How does this story make you feel?


I followed a link on Twitter this afternoon to a poorly written story (actually a piece of commentary from a community news site operator, as it turns out) about a baby being born in the parking lot of a Fort Worth, Texas, strip club after the father was pulled over for speeding on the way to the hospital. The story may have been disappointing, but the feature I saw on that NBC affiliate website made me saw “wow.”

Right there in the sidebar next to the story was an array of different reactions that readers could have to the story, ranging from “laughing” to “furious.” Readers who are feeling generous with their clicks choose an emotion and thereby give the news organization a sense of how that story is faring. A similar system for tracking reactions is in place on BuzzFeed.

I imagine that you can also do a kind of database query to pull out which stories are the most infuriating or thrilling and display those around the site — a more advanced form of the popularity widget we have on the Chronicle site.

Would you like to see something like this on a newspaper website, or do you think this kind of emotional reaction is better suited to television outlets?

2 Replies to “How does this story make you feel?”

  1. I am intrigued with this – would be curious to see how it went. What I would not want is for newspapers to then only report what they think would drive a set reaction. News is news and the reaction is interesting and engaging but should not decide what is reported.

    1. I think of it more as a feature for readers to gauge how other readers are reacting to stories. It would be useful for helping a reader see what’s worth reading with just a glance at the reaction chart.

      I suppose there’s no way to guarantee that those ranking wouldn’t affect story placement, but that sort of thought happens already at news organizations around the country. Stories for the front page are chosen by different criteria — how many people they affect, their predicted historical significance and, yes, whether they will sell papers from the newsstand.

      In all, I would hope that any feature like this added to a news site would be there to make the site more useful to readers over anything else.

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