More “here’s how” and “here’s what” from HuffPo and real journalism

Yes, all four of HuffPo’s “personal” pieces today are of the “here’s what” or “here’s how” genre:

But wait! There’s more, on the very same page:

As I’ve written before, this new “hey, dumb-ass, here’s everything you need to know” trope has spread to other papers, including the New York Times (from today’s issue):

Yesterday’s Washington Post:

And from the January 17 Los Angeles Times:

What i want to know is which journalistic Grand Poo-Bah decided that this was the way to pique readers’ interest. Someone started this execrable trend, and they should be roundly trounced.

Don’t bother defending this practice, as it’s indefensible.

26 Comments

  1. Mike Mayer
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    A headline writer decided to include “Here’s what happened” in a headline. You won’t believe what happened next.

    • Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Nicely done!

    • GBJames
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      LOL

    • Posted February 27, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      When a headline writer told me “You won’t believe what happened next,” I asked what happened next. You won’t believe what happened next next. 😛

    • Taz
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Are you planning to write a “Here’s what happened” article? Here’s what you need to know.

    • Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Here are the 11 most amazing thing that happened next!

      • rickflick
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

        Actually 12 things – counting the list itself!

  2. John Donohue
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Brought to you by the creators of “Top Ten” Reasons/Things/Errors/Don’ts.

  3. John Donohue
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    {aside}
    Professor Coyne, suggest you desist from reading HuffPo on the Left Bank. Suggest baguette, jambon, Brie St. Angel, and a liter of red on the banks of the Seine. Blood pressure better that way.
    {end aside}

    • Posted February 27, 2020 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      I am fine; the HuffPost doesn’t anger me, it just amuses me in a destructive sort of way. I won’t be happy until it fails!

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I just noticed a tactic of the use of “here’s” : it suggests that it’s _everything_ that anyone would _ever_ need to know – the Wikipedia of news articles for that topic – the authority on the topic – by cheap use of a mundane word’s contraction.

  5. Posted February 27, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I believe this execrable trend was started by Upworthy.

  6. Steve Cameron
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    The New York Times Daily podcast has had a “Here’s what else you need to know today” segment at the end of every episode since it’s launch. I don’t think that was the beginning of that trend, but it may have been for the New York Times.

  7. Posted February 27, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps you should try it for your next Paris trip report:

    “Eating Well in Paris: Here’s How It’s Done”

  8. Steve Cameron
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Since I read this I can’t stop thinking about the piece on the baby with no anus. It almost makes me want to visit the PuffHo…

    Actually, it’s probably better as a mysterious headline.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      It seems to suggest a valuable clue to the location of the asshole gene.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      So sorry to hear about the poor baby sans anus. Maybe Fox News could donate one, since it seems to have plenty to spare.

      • XCellken
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        Nobody at Faux News has an anus. Why do you think they are all so full of it ?

        • Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          I thought they often had them at the wrong end!

          Remember (as this is a biology site!) that some organisms do share the same opening … an evolutionary “advantage” for us that I am glad to have …

  9. Simon Hayward
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    My own annoying article of the day is this one: https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/27/health/lsd-overdoses-case-studies-wellness/index.html

    Which tells of a woman ingesting 55mg of LSD (apparently thinking it was cocaine) and beyond some vomiting suffered no I’ll effects and was able to kick her opiate habit. It then goes on to say that LSD is relatively non-toxic and that the lethal dose is around 14mg. So I’m left wondering what quantity is wrong.

    The state of science journalism makes me shudder.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      The root of the West African Iboga plant has psychedelic properties and has been used as a (mostly black-market) treatment for opiate addiction — ever since a group of Brit junkies stumbled upon its use in the early 1960s.

      In Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, Hunter Thompson (who had read about Ibogaine in a pharmacological journal) wrote a spoof about Maine senator (and then-Democratic presidential campaign frontrunner) Edmund Muskie having partaken of it.

  10. Posted February 27, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Stupid, formulaic headlines annoy prominent evolutionary biologist. Here’s how. 😉

  11. eric
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    What i want to know is which journalistic Grand Poo-Bah decided that this was the way to pique readers’ interest

    I expect it went the other way around. The grand poo-bah’s noticed that such titles lead to more readership, and jumped on the bandwagon.

  12. rickflick
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Here’s what I think about HuffPo: Echt!
    And here’s how I deal with it: Acht!

  13. g.
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    “In a world that worships facts and data, this is what I learned fighting for awareness of the lived experience.”
    “(Ten reasons) why my anecdote is more relevant to humankind than your data.”


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