3.11.16 Clickbait, Kim Kardashian, and the opposite of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ magic

Quite a few of you know I write for a living. Most of you know my main gig is in the mornings from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., when I’m writing up stories on The Today Show‘s website.

I don’t talk about this a lot. No need to take a wrong step here. I like this job! But I’m gonna dive in right here briefly and take a risk. See, when it comes out that I have this as a regular gig, I get a couple of reactions — one of which is “wow, you have to write about a lot of celebrity stuff, don’t you.”

And the answer is: Yes. But not all the time. I also get to write about puppies (or my dog) and inspirational parents and children and sometimes I even maybe get a really interesting story in there that goes viral. (Hi, Stoney!) So it all balances out. For every Kardashian, there’s an Our Curse and that’s how these things should go and I’m just fine with the order of the world.


Peter Emshwiller interviewing himself.

But I’m also often asked: Why do people like the Kardashians get so much print? Why do people always write about Kanye West? Who cares about them?

That sentiment is echoed by the commenters on our Facebook page, commenters who routinely crack me up in about a thousand different ways. There are people who actually take time out of their day to post a comment under a celebrity’s photo and story to say “I DON’T KNOW WHO THIS IS.”  And there are the underminers of clickbait who will tell you in the comments exactly what the reason is this woman isn’t smiling in her Splash Mountain photo because they are so very, very smart and will not let you, gentle reader, waste your time giving us an extra clickthrough. Oh, no, no, no.

Don’t even get me started on the spammers, who leak through despite our best efforts.

And of course, there are also dozens, if not hundreds, of people who reply to every Kim Kardashian post with the same cri de coeur: Why do you keep covering these people!

The No. 1 story from this past week at work.

The No. 1 story from this past week at work.

Anyway, once a week I also do this other thing, where I aggregate the Top 10 stories of the week. These are the ones that actually got all the click-throughs, the ones that made people check them out. We know because we have tiny robots in a drawer somewhere who are counting. And so I am going to answer the important question of our time, so that we all finally understand why we, along with dozens of other media outlets, cover the Kardashians.

Please check out our Top 10 stories for this week. Look specifically at Nos. 3 and 4.

That is the reason. Not just one story on this exact same topic was huge this past week. Two of them were!

So if you want to see less of them (though frankly I’m always up for seeing more of Bette Midler, so it’s not like this week was too onerous), I have this to say: Restrain yourself.

This goes not just for where I work, but everywhere else on the internet. Every time you click on a dopey picture of a dopey reality star (or egocentric musician or ridiculous media-hogging actor), the opposite of the It’s a Wonderful Life magic happens. An angel does not get his (or her) wings. Instead, an angel keels over, choking.

This has been a public service announcement.




  1. Anne Louise Bannon on 3/11/16 at 11:16 pm

    Argh. I totally agree. However, the people who are complaining probably aren’t the ones clicking thru.

    • Randee on 3/11/16 at 11:29 pm


  2. J.H. Moncrieff on 3/17/16 at 6:30 am

    This reminds me of the people who complain, “The news has too many crime stories! It’s depressing! Why can’t you cover happier topics?” and then are quick to say, “What, was it a slow news day?” when you cover a positive community or feature story.

    And guess what any news outlet’s top stories are? Yep, you got it–crime.

    • Randee on 3/17/16 at 10:49 am

      Precisely. We get a lot of “I thought you were better than this” type comments on posts. It’s like, you’re on the *entertainment page* of a *morning news show.* You really would prefer Gore Vidal?