News newsletters worth subscribing to, and why they are so good

I write a daily paid newsletter for WordPress. It’s the bread and butter of Post Status memberships, and it’s relatively hard work. I’m always seeking quality information that’s worthy for my readers’ eyes.

After all, they are paying me to be their filter. I only include what I think will be interesting to a large percentage of readers, and I also try to mix it up between business, technical, and other topics that I think suit the readership.

Therefore, I tend to appreciate other high quality newsletters. I get most of my daily news from a small handful of emails. These are the ones I like the most:

NextDraft

Dave Pell is simply a superb curator. Based in San Francisco, he typically grabs the most important things that happened in the day, with a healthy dose of culture, tech, and other fascinating articles.

He reads everything so that I can read what’s best. I absolutely love NextDraft. You can always check out the current edition on the web as well.

Sidenote, I interviewed Dave in 2013 on Post Status.

FirstDraft

I’m a political news addict. I admit that. I’ve flirted with inside baseball newsletters like Mike Allen’s at Politico, but that was a bit much for me. A happy balance of campaign and political news — both wonky and serious news — is in the New York Times FirstDraft.

FirstDraft is both a blog and a newsletter, but they provide me pretty much everything I want to know in a day for national political news in their daily email.

I subscribe to the New York Times, and usually consume it through their NYTNow app (though now that they are changing it I’ll probably start using the regular app more). However, it often leaves me wanting more from a political perspective, so FirstDraft gives me what I miss from the top stories in their apps.

Quartz

Quartz (they are online at qz.com) offers an outstanding business-focused daily newsletter. They have an interesting combination method for the newsletter as well. During the week they link both to their own articles and others around the web, and it’s a news roundup, essentially. I like that.

But what really shines at Quartz is their weekend brief. They usually highlight a single issue and go a bit more in-depth, and they also share the most important business news of the week. I catch probably half of the daily briefs, but always read the weekend brief.

Buzzfeed News

The Buzzfeed News newsletter is outstanding. It’s very personally written — like the editor is talking straight to me. They cover mostly serious news in this edition of their newsletter (though they have other newsletters for the cat gifs, literally).

I’ve found Buzzfeed to be a great source of high quality journalism, though it’s certainly not what they’re most known for yet. They have serious news and political journalists, and are investing more into investigative journalism while other media sources pull back.

Other than the New York Times, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are investing more in original journalism (versus reporting what other folks report) than anyone in the United States. They are rapidly opening offices all over the world as well. I think Ben Smith is super smart and I love what they’re doing at Buzzfeed.

Nieman Lab

Nieman Lab offers the best journalism on journalism out there. They are heavily focused on the changing media landscape, and you end up with a healthy mix of news on all sorts of media, and they aren’t afraid to get technical either.

You can get Nieman Lab’s newsletter either daily or weekly, but I go for daily. It includes their new articles, plus the most interesting links from Fuego, their tool to gather other interesting links about journalism.

Sidenote: I interviewed Nieman Lab director Joshua Benton in 2014.


All of these newsletters share some common traits.

  1. They are personal. I don’t feel like I’m being fed automated junk, even if parts of them are automated. It feels like it’s been written to me, as a human, by a human.
  2. They are generous. They aren’t just teasers; there is real meat in the newsletter itself, not just in the links they share. Also, they don’t just link to their own publications, but each of them is willing to link to external sources.
  3. They have personality. Part of why they feel personal is because they have a personality themselves. Whether they inject humor, or are willing to go on a tangent within the newsletter, or are a bit more quippy than a traditional article would be, I feel the personality of the newsletter editor in the writing. That makes me want to read it, versus an automated feed that feels emotionless.
  4. They are consistent. I can rely on these newsletters to hit my inbox when they say they will. Over time, as they keep delivering good stuff, that makes me become more reliant on them and more committed to opening them each day.

As a newsletter writer (and blogger), I attempt to emulate those that I think are doing a great job. Of course, I use my own personality, but there is much I (and I bet you) can learn from the folks that write the newsletters I’ve outlined.

A note on email

My daily newsletter for Post Status Club members gets read by around 85% of subscribers each day. That’s because it’s a decent newsletter, the content is relevant, and it’s an engaged audience (because they paid for it!).

I get a lot more newsletters than the ones I included here, but these stand out and I make sure to read them. They send me good email, and it’s a great delivery method to make sure I consume their content.

People say they hate email, but they don’t. People hate bad email, and most email is bad. People love great email. So send great email.

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