Alumna ‘Pressed’ into changing news delivery

Adela Talbot // Western News

Jacqueline Leung, who graduated from the Media, Information & Technoculture program in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies in 2007, founded Pressed News, a newsletter that delivers the day’s Top 5 news stories to its subscribers in a colloquial, accessible language.

Admittedly, it was a bit too much for Jacqueline Leung.

While the Media, Information & Technoculture (MIT) graduate knew she should be watching and reading the news – especially as her career in marketing and media started to take off – she had no desire to wade through what she saw as the unnecessary jargon and superfluous information of traditional news outlets.

“I get frustrated with the way (the news) is written. I kind of zone out because it’s too overwhelming for me,” said Leung, who graduated from the MIT program in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies in 2007.

The way news articles and newscasts are presented, she noted, could – and should – be more colloquial. The status quo is “not inviting and makes things really hard to understand,” especially for younger generations who are looking for easily accessible information, fast.

This frustration spurred Leung to establish Pressed News, a newsletter that delivers the day’s Top 5 stories directly to your inbox. The stories she curates and writes with her team of volunteers are conversational quick hits, offering subscribers just enough information to stay on top of current events. The whole point is to encourage a younger generation to stay informed, without discouraging them with how news stories are packaged in traditional media, explained Leung.

“I am not a media junkie. I started following newsletters because I was starting to grow in my career, and I realized how important it was to follow the news. The (newsletters) weren’t just highlights; they would tell you what’s going on, but they didn’t have all this jargon. It was easy to understand, and sometimes it was funny. I just loved it,” she continued.

The newsletters she subscribed to, however, focused heavily on the United States as they were produced south of the border. She wanted something more homegrown. And so, Pressed News was born.

“I started talking to some friends and colleagues and students, if this is something they would want, and the consensus was something like, ‘Yeah, absolutely. I don’t follow the news either.’ The younger people I talked to said they only follow news on Facebook, and I kind of felt worried for the future generation as well,” Leung added.

Since its launch in May, the newsletter has a few hundred subscribers, without any marketing support.

Leung and her team pick the day’s Top 5 stories together and prepare them for delivery the following morning. She edits the newsletter at 5 a.m. before send-off to allow for timely updates in case of breaking news.

“Because of this, I consume the news 24 hours a day now. I’m reading and watching the news all the time. I don’t find it boring anymore but you can get (the news) down to 250-300 words. What we try to do is give you what’s going on today,” she said.

“Whenever I’m editing, I think about what are the questions I would ask about this story. I look into it, and then I explain it in two sentences. It’s crazy how easy it is to explain when you try a little, and when you become a real person and say it in real words,” Leung continued.

“What this is doing is helping people who are not informed at all become more informed. What we try to do sometimes if we don’t have enough, we add links to outside articles to add more depth and information. The option is there if you want it.”

The target demographic for Pressed News is students and young professionals, Leung said. Younger generations, if they feel inclined to stay on top of current events, might find newscasts and news articles too “old-school.”

“We are targeting people who are on social media all the time, looking for the news. They’re looking for things that are trending and things people are talking about because they want to be in the conversation and they want it to be fast,” she said.

“As younger generations grow up, more of them won’t consume the news and know about world issues and they won’t be able to talk intelligently about what’s going on around the world. And it’s harder for those people to contribute to society.”

As Pressed News continues to grow, Leung is looking at working with a business accelerator in Canada to support the newsletter’s growth. Her long-term vision is a multimedia news delivery service – a website, video and podcast option, even – giving subscribers information the way they want to receive it.

“I want Pressed to be a place people can go to read the news if they are interested, and we can make it easy for them.”