| 03.18.2018

Insights in the inbox — Email newsletters are the new best way to get the stories you want and need



It’s no secret that paying attention to the news is harder than ever. Floods of negativity followed by small nuggets of good simply do not keep the people’s attention.

With the advent of fake news on social media, scrolling through news feeds for information has become more of a minefield than a reliable bulletin board.

So, what is a person to do? We obviously can’t just stop paying attention to the news.

One of the more innovative solutions is actually quite old-fashioned.

Jonah Baker | Argonaut

The email newsletter is making a comeback for delivering, well, news. The New York Times, BBC and just about every worldwide and niche news network across the world have adopted emailing curated newsletters to their customers to solve some of the industry’s biggest problems.

For the outlets, newsletters are a chance to reuse the same general concepts that have driven their businesses for centuries, while providing easy access to further information online that a physical paper could not provide.

While only a select few stories make it onto each outlet’s newsletter, those stories are often the few that matter most to that particular audience and can inform an entire conversation. Each newsletter is an opportunity for more advertising revenue and more site traffic, and proper execution can direct readers to even more content from that particular outlet.

From the reader’s perspective, newsletters are just really convenient. There is so much news from so many different outlets, and most of it contains the same information. Subscribing to a few newsletters and checking them regularly can replace hours of scrolling through news feeds and apps in a few minutes.

On any given news feed, a Washington Post article can be followed up by 20 minutes of cat videos, and the five minutes you were going to spend learning turns into half an hour of wasted time. This won’t happen with a newsletter. Confining all that important information to the inbox keeps it away from other sources of distraction while still getting all the benefit. On top of all that, newsletters cater to particular interests, and many can provide references to other niches that might be just what the reader is looking for.

The interest in this new trend starts at the top of corporate America.

Executives and business leaders are notorious for squeezing every second of productivity out of the day, so it would make sense that they would be early adopters of newsletters. Quartz reports that 94 percent of corporate executives get their information from newsletters, with many subscribing to The Skimm, The New York Times Daily Briefing and many others. Each publication compresses hours of information and research into a few articles, and then presents that information in a compact and visually pleasing format.

Interest from the top has trickled down to the public (unlike economic benefit and social mobility) as these newsletters have grown in content and subscriber base.

That level of interest is obviously well founded in careful curation and quality presentation that comes along with the good newsletters. If you often find yourself aimlessly scrolling or searching with some intent to stay informed, there is probably an email newsletter out there that will provide exactly what you’re looking for.

Jonah Baker can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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