Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why you should know about (and read) newsletters

What can journalists learn from  using Pokemon Go?

How the heck do I know, I barely know what Pokemon is. But I don't need to know, because I read newsletters. I learned all about it from this  Poynter Institute story.  I got the link from the Online News Association Weekly newsletter,  which arrives in my mailbox each week, filled with all kinds of information related to digital journalism, including job postings and news about workshops and conferences.

The world is in a constant state of change, and if you want to work in any industry, you have got to keep up with developments in the field while you're in college. There's no better or easier way than subscribing to industry newsletters. (You can also take a regular look at the publications listed on the right hand column of this page.)

You might also consider newsletter production as a career path. Like podcasts, newsletters have come in and out of vogue, but the digital products seem to be in a growth pattern now. The key: building a strong vertical--a specific area-- and a dedicated audience who can't do without your information.

A lot of you tell me you love The Skimm, a newsletter for Millennial women. Its tagline: "makes it easier to be smarter." 

Traditional news outlets are getting the message. At the Globe, Teresa Hanafin, who's an alum, just launched Fast Forward: The News You Need for the Day Ahead. It's newsy, but also a lot of fun to read, in part because it has Teresa's wisecracking voice, and deep knowledge of Boston cultcha, if you know what I mean.  (Why not help her out and subscribe? And follow her on Twitter: @BostonTeresa. She is a fierce Red Sox fan.)

The Washington Post has gone nutty for newsletters. This, from Digiday:
The Washington Post has 75-plus newsletters that are written by reporters and editors in their respective verticals, but the strategy is overseen by a newsletter and alerts editor, Tessa Muggeridge.
In Entrepreneurial Journalism (Journ. 383! Still spaces this fall! Sign up!) we talk about how the entrepreneur finds a problem and solves it. The newsletter is a solution to the problem of too much information and too little time. And the startup costs are pretty reasonable. Here's a Folio Magazine piece about how the digital media outlet Quartz "reinvented" the newsletter to communicate with the 15,000 attendees at the Cannes Lions 2016 marketing conference in June. 
"We thought that an email product shouldn't just be headlines to drive you back to the website," Lauf says. "Rather, we asked, 'What would we want from an email product? How could an email we receive every morning make us smarter?"
The result was a daily newsletter delivered in the morning and designed to tell readers not just what happened while they were sleeping, but what to expect for the day ahead. Unlike most newsletter products, not all of the links go back to Quartz's website, In fact, most go to outside sources, even competitors.
"It's very deliberately user-first," Lauf continues. "A lot of publishers give lip service to that, but don't really deliver on it. We put ourselves in the shoes of the busy reader that we serve, who may not want an app or a newsletter that’s just another marketing vehicle to keep people inside the walled garden. It’s about making our readers smarter. If that means linking out to other sources, we believe that will come back to us in terms of loyalty."
So. If you want to dive in and learn more about journalism, and get a sense of how these things come together, take a look at:

Need to Know: American Press Institute

Digiday Daily: Covers media, technology, social and marketing

NetNewsCheck covers local news from the business and tech perspective, print, broadcast and online.

Online News Association Weekly: covers the intersection of tech and journalism.  

Folio Magazine covers the business of magazine publishing and marketing, and offers several different newsletters, depending on your interests. 

Mediabistro Revolving Door Newsletter: covers the magazine industry and the comings and goings of editors and publishers.

Brainpickings isn't a journalism newsletter, per se, BUT. It's a great example of how one young writer followed her interests and created her own terrific publication. Check it out. I always find some interesting reading here. 

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