Sex with a horse: a news consultant’s dream story

Via Romenesko,

This story was the most-clicked article on the Seattle Times Website in 2005. (Other stories about the man who died during sex with a horse made the paper’s top-10 list.) “A case can be made that the articles on horse sex are the most widely read material this paper has published in its 109-year history,” writes Danny Westneat. “I don’t know whether to ignore this alarming factoid or to embrace it.”
This is the stuff that consultants dream about — and why the news is generally tilted towards the bizarre and unusual. For all the talk about decency and such, the truth is that people WILL turn to this kind of story simply because it’s so odd. Aberration IS one of the definitions of news, after all.

The problem, of course, is when this type of “evidence” is used to drive circulation or viewer strategy. That’s when we cross the line into tabloid sensationalism, because aberration ceases to be aberration when it’s the norm.

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