A lesson in clickbait

Readers of News Crap Australia’s daily turdbloid in Brisbane, The Courier-Mail, will be aware of how many stories it runs on supposed scandals and hijinks among students, teachers, or even parents linked to local private schools. Or “elite private schools” at it invariably describes them.

Some of the few remaining staff members at the paper’s Bowen Hills HQ have told our MGH researchers that it is a tactic to boost sales and circulation based on the thinking that people of above-average income will shell out for a hard copy of the paper or an online subscription if they think there’s a juicy story about the school their offspring attend or plan to attend.

Sounds pretty desperate stuff to us. “Blatant clickbait” might be a more apt description.

The validity of that description is reinforced by an online Courier-Mail story this week that promised to dish the dirt to readers on a string of “ex-private school students” who had traded class rooms for court rooms”. (main picture)

The item consisted of a series of court stories detailing the judicial decisions handed out to 12 “former private school students” as well as the “shocking circumstances” that led to their crimes.

“A life of private education was not enough to deter this list of old boys and girls from crime and the court system,” the Courier story told readers.

“Here are some of the shocking stories of how they descended from pupils at elite schools to criminals in our courts,” it said before leading off with the tale of a 25-year-old man – reported to be a “former Villanova College Coorparoo student” – who pleaded guilty to 23 drug charges.

Then followed details of a 47-year-old woman who “according to social media attended girls-only St Mary’s College in Ipswich” who was charged with theft.

After her came an “ex-Churchie schoolboy” caught with a stash of the drug ice. For out-of-towners, “Churchie” refers to the Church of England Grammar School. Oh, and the ex-schoolboy was 30 years old.

You probably get the drift by now. The ex-students from elite private schools were hardly just out of uniform. Most were at least well into their 20s with the closest to school age being 18.

One story involved a “Brisbane Girls Grammar School Old Girl” who received a three-month suspended jail sentence after crashing her car while drink driving. She was 52 so her school days most likely ended in the late-1980s.

By the way, her case was resolved in a Brisbane court in November last year, and there was nothing really fresh or timely about many of the other stories that made up the Courier’s report.

Clickbait? We reckon that’s being charitable as a description for the story. Very charitable.

An embarrassing heap of cobbled-together shit, is perhaps more accurate.

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Not really a media blunder as such but the MGH did have a chuckle when Channel 9’s Sydney news the other night described some activity on the international space station as “ground-breaking”.

We’re no experts but we suspect any endeavour in space travel that ends up breaking ground is a fairly undesirable prospect for all concerned.