If you have been even a passive participant in the world of journalism this past year, you are well aware of the changes throughout these unprecedented times. As technologies evolve and social shifts change how we interact, it is no surprise that how we curate and consume information is changing as well.
We are experiencing a renaissance in journalism. Many outlets and journalists are searching for that next wave of trends in storytelling and reporting. One of the leading movements that has grown in popularity has been the email newsletter. As we embark on this new year, let’s dive into understanding this rising medium and how it is shaping the future of media and journalism for years to come.
Why Journalists are Making the Move
Email and newsletters are not new nor groundbreaking. So one may ask, “Why are email newsletters suddenly taking off?”
Though a complicated question, simply put, we are in a time where the supply and demand for well-crafted and curated content have shifted and made room for independent newsletters to take off. One of the leading platforms used to host journalists’ newsletters is Substack. Substack allows anyone to create curated newsletters promoting their own work as well as the work of other notable journalists.
As Joe Pompeo notes in his article, both the pitfalls of newspapers and digital institutions and the need for accurate and trustworthy information made room for a journalism “gold rush”. This move allowed independent journalists to branch out and become their own information distributors.
Amidst impactful social events such as the 2020 U.S. presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences are now more than ever willing to seek and pay for premium content curated by reporters they know and trust. In a conversation on our Coffee with a Journalist podcast, Erin Griffith, New York Times writer, says, “I think retraining the world to pay for quality information is working in some respects and that’s encouraging.”
“I read a bunch of [newsletters] and I think it’s awesome, and I think it’s really cool that so many talented, smart people are making their own way too.” – Erin Griffith, The New York Times
Benefits to Email Newsletters
Popular journalists wouldn’t jump from established outlets to go solo if it wasn’t worth the risk. Below are 3 key benefits for journalists moving to email newsletters:
More creative freedom and journalistic independence
First and foremost, email newsletters allow journalists to embrace their creative muses and write the content that they truly care about. Unencumbered by a larger publication, journalists are now able to write and promote content and stories that align with their passions and interests.
On the Coffee with a Journalist podcast, Alex Heath, reporter at The Information, spoke about this shift saying, “You’re going to see a rise of already established prominent journalists in their respective fields just going, ‘I can do this on my own’ and going to do it.”
Empowers local journalists
A recurring fear in the journalism industry has been the fate of local journalism. Newsletters allow local journalists to create their own platforms and report on the stories affecting their audiences directly.
In her article, Christine Schmidt notes, “As revenue-starved local newsrooms shed journalists, some of them are using newsletters as a tool to build out their own one-person-show reporting operation.”
Quicker content for readers
In today’s rapidly changing news environment, readers and journalists alike are looking for content that is quick, easily digestible, and informative. Email newsletters bring condensed and concentrated content right to one’s inbox.
Coffee with a Journalist guest, Katherine Foley, Science and Heath Reporter at Quartz and author of her free newsletter, “Scrap Facts”, explains, “I love newsletters. I think they are a wonderful form of service. If you can find someone who curates links the way that you like, it’s a lifesaver, because they’re doing the work for you.”
5 Email Newsletters to Follow
Now we couldn’t talk about email newsletters without highlighting some of our favorites. Here are 5 of our favorite newsletters hitting our inbox:
1.) Morning Brew
Recently acquired by Insider Inc., Morning Brew is the perfect newsletter to start your morning off right. With updates on the latest tech news, from innovations to political shifts affecting the space, count on it to kick off your morning email scroll.
2.) Big Technology
Started by ex-BuzzFeed Senior Reporter and Coffee with a Journalist Alum, Alex Kantrowitz, Big Technology dives into covering big-tech stories around tech giants including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
3.) Daily PR Brief
For all of our PR professionals always on the hunt to step up their game, check out Daily PR Brief. Each day, get the latest articles, tips, and trends changing the PR world.
When the news dropped that Casey Newton was leaving The Verge to start his Substack newsletter, Platformer, it’d be an understatement to say the industry was shocked. With thousands of readers, Casey reports on the intersections of democracy and big tech in today’s world.
With Fast Company Compass, Fast Company’s very own newsletter, never lose sight of what’s important in innovation, design, and business news. Subscribe to stay in the know about breaking news, industry shifts, business tips, and more!
Want to find more? PR Pro Sara Evan created a fantastic list of free and paid newsletters to follow.
As we kick off 2021, it will be fascinating to see how email newsletters develop, evolve, and impact the industry. In the end, though different media outlets rise and fall with time, one thing is certain: journalists and storytellers will find a way to connect, inform, and inspire.
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