Sun, Jul 20, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Nice Internet sites aim to uplift by sharing caring content

By Sheila Marikar  /  NY Times News Service, NEW YORK

The architects of these social-sharing sites bring to mind mixologists tinkering behind a bar, adding dashes of this and that to come up with the perfect cocktail, the one that will be Instagrammed to oblivion and ordered round after round.

“We are, absolutely, a page-view-driven site even though we don’t want to be,” Magnin said of Thought Catalog. “Every writer wants to do well, and ‘do well’ means get more Twitter followers.”

Quest for shares, likes and followers aside, the leaders in this emerging niche of new media are not cutthroat in the way that some at other news and entertainment organizations are. Instead of stealing scoops and stories from one another, they vie for time that a reader may otherwise spend clicking through an acquaintance’s vacation photos or an ex’s wedding album.

“Anything that might show up in your Facebook news feed is who we’re competing with,” Koechley said. “All other media companies, but also baby pictures and funny music videos and everything else.”

Ultimately, that often means churning out content that makes people feel good.

Back in Dolores Park, Magnin recalled a nonprofit he worked for in his 20s, Every Person Has a Story, in which donors paid for technology that enabled them to follow the lives of children in Rwanda, Haiti and other developing countries on social media. He stepped back from it after Thought Catalog took off.

“It is really hard to get people to pay attention to something uncomfortable, given the choice set,” he said. “People don’t want to see poverty every day.”

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