Emotional Content Wins-Or Does It?

by admin on June 24, 2013 · 2 comments

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“If You’re Not Feeling it, Don’t Write it” versus “Emotion gets views and dictators win elections. It doesn’t make either right.”

Caroline O’Donovan of The Neiman Journalism Lab offers what could possibly be one of the most insightful articles on social media; an overview of Upworthy.

Upworthy is, “A social packaging and not-quite-news site that has become remarkably successful at making “meaningful content” go viral.”

With ten million monthly uniques, Upworthy has earned the right to offer the rest of us lessons on creating better content.

Editorial director Sara Critchfield, “Of the things we curate at Upworthy, I think our editorial staff is what we pride ourselves the most on curating. We really focus on regular people. We reject the idea that the media elite or people who have been trained in a certain way somehow have the monopoly on editorial judgment, what matters or should matter. So we focus almost exclusively on hiring non-professionally trained writers,” she says. “

“I tell my writers, ‘If you’re not feeling it, don’t write it.’,” says Critchfield. “We don’t really force people, we don’t let an editorial calendar dictate what we do. There will be big current events, and if someone on staff feels really passionate about it, then we cover it. And if there aren’t, then we don’t.”

See source below-worth the read.

My thoughts—bull-hockey (There, is that emotional enough for you?)

I love disruption and the change new media brings to our world and I embrace emotional content and journalism that is unafraid to bring feelings to a larger platform, so I like the premise of Upworthy.

I also understand the value of a video of a dying cancer patient (covered in the article). Thanks to Upworthy for bringing it to our attention.

But the overall topic of “emotion” curated by non-journalists creates real issues.

There are tons of people who are emotionally charged about a subject and are dead wrong in their observations and actions. They can be well educated and experienced in their fields yet ideologically driven. At times they can do great harm.

It takes experienced journalists and people dedicated to truth-telling and fact checking to curate responsible content.

The “old school” journalists I came up with trusted no one. They understood that there are all sorts of people who bring passion and emotion to an issue AND backed up their observations with data but were completely wrong in their conclusions.

They believed that  everyone has an agenda and many were more than willing to bend the rules to make a point. All attended press conferences given by politicians, academics and advocates yet few ever get written up or reported because professional journalists can see right through self-serving observations.

There is a ton of fraud on the internet; intellectually driven but harmful to our society. It may not be obvious racism or sexism that we can easily dismiss.

Like it or not, we are in great need of experienced, informed people who ask  hard questions and demand data to support conclusions. I agree with Upworthy, they don’t have to be trained journalists, but they have to very good to tell crap from honest assessments.

Emotion gets the views and dictators win elections:

OK, emotion gets views and dictators win elections. It doesn’t make either right.

I love emotion but strong feelings can mask disastrous conclusions (i.e., Hitler). We need people who can tell the difference.

Best, Len

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Source: http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/06/if-youre-not-feeling-it-dont-write-it-upworthys-social-success-depends-on-gut-checking-regular-people/








Tyler Hayes June 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm

This quote from Luke Sullivan, on advertising, comes to mind:

“To those who defend the campaign based on sales, I ask, would you also spit on the table to get my attention? It would work, but would you?”

^^ from Hey Whipple, Squeeze This

Or a more elegant take from Norman Berry, who was a creative director at Ogilvy & Mather:

“I’m appalled by those who [judge] advertising exclusively on the basis of sales. That isn’t enough. Of course, advertising must sell. By any definition it is lousy advertising if it doesn’t. But if sales are achieved with work which is in bad taste or is intellectual garbage, it shouldn’t be applauded no matter how much it sells. Offensive, dull, abrasive, stupid advertising is bad for the entire industry and bad for business as a whole. It is why the public perception of advertising is going down in this country.”

admin June 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

Hi Tyler: Agreed. The question, does it take trained people to tell the difference between attention getting and something that is truly newsworthy and factual? Best, Len.

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