In the proliferated age of technologies, the field of journalism has been faced with several challenges that have inevitably pushed journalism practice to unpreceded heights. Overtly, journalists have resorted to various strategies to compete with various media platforms such as social media and other citizen journalistic strategies. Journalists have also resorted to the use of advertising/strategic communication methods to spice up their news stories and attract a large following. Particularly, journalists now use clickbait styles to draw more readership of their own stories. While this has been perceived as a pitfall for journalism, others have argued in favor of these strategies suggesting that they have no effect on the credibility of the media and journalism at large. This experimental study, therefore, set out to understand how the audience perceives clickbait-style headlines in relations to media credibility. Particularly, the study examined whether the Zambian and Tanzanian online news consumers observe the same distinction in the credibility of news content alleged to exist between clickbait and traditional news reporting, and whether perceptions of clickbait headlines lead to lower credibility for news articles. The findings suggest strong statistical evidence that clickbait headlines pose negatives effects on the perceptions of journalistic credibility in Zambia and Tanzania.
Key words: Journalism credibility, clickbait, news wire-copying, online news consumers, Zambia, Tanzania.
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