Project Idea: Scoring Clickbait to Improve Journalism

Some disinformation travels by way of sensationalized headlines. Sometimes it’s an Outbrain “You won’t believe what happens next” but even reputable outlets stretch the article’s claims to a more click-worthy title.

By allowing working journalists to score the clickbaitiness of a headline relative to the article’s finding, we can get a sense of which scoops are genuinely interesting and which are viral because they’re overstated.

Such a system could expand over time to incorporate more norms than simply honest headlines like well supported conclusions and clear sourcing.

A clear view of which individuals and artifacts are trustworthy could inform both readers and amplification systems – platforms may not wish to knowingly amplify news reports widely distrusted by peers. And, within peer groups, an incentive for honest labelling of stories can promote good behavior.