In Build Your Anime Blog, I shared Otaku Journalist’s most popular posts of all time. I told readers each of these posts were successful for two reasons:
- It was on a topic people were already discussing.
- It included original material you can’t easily find elsewhere.
Now, I think there may have been a third reason these posts did well. They each elicited an emotional response.
I was thinking about it this weekend when a story I wrote suddenly got lots of attention. My article was about an organization that Photoshopped pictures of female videogame characters. It’s definitely one of my ConAir stories, as Helen would say. I wrote it on a Thursday and didn’t think about it until Saturday, when lots of people began commenting on my article and sending me tweets and email. Most of these comments had one thing in common—people were angry.
It turned out my colleague, Erik Kain, wrote a follow-up story on the subject that linked to mine and revitalized the topic. Though my story was neutral, many people reached out to me taking offense at my title’s assertion that overweight women can “look great.”
It sucks that the catalyst was how women’s bodies should or shouldn’t look, but what’s incredible about this story is that it inspired people to take action. They didn’t just passively read it, they shared it on social media and reached out to me with their opinions. Their enthusiasm made this my most popular story for July. I pessimistically told my Forbes mentor, Susannah Breslin, that now that I write for hits, this told me I could make more money inciting anger than dispensing information. Her response snapped me out of it:
People come to the news each morning to feel. They want to be uplifted, reassured, and yes, sometimes righteously enraged. But all the best journalism calls us to action. Good blog posts inspire us to comment, and maybe write follow up posts of our own. For example, when I read a particularly striking review from Bobduh or Josei Next Door, it inspires me to try a new anime.
In the future, I’d like to avoid articles that make people angry, but even that can have its place. In the New York Times, an exposé of nail salons in New York inspired hundreds to boycott manicures and pressured the governor into ordering an emergency measure. It was a well-reported story that made people shocked and angry—but for a very good reason.
An article that makes people emotional can be a very positive thing. People come to the news not only to be informed, but to take away a feeling with that new knowledge. What will your next article or blog post inspire people to do?