I could not agree more. Look at the titles of my two most popular posts. Both have “Death” in the title. Both also have grabby cover photos filled with alarming colors (red and yellow). I trust that I have produced quality content, but as you say, to compete in this media-saturated landscape, you must find a way to rise above the noise, and sometimes those ways are not necessarily by having the best content, but rather by grabbing attention with something having nothing to do with the objective value of the piece.
This is why I love the New York Times’ “truth” campaign. Hopefully, that will help instill the understanding within people of just how vital truth is, especially in this era of “alternative facts”, etc.