The Daily Telegraph

The demon of clickbait: Daily Telegraph sensationalizes UK's 'boom' in exorcisms 

The demon of clickbait: Daily Telegraph sensationalizes UK's 'boom' in exorcisms 

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

A hackneyed phrase, I admit. But the question it poses is relevant to several important questions in the newspaper business.

What comes first, advertising or content?

Do you tailor your content to generate the greatest number of readers (or "hits" or "clicks" on-line), or do you generate content that attracts readers seeking balanced reporting?

Do you seek advertisers first, or readers whom advertisers seek to reach?

This question loomed large in my mind as I read a recent article in The Daily Telegraph entitled “'Astonishing' rise in demand for exorcisms putting mental health at risk, report finds.” In this story, the Telegraph has chosen to sensationalize an item rather than report faithfully.

The title of the piece recycles the war between science and religion so beloved by bores. Not hirsute, feral pigs, mind you, but the dreary sort of folk one comes across in the chattering classes.

The suggestion raised in the title is softened slightly by the lede -- moving the problem from the war between science and religion to the war between science and the religion of immigrants. It states:

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Grating Eggs-pectations? Omission of 'Easter' nod roils world press, British prime minister

Grating Eggs-pectations? Omission of 'Easter' nod roils world press, British prime minister

Perhaps the greatest celebration of the Christian calendar is Easter, the commemoration of Christ's resurrection. Though not specified by that name in the Bible, the fact that Jesus rose on the third day, as promised, is of great comfort and inspiration to believers around the globe.

The resurrection, and not the advent, is what many believers would assert distinguishes Christian faith from other world religions.

Some traditions that have attached themselves to Easter are, one could say, rather extraneous to the biblical narrative. There's no scriptural mention of bunny rabbits or eggs of any sort in connection with the resurrection or with the early church, for that matter. But never mind: such elements of the celebration are enjoyed by many children in many lands.

Youngsters in England's fair and pleasant land, as William Blake called it, were in peril of hunting for special Easter eggs -- chocolate candies, actually -- without knowing that this was Easter.

Forget the calendar, it's the branding that matters. Calling it "Cadbury's Great British Egg Hunt," without the E-word, was this side of blasphemy.

Or so saith the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. John Sentamu, the Church of England's Archbishop of York and Primate of All England, second in rank behind the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Justin Welby.

Sentamu's complaint was made via Britain's Daily Telegraph, but it jumped the pond rapidly, gaining space in The New York Times, no less:

[Sentamu] lamented that omitting an explicit Easter reference was akin to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, a Quaker who founded the company, which initially sold cocoa and drinking chocolate, in Birmingham in 1824.

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