Eyeballs vs belly buttons

I got my first journalist job at my college newspaper writing cultural and political stories, with an occasional Op-Ed piece for good behavior. I remember my first day, promising my editor to write articles so good everyone will read them.

“I don’t want eyeballs,” he said. “I want belly buttons!”


“I want you to write articles so powerful they will motivate readers to get off their butts and DO something. Eyeballs just read; belly buttons DO!”

These were days when you wrote your articles on manual typewriters with three carbons and handed the copy to a Linotype operator. There was no mulling over the copy, cut this, paste this here. You thought out your lede as the story was unfolding, organized the who, what, why, where, when quickly enough to bang it out after a 7:00 pm Regents meeting in time for a 11:15 pm press deadline. You thought fast and wrote faster, operating on instinct and trust in your craft that what you were writing would move readers to act.

Kinda like what happens every weekend on UP.

And for eighteen months, UP has been motivating belly buttons out of bed every weekend. And maybe some of those eyeballs went into their communities and DID something after seeing an UP segment.

I’d like to think so. I’d like to think the next generation of UP will have more belly buttons than eyeballs.

*Presented humbly for your consideration, my case for using #innies


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