Indonesian media reporting college student Leonardo Dicaprio being killed in traffic accident is peak clickbait

Clickbait in journalism is like a rash that just won’t go away, but rarely have we seen such a tasteless form of the practice as the way these news outlets in Indonesia have attempted to exploit the tragic death of an Indonesian man named Leonardo Dicaprio.

According to reports, a multiple-vehicle collision that took place early on Thursday on the Riau-North Sumatra interstate claimed the lives of three people, including a 19-year-old college student Leonardo Dicaprio.

If journalistic ethics were to be observed in this case, the fact that the victim shared a name with an Oscar-winning Hollywood actor (lowercase “c” in “Dicaprio” aside) should not have made him more of a focus than any of the other victims. But that did not stop Indonesian media outlets from publishing these very misleading headlines:

“Leonardo Dicaprio killed in pile-up accident” (Okezone)

“The facts surrounding Leonardo Dicaprio who was killed in an accident” (Detik)

“Leonardo Dicaprio killed in pile-up in Riau” (Merdeka)

It’s worth noting that the articles above, excluding Detik’s, include a proportionate amount of information about each of the three deceased victims, including Dicaprio, which is further proof that their headlines were blatant clickbait. It certainly seems to have paid off for Okezone, as the article is topping the website’s most popular stories list today.

If these outlets can’t see the problem with such headlines, this tweet, which is a reaction to the stories above going viral online, perfectly sums up why they are highly disrespectful of the victim.

“I feel like a bad person. When I read the headline that Leonardo Dicaprio died, my heart stopped for a moment. When I read the article, it turned out it was another Leo. I was relieved. Wait, why was I relieved? It’s still the case that one person lost his life?” the tweet above reads.

Leonardo Dicaprio is not a common name in Indonesia by any means, so it’s likely that the victim was named after the Hollywood superstar. But articles with similar clickbait headlines by mainstream news outlets have gone viral before, featuring ordinary subjects who share names with famous Indonesians, such as Okezone’s “JK arrested for soccer gambling” (JK being the initials and nickname of Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla) and Merdeka’s “Ariel arrested by police for stealing a jacket worth IDR500 million” (Ariel being the name of the frontman of the popular Indonesian pop rock outfit Noah).

Also read: ‘Cantik’ for clicks: How the Indonesian media is incentivized to keep objectifying female victims

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