Unless you’re being hunted by the NSA and living entirely off the grid, you’ve no doubt heard of Upworthy — champion of the click-bait headline. “This Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular” — you know you want to click on it, joining 17 million (!) others. Same for “9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact.” And let’s not forget global warming: “Humans Aren’t Stupid, We Just Happen To Be Acting Very Stupidly.”
Last month, Upworthy asked readers “what you felt were the most important topics: the big issues of our day that deserve more focus and attention than they generally receive in the media.” The response was overwhelming: “In the couple of days the poll was open, tens of thousands of you from all across the country and world chimed in to vote. Many of you even gave us personal and moving reasons for your choices.”
The top vote-getter:
#1 Climate Change and Clean Energy
Upworthy explains, “We’d tell you why we think these issues are really important, but we actually think you’ve said it best”:
Duh! Or it least it would be “duh” in an alternative universe where humanity wasn’t hell-bent on self-destruction.
What happened next? Two amazing things: First, Upworthy decided to listen to its readers and do more reporting on the story of the century — unlike, say, stagnant old media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post, who have both slashed climate coverage:
We don’t think it’s quite enough to promise to bring more attention to these topics: We’re also proud to announce we’re teaming up with some experts in these fields to get the coverage just right….
To help bone up on climate change and clean energy issues, we’ll be partnering with the good folks at Climate Nexus. Chock-full of environmental science experts, reporters, public affairs specialists, and documentary filmmakers, Climate Nexus already does excellent work in telling the story of our climate in new and clever ways. We’re excited about putting our heads together to think of even bigger and bolder ways to bring attention to one of the most pressing issues facing our planet.
Second, the old media ignored this story entirely. OK, that’s not so amazing. It’s not like the old media understand that a large fraction of the population is very concerned about climate change — and that the health and well-being of the entire population depends on all of us making informed decisions about the climate. As Upworthy itself points out:
Too many media companies assume the worst about their communities — they think just because they’ve seen starlet scandals get more site traffic than foreign revolutions, that’s what their audience really wants to see. We couldn’t disagree more, and we think that the millions of you who make up the Upworthy community help prove it every day.