Local news started it. CNN made it mainstream. And now, UGM — user-generated media — is officially a big thing.
YouTube has successfully served as a platform for the common man, but who thought of allowing said man to write for the masses? Upworthy is one such platform that succeeded by sharing stories primarily created by others (some of them in “native ad” format).
In 2013, Fast Company asked if it would be “the fastest-growing media site of all time.” It’s kind of a big deal.
To date, the old-school concept of journalistic credibility has never been Upworthy’s primary concern…until now.
Meet Amy O’Leary.
To content farm fans, her name may not ring a bell. O’Leary was the deputy digital editor of The New York Times’ international desk. The Times, like most print publications, is going through staff cuts and layoffs, and O’Leary figured the Old Grey Lady may be asking for her retirement so she went searching for greener pastures.
She’s now the editorial director for Upworthy. From the company’s blog post:
Here’s the simple reason why I decided to leave my amazing job at The New York Times to come here: The world needs as much attention as possible on the stories that matter most. Whether that’s climate change, income inequality, health or immigration, I’ve always found the greatest challenge in journalism has been figuring out how to make those kinds of stories, which some people might glaze over, as compelling as when the next Beyonce album drops.
While clickbait is here to stay (just ask this dude), there is still a great need for good journalism. O’Leary promises to bring serious chops to Upworthy without forgetting her roots:
“The Times is an impressive and formidable journalistic institution; its coverage often produces huge and important change — probably more than any other news organization in the world,” she wrote. “For me, at Upworthy, there’s an opportunity here to take the cutting edge of storytelling even farther — to take centuries-old wisdom about how to capture attention, how to surprise, delight, and satisfy an audience, then share those ideas in a way that makes them stick.”
More than 18 million monthly unique visitors and journalistic integrity? We see an IPO in your future.