On Friday, USA Today rolled out a new feature in its print magazine: Emojis, very large emojis, that reveal the gist of each story before you even read the headline.
So far, it seems, a large crying emoji means the article is about tragedy, and a large angry face means the story's about Russia.
People thought it looked pretty strange.
The newspaper emojis, which debuted during a heavy news week for icons, were designed to be an expression of the web on print, or something along those lines. USA Today editor-in-chief David Callaway explained to Adweek that though the emojis are a reference to Facebook's possible "reaction" buttons, there's no partnership in place between the paper and the social media network. The emoji integration was, he said, "fully an editorial decision." Callaway continued:
The front page editors discussed putting the new FB emojis on the top of the front page, as a reference to a story about them in our Money section, which brought about the discussion of whether to use them on the stories.
Callaway added that the images were kind of an experiment. "Social media and its icons are becoming a dominant form of communication in our world. We wanted to show what they would be like if transferred to print," he said. Callaway seemed irritated by a question about whether the editors worried the images might appear flippant:
AdFreak: Was there any concern about these emojis seeming too flippant next to serious content like the stabbing or Syria?
Callaway: Yes, of course there was discussion about being too flippant.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.