TheStreet, by and large, leaves article titles up to the author. After all, we know what best represents the content we, as individuals, write.
Call it "click bait" all you want; I call it smart. Do readers expect us to write headlines that would discourage them from clicking on an article? Not any more than they would expect CNBC's Carl Quintanilla to say, You know what, dear viewer, turn off the TV because we gots unadulterated boredom after these commercials .
That said -- and, yes, I fall short from time to time -- I hold myself to a standard: The content that follows the click must deliver -- as in flow from -- the headline. The content needs to satisfy the reader's quest for information and/or stimulation. You might not always agree with what you read, but you weren't mislead.
Unfortunately, not everybody abides by this guiding principle. Again, nobody's perfect -- we all mess up occasionally -- but if you were to cobble a list of the worst offenders, News Corp's (NWSA) New York Post belongs at the top.
Here's the headline it used this morning on an "EXCLUSIVE" Pandora story:
Then, in the story , Claire Atkinson buries what absolutely should have been part of the lead, focusing on "financial trouble" and broad-stroke mentions of an "increase in
That's a problem.
If you only read the headline -- as so many people do -- you walk away thinking, here we go again, Pandora's royalties keep going up. That's a general perception that, while not necessarily false, paints a not-exactly-accurate picture.
Here's the deal: As Atkinson vaguely explains in her final few paragraphs, Pandora pays 93% of its content acquisition costs to SoundExchange on a per-track basis as per the 2009 Webcaster Settlement ( See my explanation of compulsory versus direct licensing for some color ). This is the chunk of money the labels and Internet radio are fighting over in Congress right now.
Composition royalties/music publishing rights make up roughly 4% of Pandora's content acquisition expenses; this money goes to music publishers such as Sony/ATV.