Building bridges with our stories

İSMAIL SELIM EŞSIZ
Published 30.11.2015 01:09

Despite the busy week for Turkish and international media outlets, sweeping conclusions should be delayed until all relevant facts are collected and reviewed. In lieu of publishing stories with heavy analysis and criticism, this week will focus on the lighter side of our times and feature more human interest stories. While this shift was set to occur several weeks ago following the printing of an Al Jazeera feature, several pressing issues delayed us from doing so until now.

What are human interest stories? Well the dictionary says that it is a story or report, as in a newspaper or on a newscast, designed to produce attention and sympathy by enabling one to identify readily with the people, problems and situations described.

While the main goal of newspapers remains unchanged, these types of features show a positive side of the media when done correctly. As they inspire greater sympathy in the readers, they also call attention major problems in society. Above all, these stories can serve as a call to action. Donations often rise significantly after a human story is published. These donations not only help those portrayed in the story but also those who suffer from similar conditions. Not to mention, in many cases governments are compelled to take action against social injustices as these stories rally the public behind a certain cause.

One of the latest successful examples of these human interest stories was presented by Al Jazeera in the form of a video segment featuring a Turkish railroad worker, İbrahim Çivici. Following the release of the video "Endless Road" many news outlets picked it up, including Daily Sabah. Along with thousands of shares being made via social media sites, the story managed to fulfill its goal and gain the sympathy of the readers while pointing out a larger issue. I congratulate Güray Ervin for his work.

Of course, every good thing can do more harm than good or be twisted in order to promote malicious goals. Human interest stories are no exception. While aiming to create more sympathy for a particular group or person, it is important to avoid excessively victimizing the wronged parties. Remember, human interest stories are supposed to open windows between different parts of society in order to bring them together, not divide them further.

Also, while spurring donations is indeed helpful, newspapers must be very careful and transparent in order to protect their credibility. Of course, carefully vetting the cases before publishing them will also stop opportunists who want to make a quick buck at the expense of the goodhearted.

On a side note, it has come to our attention that over the past few weeks the Daily Sabah's Youtube channel has received an increase in traffic. For example, the famous cat invasion of the G20 summit attracted nearly 500,000 viewers. This increase can be contributed to the good content and catchy wording of the videos. In both cases, the praises are well deserved by the web editors who are involved with the process. Perhaps in the upcoming weeks, preparing and analyzing statistics on the Daily Sabah's Youtube channel would be a good idea.

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