The Cost of Clickbait Culture

J Pelayo
J Pelayo

The world seems it’s where the currency of the realm is likes, shares, and viral status, and a troubling trend has firmly taken root in the fertile soil of our digital landscapes. Some content creators, unprofessional journalists, and influencers, in an unbridled quest for viewership, have begun to prioritize sensationalism over substance, and controversy over integrity. This phenomenon is not exclusive to the fringes of the internet; it has seeped into mainstream media, eroding the foundations of responsible journalism.

The recent case in which a famous actress has filed a complaint for cyber libel against two entertainment reporters is a symptom of a pervasive malady that affects more than just the individuals involved. It is a reflection of a deeper crisis within our media ecosystem. These personalities, driven by the insatiable hunger for clicks, have crossed the line from informing to inflaming.

The allure of instant virality has given rise to what can only be described as a clickbait culture — a culture that prioritizes the shock value of headlines over the accuracy and depth of the content that follows. In their pursuit of online clout, some content creators resort to tactics that are not only ethically questionable but also potentially damaging. They craft narratives that are often speculative, sometimes outright false, and almost always designed to provoke.

Such practices are not merely unprofessional; they are destructive. They contribute to the spread of misinformation, encourage polarization, and diminish public trust in the media. The consequences are far-reaching and can have real-world impacts. When public figures are subjected to unfounded accusations or when personal lives are unfairly scrutinized and sensationalized, it is not just reputational damage that ensues. There is a human cost, a toll taken on mental health and personal well-being.

Moreover, the reliance on clickbait undermines the media industry itself. While it may yield short-term gains in terms of traffic and ad revenue, it does so at the expense of credibility and respectability. Audiences may initially be drawn in by the lure of a tantalizing headline, but repeated exposure to content that fails to deliver on its promises leads to disillusionment. Viewers, readers, and followers are not mere metrics; they are discerning individuals capable of recognizing when they are being misled. Once trust is broken, it is not easily mended.

There is an argument to be made for the role of sensationalism in journalism. After all, it is not a new phenomenon; newspapers have long used eye-catching headlines to grab attention. However, there is a line between drawing in readers with compelling storytelling and deceiving them with exaggerated or fabricated claims. Responsible journalism respects this boundary; it understands that the pursuit of truth and the imperative of informing the public are sacrosanct responsibilities.

As consumers of media, we too have a role to play. We must be vigilant in our consumption, skeptical of sources that regularly employ questionable tactics, and supportive of those who strive to uphold journalistic standards. We must demand better, not just for the sake of the showbiz industry or the media industry, but for the health of our public discourse and the integrity of our information ecosystem.

The call for responsible journalism is not a call for censorship or a stifling of creativity. It is a call for a return to the values that underpin the noblest aspirations of the press: honesty, fairness, and a commitment to the truth. Content creators, journalists, and influencers have the power to shape narratives and influence opinions. It is time to wield that power with respect for the audiences we serve and the ethical standards that guide us. We can indeed be followed without resorting to gimmicks that ultimately serve to hurt the very industries we are a part of.


Kuya J Pelayo IV is a Kapampangan broadcast journalist. For comments and suggestions, e-mail at


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