I’ve written a few times about best practices for following the news. It seems like most folks get their daily news from two places: cable news networks and social media. Both of these are terrible. Stop doing that.
One great place to get daily news is through an email newsletter. A lot of journalists and other internet writers do regular newsletters these days. They seem to be the new blog. As in, you don’t start a blog anymore, you set up a newsletter instead. Once you build an audience, you can start monetizing. Since monetizing their content is the goal, particularly for journalists (many of whom are out of work now), you’ll find a lot of newsletters that are paid-only, or that offer some free content and some paid content.
You should be as careful about whose newsletter you’re signing up for as you are about which news you’re reading. I mean, any asshole can fire up a newsletter, just like any asshole can write a blog. So, follow newsletters written by reputable journalists and writers.
Here’s a few I’m subscribed to, and why I like them.
The Popehat Report – Brand new and currently entirely free, but plans on adding paid content later on. Popehat, AKA Ken White, AKA the Internet’s lawyer, is a well-known Internet institution. Ken White’s been bumping around the Internet for years. He does a lot of First Amendment work, and has been known to work pro bono for people getting screwed on First Amendment stuff on the Internet. He’s also well known for explaining the law to laypeople online (“lawsplainers”), which is really informative and interesting. Sometimes he also tells hilarious stories about terrible and/or awesome judges and lawyers he’s worked with.
Popular Information – This one is written by Judd Legum, a political journalist/activist with years of experience who’s written for Think Progress, worked for campaigns, and ran for office. Usually you get one newsletter per week for free and the rest are paid, but since the pandemic started he’s been doing mostly free content. He writes about the intersection of politics, media and new media, as well political corruption.
Garbage Day – Garbage Day is written by Ryan Broderick, a fairly well-known writer who’s written for a ton of new media sites – notably Buzzfeed News, where he was an editor. This newsletter is mostly for fun, as Broderick uses it to dig up all kinds of history and context related to Internet trends and memes. It used to be a one-a-week freebie, but recently it went to three days a week and just started adding paid content.
Links I Would Gchat You if We Were Friends – Similar to Garbage Day, Links I Would Gchat You is mostly for fun. Writer and reporter Caitlin Dewey uses this newsletter to curate fun and/or interesting articles and news stories. It’s free and doesn’t have a set schedule, and you can always expect a handful of fun reads.
Next Draft – Next Draft is one of my favorite newsletters. It was a five-a-week newsletter, but writer Dave Pell went seven days a week when the pandemic started. Pell curates and summarizes the day’s best/most interesting articles, and you’re guaranteed a pile of excellent reading from quality sources with this newsletter. Also, it’s free. He monetizes with merchandising.
What the Fuck Just Happened Today – WTFJHT is essential reading during the Trump Years. Writer Matt Kiser curates and summarizes the day’s important Trump and Trump-adjacent news into one easily digestible evening newsletter. It’s free and comes out five days a week (skipping weekends and holidays), but you can donate to support the site if you want.
The Erin Endeavor – The Erin Endeavor is free and comes out intermittently – basically whenever writer Alexandra Erin feels like she has something to say. Erin is an independent writer of sci-fi, fantasy, and erotica (meaning she doesn’t work through a traditional publisher, she self-pubs), and while her newsletter topics can run the gamut of stories she’s working on to D&D mechanics she likes, she mostly writes about Trump and activism. She excels at analyzing Trump’s actions and thought processes, and she has some really insightful things to say about him and his base.
(Updated to note that Judd Legum is a journalist/activist, not just a journalist, and to note that the Erin Endeavor is free as Alexandra Erin’s paid content is on her Patreon, not in her newsletter.)