The Blazer's Edge Podcast is on the air! This week Phil Naessens of the Phil Naessens Show and I discuss the Portland Trail Blazers' recently-completed road trip, which of the teams the Blazers faced were really any good, East Coast media style vs. West Coast, and the abject horror that is James Harden and whether we'd want him near our teams under any circumstances. (Carmelo Anthony too!)
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A topic arises periodically which we've addressed before in informal fashion. I'm going to elaborate on it here more formally so the information is out there, we're all on the same page, and when somebody asks you can just link them to this article.
Why don't you label podcasts with "podcast" in the headline? I don't want to listen to them and I feel cheated when I'm interested in a subject and it turns out to be audio.
The reasons for this are simple:
1. Our job is to write the best, clearest headlines possible. We have 50 characters or less to accomplish that. Putting in "Podcast:" takes up about 20% of that headline space. This isn't Twitter. It's an internationally-read source of news and information. Headlines have to look professional, inform, and read with clarity. It's hard enough to write that kind of headline as it is without limiting our choices further.
Someone will object, "You use the heading 'Video:' all the time!" We do. Not only is it shorter, video posts are different animals altogether. Their subjects are singular and self-explanatory. Videos only endure for a brief time; people want to see them that night, then it's over. Video headlines don't have to convey deeper meaning or last for days like other headlines do.
"Video: Damian Lillard Hits Game-Winning Three!" explains everything you need to know about that post. "Podcast: Damian Lillard Hits Game-Winning Three!" explains nothing. A podcast is far more akin to a Mailbag post than a video post. Headlines have to be broader and contain more nuanced explanations. That requires more characters.
2. Some have referred to the lack of "podcast" in the headline as "click-baiting". Wikipedia describes clickbait so:
Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the "curiosity gap", providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content
There's not a hint of a shadow of that in our podcast headlines. If you see a subject in that headline it's covered in the podcast as well as our talent permits and as thoroughly as the medium allows. We don't sensationalize. We don't ask for or anticipate greater social media coverage on podcast posts. If there's a "curiosity gap" we do our damnedest to fill it. Ironically enough, this is why we don't want to use headline space for labels like "podcast" because it'd force us to shorthand the actual subject, leading to less precise headline descriptions.
Some people don't want to listen to podcasts, refuse to do so, etc. I get it. I support that choice. But that personal preference/stance doesn't change an otherwise good headline into a clickbait headline.
3. Headlines do two things: inform and interest. The critique that amazes me most is, "I'm really interested in the subject you mentioned in the headline but I don't listen to podcasts!" I'm not sure what we're supposed to do...make our podcast subjects less interesting so nobody gets disappointed? If you're interested in the topic, the headline has done its job. Surely listening to the podcast would be a better remedy than nerfing our topics and the way we describe them.
Either way, I don't get the approach of, "I don't listen to your product. I'll never listen to your product. So please write your headline for me, specifically." I respect the right to not listen to podcasts but that shouldn't interfere with our ability to talk to and entice the people who do want to listen. Headlines aren't just for the people here, let alone the subset who are anti-podcasting. They're for people all across the interwebs who might be curious about a given topic, folks who might drop by and see a chance to participate. When you click on a headline and find it's a podcast, that post isn't just about you or your preferences, it's about connecting with thousands of other people. We publish 40 posts a week. Two of those are podcasts. The no-podcast-ever crowd gets satisfied 38 times over. Is a click or two really that onerous in support of readers--current and potential--who might like podcasts too?
That's a lot of words to explain that podcast headlines are just headlines and that's how they'll remain. I'm not asking anyone to change their views on podcasts. I'm asking people to realize that the entire site can't be all about them or their views. We're pretty generous with the amount of time, talent, and passion we pour into this site for you. I don't think it's out of line to ask you to be just a little generous with us and fellow readers in this way.
Now...on with the show!