After a few “satirical” stories went viral in 2013, you could almost see the wheels turning in the minds of those looking for an easy ride to cheap back-links and quick cash via website advertising: churn out bad more satire in hopes of striking pay dirt with one of these viral stories.
And as we turned the corner into 2014, the avalanche of third-rate satire has indeed begun. New “satirical” websites are plaguing the landscape using shoddy “humor” pieces as a facade to making a few easy bucks. While The Onion is generally respected for its witty satirical stories, and The Daily Currant probably comes in a notch below it, a new breed of websites have arrived on the scene with satire that’s just…well, not funny or well-written.
In just the past six months, viral stories have come from sites such as National Report, Newslo, CreamBMPDaily, Lightly Braised Turnip, Call the Cops, The Duffel Blog, Free Wood Post, and Mediamass.
Whenever one of these “satire” sites scores big with a viral story, fact checkers, and mainstream news sites take the bait and link to them as they fall over each other in attempts to “debunk” the story. This, however, is precisely what these poorly-written sites want: free back-links from respected websites.
As just a random example, see how News 7 in Denver recently gave Newslo a free back-link as they debunked a weak satire piece on Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s “arrest” for DUI.
So to my journalist brethren, I implore you: Stop linking to bad satire. When debunking one of these viral “satirical” stories, just name the website without giving them a freebie back-link, which only increases their popularity.
Better yet, go back and remove all of the back-links you’ve already handed out like Halloween candy to these charlatans of satire.
Including back-links to bad satire in attempts to “debunk” it will only encourage and proliferate more of this garbage. I, like my journalist and blogging peers, have made this mistake in the past, but I refuse to let it happen as I go forward. As The Who so eloquently stated way back in 1971…
“I’ll get on my knees and pray…We don’t get fooled again!”