In New Video, Michigan Daily Writers Read Mean Reader Comments & Tweets
“As a student at U of M, I feel embarrassed for you and by you for publishing this. … Seriously man, f*ck this dude. He has no idea how to write. … It annoys me when obscure hacks like the writer, whose only job is to write daily copy about what more talented writers have created, says something ridiculous just to have something to print.”
This is a sampling of the mean reader comments, tweets and emails that Michigan Daily staffers at the University of Michigan read aloud in a new video. “Daily Writers Share Reader Responses” sports the look and feel of Jimmy Kimmel’s popular “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” series. But video creator Victoria Noble — a Daily videographer and columnist — tells me the aim is serious audience interaction along with straight comedy.
In an interview last night, she explained, “This is not ‘Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.’ I think Jimmy Kimmel’s show in general is a lot funnier than the Daily. This was meant to add humor to a situation that tends to get people really upset and strains the relationship between writers and readers. We were trying to take a more personal look at how people react to our content and how writers take in those reactions. It’s a more serious topic, but we’re not covering it like ‘This is what you should do’ or ‘This is what you shouldn’t do.’ Comedy is involved, but the point is not to be funny. The point is to provide another outlet for reader-writer interaction.”
Noble, who also appears in the video reading a rather harsh reader attack, said the staffers participated voluntarily. In her words, “When you’re reading reactions to your own work it’s, in a sense, a personal experience. So we wanted to make sure people were comfortable doing it in a public video. Once we had the people who were willing and interested to do it, we made sure they were reading comments from their own work and that what they were reading was appropriate and really spoke to something substantive that the viewer would find entertaining. We wanted it to be more than ‘Hey nice article’ or ‘Hey bad article.’ We wanted there to be something to it.”
According to Noble, this latest vid is part of a larger push by the Daily to adopt what she calls “a multimedia approach to opinionated content.” One example is a new video series called “Visual Viewpoints.”
As she explained that series to me:
“It’s been really focused on showing student voices and as many different views and as many different people as possible in a more organic format than writing. … Two videos have been run so far, one that I produced on gender equality and one another videographer produced on reactions to the Chapel Hill shooting. … [With reader-generated written content in the past] we weren’t necessarily getting the perspectives of the average student or random person in the library. When I shot my video, for example, I literally went to different spots on campus and asked students if they were interested in being in a video and sharing thoughts on the issue. … We’re trying to figure out how we can use video and different multimedia platforms to bring a new dimension to what we’re doing with the paper.”