“Link Bait” and the Voice

Link Bait“:

A headline or title that attracts a high volume of online links. Applies particularly to bloggers hoping to land on the homepage of Digg or Reddit, or anyone hoping that their post will go viral on Twitter. (definition from urbandictionary.com)

Typically, link bait is an inflammatory title that doesn’t capture the substance of the article accurately. So, for example, someone might provocatively entitle a blog post about a new Bible translation “Christ missing from new Bible translation!” I mean, isn’t that much more likely to get you to click than, “New Bible Aims At ‘Own It But Haven’t Read It’ Demo“?

You may hereby consider yourself warned that recent media coverage of The Voice New Testament is peppered with link bait and other provocative assertions that will incite passion, and that lack substance.

Various media outlets have been reporting on The Voice Bible recently, especially its handling of certain New Testament words.

This problem, of course, is that it is quite easy to create a stir by misleading people about the contents of a Bible translation.

CNN’s blog entry includes statements such as:

Capes’ team decided not to include the words “angel and “apostle” in his translation.

Ok, that’s not so bad. But how about this?

They also left out the word “Christ” from the translation. No Christ in the Bible? Click on the video to hear why.

And, thus we come back to “link bait.”

In order to be responsible journalism, this sentence should have put “Christ” in quotation marks in the second sentence.

Further, the translation doesn’t take Christ out of the Bible, as the question leads you to conclude. The translators decided that “Christ” shouldn’t be the only non-translated word in the whole text, and chose “anointed one” or “liberating king” so that people would know what the word actually means.

The CNN article also does its CNN thing by linking a totally unrelated commentary piece, written a couple months ago, entitled, “My Take: Stop Sugar Coating the Bible.” If you read CNN on a mobile device, these interspersed links are difficult to pick out from the text. There is an implicit commentary created by putting the irrelevant sentence, “My Take: Stop Sugar Coating the Bible” in the middle of a piece about a Bible translation that does not, in fact, sugar coat the Bible as the linked piece complains of.

USA Today seems to have gotten ball rolling with its rendition of the story. The story begins:

The name Jesus Christ doesn’t appear in The Voice, a new translation of the Bible.

It takes a couple sentences to get around to telling folks that they translated Christ differently. In the fourth paragraph, they let you know that the translators didn’t include “the name Jesus Christ” because they want readers to recognize that there is no “name” “Jesus Christ” but rather a title, Anointed One, telling you about the one named Jesus.

If you’re dying to learn more, CNN has a video entitled, “Christ Missing from New Bible.” Consider yourself baited:

13 thoughts on ““Link Bait” and the Voice”

  1. As someone who works in marketing and development, I am well aware of the “tools/tactics of the trade” and I have to admit, I squirm at the misuse of language for the purpose of traffic. I understand the results they are going for but it doesn’t often translate to sales nor exposure–at least not the kind you’re looking for. P.T. Barnum may have said there is no such thing as bad publicity but he didn’t have to live in a culture that typically trades on misinformation for profit.

    Predictably there will be someone from my industry who will chime in to say, “Relax, we all know the rules, you can’t believe half of what you see…who is it hurting really–caveat emptor, dude!” Unfortunately what that reveals (at best) is an adherence to group-think and a lack of creativity and (at worst) an addiction to half-truths that will become a common cultural norm if it hasn’t already.

    I predict that in a marketplace that utilizes misinformation as a method, there will arise the opportunity for truthful claims and clarity. I think consumers are hungry for that and this post just reinforces that to me. Sites that get more creative and don’t rely on teasers and misleading statements will actually stand out when surrounded by all the marketing puffery that is S.O.P. for today’s marketing efforts.

    Let’s hear it for an honest living.

  2. Interesting that something that actually makes more sense of the text and the story and is arguably a better thing to do causes controversy.

    Thanks for cutting through to the heart of it.

  3. Well, that is terrible how they “bait.” The golden rule is to find out for onesself and not to believe for a fact everything you read in magazines and newspapers. Always, if at all possible, go to the source. I have read excepts from “the Voice” and like it very much. And furthermore Jesus’ Name is NOT “Jesus Christ” as many people think. His name is Jesus actually in the Hebrew “Yeshua” and Christ is His title, the anointed one from God, which tells one much more. I believe they called him Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the son of Joseph the carpenter’s son. Well, I think that the “Voice” is one of the translations of the bible I will want for my library and yes to read and mediate upon so that I may KNOW HIM more! Good article.

    In His grace,

    God’s ragamuffin dotty b.

  4. A few more people need to read Proverbs 18:17 and integrate it into their thinking. I agree that the media misrepresents. But a lot of people seem eager to fall for it.

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