You write a blog. It’s maybe controversial, perhaps funny, certainly topical. It attracts a few more hits than normal, probably because you’ve put ‘marking’, ‘Ofsted’, ‘learning styles’ or ‘Tory’ in the title. It’s deliberate clickbait, and you know it – or you do now – but it’s your clickbait. Hit bait. Count ’em up.
And then comes the message: Hi, can we DM you about something?
Oooh, it’s the T*S! Look, the international education magazine wants to ask little old you about whatever. Could it be the blog? The DM follows. It is about the blog! They want to repost it on their site! World fame, a book deal and a rocketing of Twitter followers awaits.
Your piece is published. There it is, your name, on the site. Take a screenshot and put it on Facebook so mum and dad can see how you’ve now made it. Can you now put ‘T*S columnist’ in your Twitter bio? You’ll probably be offered Deputy Head jobs! Goodbye, classroom teaching; hello, swanky dinners and glitzy presentations. Never mind the cost, this is edu-glamour.
I wrote a piece which was published on T*S a couple of years ago. It was a joke piece, and I should have known better. After a week or so, I found myself telling impressed colleagues that it wasn’t a great blog, that it was a joke, and that I’d have rather they’d publish one of my half-decent pieces about actual important stuff. Alas.
They, our pearly resource’d, Monopoly emperors, who monetise our thoughts under contentious, red-top headlines, are not out to share great ideas. Do not be fooled. If your piece is clickable beware their razzle-dazzle, inky jaws.
Now, I am not of the opinion that just because the vast majority of what is published on the T*S is total crap, they therefore must have no interest in what actually happens in classrooms and are only in the game for the hits, baby. But if I were to be of this opinion I might point to the huge number of poorly written, outrageously headlined and frankly stupid articles which appear just as furore over the last suspiciously oppositional toilet-read has died down.
There are of course great pieces on there, but given the amount published one would expect this due to the sheer weight of numbers. A recent piece from Nick Rose, is fantastic, as is the output of the wonderful Michael Tidd. However, the amount of articles citing nothing but the title’s neon straw-man as evidence is so widespread that I simply do not have the time to parody them any more. (By the way, in order to save you some time from commenting on this, yes, that final point was, of course, facetious).
Yeah, more people might read your piece, and yeah, your gran is going to frame it having accidentally signed up to a year’s subscription. But ask yourself this: why do they want you to write for them? There are plenty of decent publications out there which, whilst having to gain attention because, y’know, readers, manage to do so with a degree of honesty. Every publisher has to make money, but not all do this with such apparent click-mongering. Teachers and bloggers: don’t write for the T*S.
I am aware this blog is also click-bait. Hopefully The Guardian will pick it up.