‘Is This What It Takes’ To Go Viral?

Village Voice staff writer Elizabeth Dwoskin received a first-hand lesson on how to satisfy the arbitrary whims of the internet masses. In June, her cover story on ex-Citibank employee Debrahlee Lorenzana — supposedly fired by the company because her body was too “distracting” — became an instant sensation. Within twenty-four hours of her story going live, she was being contacted by the likes of Good Morning America and The Colbert Report.

Recounting the experience in Columbia Journalism Review, Dwoskin writes:

As a journalist, you spend so much time plugging away at stories that you hope will impact society. Then, suddenly, you hit on a sexy banker who lost her job, and, delighted as you are, you also can’t help but wonder: Is this what it takes to be talked about all over the world?

She attributes her story’s success to a combination of factors, such as the salacious accompanying photos and the fact that her story took place in media-saturated New York. But as Dwoskin herself points out, popular doesn’t necessarily equal better. “I never had any illusions that this was my most important or best story,” she admits.

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