he media landscape has changed recently. Clever newsletters -- delivered via email -- are surging. Services like Tinyletter and Substack have made the feeling new again by making it easier for writers to connect directly to readers without needing to maintain or host a site or fire up tools like Mailchimp. As a result, we are now in a golden age of Newsletters. More than podcasts, they are my new favorite medium.
I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. What follows are newsletters of varying topics. This list represents only what I read religiously in my inbox.
I wish there were more ways to discover great newsletters, but so far it’s just Twitter for me. I’ve never had a friend refer one to me. Isn’t that sad?
So, here you go, friend. Enjoy my list. And if you have one or two of your own, please post a link in the comments and tell me why. I’d love to add more.
(Trigger warning: Some mentions are for open-source investigative journalists and opinionated women who lean left on the political spectrum.)
This is a weekly newsletter that showcases really interesting data science projects around the world. It’s honestly one of the reasons why I know that I’m in the right field. As a kid who came from a household of artists I always felt awkward. I was a math and science geek among historians and poets. This newsletter combines my love of data with my love of humanity in a really nice way.
“I’m a professor of American history. This is a chronicle of the Ukraine Scandal, but because you can’t get a grip on today’s politics without an outline of America’s Constitution, and laws, and the economy, and social customs, this newsletter explores what it means, and what it has meant, to be an American.”
Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter has since moved on from the Ukraine Scandal to indispensable daily posts explaining what’s happening today using a historical lens. Her writing is passionate and clear-eyed and always long enough to make me feel full. Never have enough time for her letters but I am always glad when I do.
“a newsletter about the culture, branding, and visual rhetoric of politics in America from reporter Hunter Schwarz.”
This is a fascinating newsletter that talks about how images and cultural trends affect politics. It’s incredible and probably the most unique thing I have in my inbox.
Amee Vanderpool (Shero) and Lauren Duca (Pancake Brain) do not mess around. Women’s anger is an important touchstone. I trust their perspectives implicitly.
This is Judd Legum’s newsletter. His resume is impressive and he comes at Journalism with more of a natural knack for investigating the phenomena behind headlines. He gets it and he tracks it to the source (especially in an age rife with algorithmic filtering and state-sponsored trolls). If you want to understand how traditional media is getting so much of our current age wrong, his newsletter is essential. Bonus: Scoops galore!
I discovered Maris Kreizman on Writer Twitter and have been following her book recommendations avidly for some time now. I honestly didn’t know she had a newsletter until after I also discovered her podcast. She’s everything a good book reviewer should be: fair, inclusive, and has no time for bad writing. She has a bias for thoughtful entertainment knowing that you don’t need to sit through boring to be edified. Her podcast is among the only ones I consistently listen to because her discussions with writers are full of details on the writing process, which I think anyone would find fascinating. Also, she introduces me to new talent all the time. It gets expensive following her.
I use this when I want to stay up all night with nightmares. [Nervous laughter] Actually, I just use it to make sure I’m not falling behind for my customers. If there’s a security risk out there that might affect them, I want to know. This is a great resource for that kind of news. Just straight talk and often good analysis along with it.
5ish and The Palmer Report
Let me just say this: I HATE business books, business blogs and business bloviators. Dangerous to admit that here, I know. Contrary to my permanent status as a Serial Entrepreneur of the Dot-Com Variety, I refuse to take part in the daily navel-gazing that is tech reporting. TechCrunch and their spawn are fashion rags for wannabe VCs (no offense to fashion). You will never see me sitting down with an HBR in my hands or wetting a finger to turn the page of The Journal. BUT, there are a few writers and business-minded thinkers I do tend to read just about every word they publish and these are the two.
M.G. Siegler. Ex-tech writer now Google Ventures fellow. I don’t know him. I don’t think I ever read him until I started seeing his articles recommended to me on Medium. But I think he’s got his head in the right place and often asks the question “Is this good for us?” which I think far too few Googlers do.
Irregular. Brief and Dense.
A friend recommended this newsletter as a must-read and to be honest, I have read every post since I did. I didn’t think I would but, hey, I have my moments of forgiveness. Shelly Palmer writes on a vast array of subjects, but mostly the intersection of media and technology. I trust him to keep me ahead of trends that might soon affect my customers and also me at parties where tech folks might want me to pretend to be a tech person too.
Simply the best high-brow literature blog around. It’s, what, 15 years running now? The archives are insanely rich and the Sunday ‘new stuff’ updates are always inspiring. Maria Popova, who maintains the site and writes all of its posts, is a national treasure.
I know the staff well and have been telling fellow San Diegans that VOSD is the best startup San Diego ever produced. Their commitment to being digital was innovative way back before print crapped out and has contributed to their success in more ways since. Their coverage of our region is essential (and free) reading.
Once a week: What We Learned this Week. Dense.
Once a day: The Morning Report. Dense.
Sometimes you just have to laugh.
In doing some research for this post, I came across a couple of articles about the industry of Newslettering. Here are those links in case you’re interested.
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