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Just Got Trumped Again

There's a reason my dog Tucker looks concerned. He just read the title of a Facebook post and was worried that some catastrophic event just happened to the world.

Notice I used the word "just"? That little word has been appearing a lot in headlines and news feeds since the last national elections almost a year ago. Sometimes it's used legitimately, but far too often it's a suckering job to get you to click. Did you know that all you have to do is click a link and you've likely put money into someone's pocket? Those linked pages get a little kickback from advertisers for every click, whether you actually read the article or click on the advertisement. It's the presentation of the ad that counts. Those blaring, scary headlines are often only there to excite you into clicking.

Just for fun a few weeks ago (used it again), I clicked on one of these "news" sites. The website was using a title that was a knockoff of a real news organization's name, so that if you don't read closely, you'll think you're getting real news. The webpage that loaded was covered with links to individual news and political stories - and every one had the magic word "just" in its title. Congress just did this. The President just did that. And Hillary just continued to do what she does.

Please - if you see something with "just" in the title - don't click. Delete the post and block the posting site. (Except, of course, for this post.) The world will be a better place if you do.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention another word used for exactly the same reason, by both ripoffs and the legitimate news media: Trump. The current political situation in Washington is dominating the twenty-four hour news cycle with outrage. Just (used it again) slap the word Trump in your headline, whether that's the subject of your article or not. Trump supporters will be sure to click to be current on what the fake news is saying about their hero, the savior of our nation, in their view. At the same time, Trump detractors will click to see what outrageous thing he's done today, in their view. And the advertisers don't care. They just want you to see their advertising. (Used it again.)

There's been a lot of concern in the publishing industry the last few months, but not due to the overuse and abuse of the word "just". The publishing world's issue is that they can't get anyone's attention right now. With politics so dominating the media - even the late night TV show hosts are caught up in it - they can't promote books or authors. Used to be it was easy to book a slot for a bestselling author to appear on the morning shows or late night to talk about themselves and their latest blockbuster. Now such interviews are booked but then often bumped by the latest story of outrage coming out of Washington.

As a result, book sales are down. People are too busy looking at their phones to read books. And debut authors are having trouble getting buyers' attention. And so they're also having difficulty getting literary agents to look at their work, since the big publishers have circled their wagons around the big name authors that they so cherish.

Just makes me feel trumped.