The Onion satirized CNN for leading its website with coverage of the Miley Cyrus twerking debacle by posting a fictional letter from Meredith Artley, the managing editor of the network's news website. Artley is known in Los Angeles as the former managing editor in charge of the LA Times website. The letter ginned up by The Onion "confesses" that CNN used the Cyrus incident on the Video Music Awards as a crass tactic to score some web clicks. This may be the best skewer you have ever read of the web strategy that more and more media outlets use.
So, you may ask, why was this morning’s top story, a spot usually given to the most important foreign or domestic news of the day, headlined “Miley Cyrus Did What???” and accompanied by the subhead “Twerks, stuns at VMAs”?
It’s a good question. And the answer is pretty simple. It was an attempt to get you to click on CNN.com so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue.
There was nothing, and I mean nothing, about that story that related to the important news of the day, the chronicling of significant human events, or the idea that journalism itself can be a force for positive change in the world. For Christ’s sake, there was an accompanying story with the headline “Miley’s Shocking Moves.” In fact, putting that story front and center was actually doing, if anything, a disservice to the public. And come to think of it, probably a disservice to the hundreds of thousands of people dying in Syria, those suffering from the current unrest in Egypt, or, hell, even people who just wanted to read about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
But boy oh boy did it get us some web traffic. Which is why I, Meredith Artley, managing editor of CNN.com, put the story in our top spot.
Artley took to Twitter to contain the damage. "To clarify, I did not write this," she posted, including a link to The Onion story. "But I accept all compliments and deny all accusations. Tx for the page views." She confirmed, however, that CNN did put Cyrus atop the web home page.