People for the Ethical Treatment of Linkbait (by Jackson West)

So I’m paging through my feed reader a little groggy this morning, having decided to work from home and rocking in my chair to my current jam and I find Alex Balk over at the Awl doing his “descriptive title and terse link to a British tabloid” thing. Looking for something heart lifting a la Christian the Lion, naturally I click through only to have Sir Harry Flashman‘s cousin staring right back at me from some parkway in Clacton on Sea.

Turns out the handsome devil had likely been the subject of an overnight cathunt involving men armed with tranquilizers and four helicopters searching for the “Mystery Lion of Essex” after a couple turned in a blurry, pixelated photo of a dashing vagabond staring them down from across a field thinking somehow a panthera leo had escaped from a local pride residing in a nearby pensioner’s garden or something? Regardless, the Daily Mail was on it.

The striking resemblance led to a reblog, because Tumblr. Shortly thereafter, however, Mike posts a quote from a rant on the Daily Mail’s persistent racism and generally hyper-reactionary politics. Which, okay, I’ll fess up, I find the incredibly retrograde and shameless bigotry of the typical British tabloid sort of charming, probably in the way people from the UK must chuckle at our own crazy fundies and their missives from, say, the Cato Institute, the Center for American Progress or, like, David Brooks.

The argument here is that the Daily Mail isn’t typical, that it is actively harmful, and by bringing it into the “link economy” or whatever, even for “harmless” stories, just supports the more sinister editorial goals. Or, as Mike puts it in terms colonials can understand, “Imagine the KKK having a really successful kitten blog.” (I just looked up “KKKittens.tumblr.com” and no, it’s not available. They really need to get their social media machine working if they don’t want to miss the opportunities presented by the conversational marketing revolution. Though the look of their hats suggests they’re committed to cultivating the lead funnel model. But I digress!)

I then went and looked for alternate coverage because lord knows I wasn’t raised in a family that buys Chilean grapes, so why would I link to National Front fronts? The Beeb had the necessary photo of the neighborhood terror in question, but trapped in video amber. The Telegraph, however, simply grabbed some file photo of any old ginger tom. Because apparently to the photo editor at the Telegraph thinks all Maine Coons look the same? Ugh. Breedist.

Jokes aside, I will actually stop linking to the Daily Mail because Mike has a point. Not that it’s a big issue for me, random Tumblogger, but for editors with more of a firehose and less of an eye dropper of traffic to direct (and politics that skew to the left of Eric Clapton) it might be a consideration. I have totally not linked to websites and sourced stories from elsewhere just because I didn’t particularly like the politics or the personalities involved of the publication where I found it! Maybe that’s mean, but encouraging assholes seems the meaner thing in the long run, no?

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