The newspaper industry is buzzing about a brave new direction in traditional print media, thanks to the work of social media expert Emaleigh Nugent.
The self proclaimed “influencer”, who has made a name for herself through her podcast “Emaleigh’s Insights” was invited to a panel of newspaper publishers with the North American Media Association, to explore new ways to attract a more media-savvy demographic.
According to Nugent, traditional media faces an uphill battle with readers who prefer social media as a news source. That demographic finds traditional news, “kinda retro, but not the good kind of retro.” she said. “I see a newspaper, and I think, like, it just sits there. It’s just…letters. All in rows. I don’t get it.”
Nugent suggested adding emojis to the text, as a way to build a greater emotional resonance with audiences.
“I read this headline, and it says ‘Man killed in tragic accident’, but I’m not sure how I should feel about that,” she said. “Like, I think I’m feeling sad, but how do I know if that’s right, unless you tell me with an emoji?”
The length of articles in newspapers were also a concern for Nugent.
“Like ohhhhhh…emmmmm…geeeeee you guys. Like, why do you need soooo many letters to say something soooo simple?” She said. “Like, just get to the point. Why do you need to say so much stuff over and over again? After the first few lines, I’m like, ok, I get it. Go to the next thing already? Just end it. Cause I have other stuff to do, you know?”
Publishers at the session were grateful for the input from the influencer, and have been eager to implement her ideas.
“She suggested 140 characters as a guide,” said News This Week publisher Gary Hendrick. “It might be a challenge to convey complete thoughts in so little space, but I think my writers are up to it.”
Nugent had been contracted by “Newshound Today” to rework their stories for social media. She was most proud of her transformation of a three-part investigative expose of a local politician who was blackmailing a local retailer, in exchange for a lifetime supply of free Ruffles chips.
The story covered 20 years of history, including when the politician’s son was a Ruffles delivery driver, who was maimed in a freak accident with the retailer’s spinning display racks.
Nugent suggested the story should be truncated to: “Vengeful dad wants more chips. Does crime to feed the need. Would you go to jail for chips? We totally would for dill pickle! LOL! Hit us on the ‘gram with YOUR fave flavour!”
Newshound’s publisher Dan Miller wasn’t convinced the retooling would fly with his readers.
“It doesn’t even say anything,” said Miller. “We worked for months to uncover that story.”
However, as a test, Miller’s web team uploaded both versions. Nugent’s version went viral, with 17,532 views in the first 10 minutes. The journalists’ story had five views, including one share, from the author’s mother.
“I’m not sure what to take from this,” said Miller. “It’s a bit depressing.”
“Oooh, I have a Gif for that!” piped in Nugent. “It’s sooo hilarious!”