Meet TikTok's 'Print Princess': Kelsey Russell


Her TikTok followers know her as “the Print Princess” and “the girl who reads the newspaper.”

Kelsey Russell engages more than 89,300 fans on TikTok, where she evangelizes print newspapers and media literacy. She summarizes news articles for her audience, adding her (often humorous) take on the topic. She traces her affinity for news back to her childhood in Atlanta. At home, the news was part of daily life.     

Kelsey Russell is known as “the Print Princess” on TikTok. She uses the platform to promote critical thinking and media literacy.

“I grew up in a family where being informed was really important — just to know what’s going on locally,” she recalled. “In the morning, my Dad always read the newspaper. He still does — the physical version. … He would always let me take the entertainment section of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or I’d read the comics. I fell in love with being informed, and I felt good because I was knowledgable. When I stepped out of the house, I knew more. I could apply the things I was learning from the newspaper.”

The week E&P spoke with Russell, she was preparing to graduate with a master’s degree from Columbia University, where she studied sociology and education. She recently accepted a position co-hosting a weekly news program for children, First Stop News, and she’s launching a podcast this summer.

Russell subscribes to three dailies. She keeps a stack of other newspapers and magazines in her apartment — publications she acquires at retailers or those gifted from friends. She relishes traveling to different countries and buying newspapers, even when she can’t read the language. “I loved seeing what they talked about through the pictures and images. … It gives you another glimpse into what a part of the world is thinking,” she explained.

Among her TikTok audience are young people who are feeling the fatigue of being tethered to their phones. They tell her they appreciate “peace” when reading and learning from print media.

Her growing TikTok audience represents every generation, from Gen Z to Boomer followers who wax nostalgic about newspapers. Younger followers tell her they find print refreshing. “They’re realizing they can slow down for a moment without other voices and influences on their phones. They can have a moment to themselves. You can have a cup of tea and read and sit with your thoughts,” she said.  

Russell enjoys making people laugh, but she also aims to make people think and challenge what they read and view.

“I’ve found they can be beautifully critical,” she said of her audience. “They’ll make comments like, ‘Isn’t that bias?’ or ‘Shouldn’t we question what this source says?’ And I say, ‘yes, that’s why we’re here!’ That’s why I read the article and tell you about the author. I give a little history of the publication because I think it’s important to understand how these legacy institutions were built, who they don’t include, who is included and be heavily critical. That is a good thing in this day and age.”

Using her TikTok channel to reach an audience of 89,300 and counting, Kelsey Russell talks about the day’s most important stories. Here, she informed her followers about the ouster of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy by members of his own party.

For news publishers who don’t see TikTok as a viable news-delivery platform, Russell would like to change those minds.

Despite the cries to ban TikTok, she doesn’t think the threat is imminent.

“I think the debate is opening people’s eyes to another conversation about what being a superpower country means and how it’s changing. It’s all about who has access and who owns your citizens’ data. … What TikTok is showing is there’s a whole other war on the brink of being fought,” she suggested.

She’s also cognizant that platform popularity can be fleeting.

“To all the influencers and creators, it’s an important reminder to have things going on outside of the rented space we have on these apps because this shows that nothing is forever,” she concluded.

Gretchen A. Peck is a contributing editor to Editor & Publisher. She's reported for E&P since 2010 and welcomes comments at


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