Appreciate Listicles, Appreciate this Meme

This week’s newstrack follows yet another exhausting 180 in global politics. British Prime Minister Theresa May will hold an election in seven weeks. To Americans, that sounds crazy. Our president can’t randomly decide when he or she should run for reelection. Thankfully, BuzzFeed brought in Hannah Jewell, a staff reporter based in London, to give us befuddled Yankees an explanation.

The result is an explanatory piece disguised as a listicle, much like the Gibraltar article I looked at a few weeks ago. It’s called Hello Americans, Here’s Why The UK Is Having YET ANOTHER Election!”

The Gibraltar article and this one have a lot in common. They’re both works of substance disguised as clickbait (does that just make them good clickbait?). They’re both funny and easy to understand. This election article, though, is about something happening right now–not a history lesson.

Jewell’s article is structured like the Gibraltar one, simple sentences followed by funny pictures. After announcing the crazy news that Britain might have yet another political shakeup, she represents the situation with this fun Elmo meme:

elmo fire

After that, she writes, “You may feel as if you have the monopoly on crazy news, America, but it actually turns out we are ALL ON FIRE AT THE SAME TIME. (It’s part of our special relationship.)” This is part of the article’s attempt to cater to confused Americans.

Although Jewell uses humor and silly pictures to liven up her writing, this is not The Onion. She has some real information to get across, and as the listicle progresses, she does a good job of it. Once she’s through describing former British PM David Cameron as “a man known throughout the land for his beautiful moon face and sad, empty eyes,” she launches into detailed political analysis. PM May is trying to strengthen her parliamentary majority with this election, potentially making the Brexit negotiation process a whole lot easier for her and her Conservative party.

Clinging to old formats can only hurt news organizations, and BuzzFeed News’ listicles continue to be funnier and more accessible than any explanatory piece a legacy paper might produce. In one article, Jewell jokingly implies that David Cameron had a “fuck it” (that’s a quote from the article) attitude towards the Brexit referendum and Theresa May said “YOLO, bitches!” when deciding to hold an election. Whatever your attitude towards profanity, it certainly gets the message across in an understandable and memorable way.

Some of my fellow journalism students might call me a blasphemer for this, but hey, let’s write more funny listicles!


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