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Jan Moir, poker and headline writing

October 18, 2009


Is it right to jump on the Moir bandwagon, use bad writing as an SEO-optimising springboard for your unrelated web news?

So this very random piece of web writing (above) jumped out at me as I looked for that article a few days ago.

It’s a cheap shot, but shows which direction web writing is going, and as a sub editor it’s disappointing.

First you have the Daily Mail article, which shows that nothing is off limits when you want to grab those clicks. The more bad taste and false controversy, the more comments, outrage and publicity.

I’m fine with the increasing trend of short/snappy Twitter-style writing and multi-media on the internet. Most of us have shorter attention spans. Get over it. As a sub-editor, it’s fascinating to experiment with the best ways of getting information across, grabbing people etc.

But while content length is decreasing, I don’t think the same should apply to writers’ levels of decency. It’s not the best way forward to struggle for readers’ attention. Would this piece have been written for the printed product? No, but online it’s a risk that some publications want to play at. (Update: Have just realised it was printed, so ignore last comment!)

Back to Poker News – is this good headline writing? Is everything fair game if you can get yourself to soar up the Google rankings? I had typed in “Jan Moir” and it was second on Google.

In one sense, the Daily Mail can look at this as a huge success, if you believe there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

One thing’s for sure, Moir’s article was definitely a gamble, and I’m not sure it was one that paid off. Social media is circling – Facebook was quick off the mark

Any views about the Daily Mail school of web writing? Please leave a comment…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2009 12:38 pm

    I hope that decency and quality will prevail in this. I know that Google is constantly trying to clamp down on SEO abuse.
    It was interesting to see in some of the anti-Moir campaign material was linking to a different page they specially created for her article, and not to the Daily Mail page. Also the campaign focused on DM advertisers, which is a good strategy.
    I hope that as the media moves away from desperately seeking volume and to offering a more high value, smaller audience this type of activity will decrease.


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