Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) after a game at US Bank Stadium. Required Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Now that I’m a blogger, I’ve been told that I need to learn the art of the clickbait headline. For a man who grew up on the journalism compass of the 20th century, the daily newspaper, I’ve always valued a snappy headline as an attention-getting device, but extinguished by the modern age: Never mind-if-it-true, click- mentality first.
In my career, I’ve worked for both the old-school Star Tribune and the newer dotcom startups, and I know the drill from both sides, but don’t like the implications. Journalism can be dying, while clicks have become a form of currency. From the writer’s perspective, it’s “the more they click, the more they love you”. But in reality, they’re more into a tantalizing idea – which, almost by definition, the clickbait headline will never pay off. It’s basically fake journalism’s answer to the fake Tinder ad. Tell a strong story and worry about the truth later.
I’m way above that kind of superficiality, and I’m committed to truthful, hard-reality reporting and opinion. But… hey, it’s 2021… and… maybe it’s time I start playing the game… right?
You’re right. So, in the interest of giving the internet what it wants, here are some Vikings-specific clickbait headlines I’m considering using for my upcoming columns here at PurplePTSD. Read them and cry:
- AARON RODGERS COMES TO MINNESOTA – Why in the name of Brett Favre wouldn’t a self-respecting Viking fan click this headline? You did! Of course he’s coming to Minnesota – on November 21, when the Vikings host the Packers. I probably should have saved that one for November, but then again, will a misleading headline even be necessary during the media pandemic that’s Packers week here in the Twin Cities?
- VIKING LINEMEN FINALLY LEARN TO LEARN BLOCK – This is a concept that seems so tempting yet so far-fetched that I suspect the clicks might not come true. But still…. could it happen – really – right in front of our eyes, right now???
- KIRK COUNSELS COVID-19 FEAR CONFIRMED – as we all watch Kirk take advantage of the potentially better pass-blocking for him, excellent play-calls, his own improved decision-making, and the incredibly gifted skill players around him, we’re slow, steady, start to believe. Kirk Cousins can make a difference in this Vikings football team. I fully expect something to torpedo this whole idea, and if we are torpedoed it will probably be in a very Viking-esque grand, nationally buzzing way. And what could be more buzzing and polarizing than a hot Covid storyline? This clickbait headline would be an excellent way to capitalize on our worst fears.
- ZIMMER: “VINYASA YOGA CHANGED MY LIFE” – Admit it, you’d like to see a lead photo of Coach Zimmer doing downward dog.
- VIKINGS RUMO DER THIRD TEAM IN BEN SIMMONS TRADE TALKS – thank goodness for the Timberwolves, say all Viking fans who don’t pour their emotions over the fate of the local basketball team. The Wolves can always be counted on to make a 1-2 start almost palatable given the years of near-constant losses, poor decision making and now front office dysfunction. For those of us spreading our passion for pro teams here in town, we’re so desperate for a Ben Simmons deal – just to boost our Wolves value, if nothing else – that we’re tempted to clicking anything that even pretends to increase the chances of this long-awaited deal becoming a reality.
- SPIELMAN AGREES HE REALLY DON’T GET THE SALARI CAP – Given the way he’s cornered himself (and the Vikings, and all of us) with his cap management each of the last two seasons, this seems plausible enough to get the clicks. Come to think of it, is it really “clickbait” if it’s true??
- JOE BIDEN DISHES ON HIS YEARS AS TARKENTON BACKUP – who doesn’t love a little lore from a bygone era? Scrambling Fran was my favorite player growing up, but I have no idea who his backups were in his first stint with the Vikes. President Biden seems as plausible as anyone, except Joe was probably way too old for the role in the mid-1960s.
- MORE DETAILS ON ZYGI WILF’S TORRID AFFAIR WITH MILEY CYRUS – The “Wait, What?” factor would undoubtedly arouse much curiosity. In addition, notice the use of the word “More” to imply that the reader has already missed something. Obviously I’m already becoming a clickbait headline master as I write this column!
- JUSTIN JEFFERSON APPEARS IN “DANSING WITH THE STARS” – Justin and The Griddy are so ready for a reality show moment. I know there are thousands of fans who want this to be true. It will be worth the click even if it isn’t.
MINNESOTA SUPER BOWL BOUND –Last, but least – the least believable headline of the bunch. It’s considerably more far-fetched than the Zygi-Miley thing. This would be the clickbait equivalent of Lucy taking the football away. We’ve all experienced the emotional equivalent often enough, and we keep coming back for more. So we’ll definitely all be clicking this headline every time, no matter how obvious it’s just not true.
So yeah, I think I’ve mastered this clickbait thing now. Armed with a whole collection of Viking Clickbait Headlines, I have to decide – do I ignore my moral compass, join the rest of the blogosphere and just go for the clicks? Or do I stick with my guns and tell it like it really is? All you have to do is click on my next byline to find out.