Thursday, January 24, 2019

Newsletters and podcasts, revisited

By Steve Weddle

I don't know how you ingest your news. How could I? I know so little about you.

As you may know, we have a podcast called "7 Minutes With," in which we chat about the big screen, the small screen, and music. (

If you have listened -- or haven't -- and have some ideas about what you'd like in the next season, please let me know, either her or via your email machine.

We've had various other podcasts in the past, a series in which three of the OG -- Russel and Dave and Jay (all gone) -- chatted about Doctor Who.

We've also done many, many interview with author podcasts.

One of the ways we fed that out to folks was through RSS, via Google Reader, also gone.

In my own life, since you were wondering, I've replaced Google Reader with Feedly.

Feedly instead exactly the way you want to consume your podcasts, of course.  Feedly is one of the two big ways I get my news. Email newsletters are the other.

If you're a reader, you might subscribe to authors' newsletters. For all I know, you might read some of them. As I've said, I know so little about you, which is fine.

Feedly aggregates news for you, and many folks went over there when Google Reader died.

If you want to have the morning (or evening) newspaper delivered to you, you might want to use an aggregator such as Feedly.

Of course, you might want to get your news via Facebook and Twitter. Who knows about you?

In Feedly, you pick your sources and the feeds are refreshed throughout the day, peppering you with all the news from io9 and hacker2600 and the Los Angles Book Review and whatever else you want. Your mileage may vary, of course.

That's the way I get a couple dozen new sources into my brain mass throughout the day. You probably do something similar.

But let's get back to newsletters. We joke about author newsletters -- and not without reason. The publishing world thinks authors will be more successful with a large newsletter base. They think authors will be successful if they have a name for their fans. Sweeties. My Darlings. Weddle's wankers. Whatever. Mary Oliver's Army. Who knows about such things? They think authors will be successful if authors push out reading schedules and edit updates and little person tidbits about the author. Someone decided that if readers see that authors are real people, the author can sell more books, making the author another dollar per sale and the publisher another nine dollars. Isn't publishing wonderful? Why did you purchase the new novel by Anne McAuthorface? Well, she's been sharing these videos of her and her cat and I love cats. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Wonderful plan. Keep it up.

from this morning's Axios newsletter

Warren Ellis, for example, has an amazing "author newsletter." You can read a sample here. While he might talk about his own writing, he more often talks about his own reading. Or listening.

There's more to life than just author newsletters, of course.

In addition to using Feedly more for news, I've been getting a good deal of my news through newsletters. Chances are that your favorite news source already has at least a half-dozen newsletters available. I get the Axios newsletter, delivered between 6 and 7 eastern (US) each morning. I dig the Washington, DC news, and this is a good source to start with. They've added a sports one this month, as well. Casey Newton over at The Verge does a good tech newsletter, which you might like if you like things like that. NY Mag also offers a number of newsletters. I've found the Intelligencer to be perfectly readable.

I have a few rules for email newsletters.

1. I use a dummy email account to receive the newsletters, and have them forwarded to my main email account. That keeps them segregated, so that I can easily locate just newsletters, as opposed to updates from LinkedIn and Indeed, which otherwise dominate my main email account, much like a CVS receipt. Also, this keeps my main email address out of the hands of those who might monetize spam.

2. If I skip reading two in a row of any newsletter, I unsubscribe. This is for much the same reason I give up on a novel if I'm not grabbed after 20 pages.

3. I delete the newsletter immediately after I've read it. It's still in my email trash for six days if I want to go back and remind myself of something, but it's best to keep my email inbox down to zero.

I was going to tell you about some podcasts I'm enjoying at the moment, such as Dan & Eric Read The New Yorker So You Don't Have To, but I've lost interest in my own nonsense. Maybe you have, too. I don't know what your tolerance is. How could I?


Thomas Pluck said...

delightfully acerbic as always. I've tried to keep my own newsletter for updates only, but with the increasing toxicity of social media-- the pool is more urine than water at this point-- I may start blathering my manifestos there instead.

Steve Weddle said...

Folks talk about how social media is bad for discourse, but don't as often point out that, when blogs were popular a decade or so back, folks used to post detailed, thought-out ideas there and generate discussion. Some still do, but more often someone who I read as a blogger will not hop on Twitter to post one dang sentence and a link to another article.

I'd thought the rise of Medium might do more to mitigate the damage of social media. I was wrong, again.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm not a big newsletter fan. One of the few I subscribe to I think the person must have removed me, because my husband gets at and I don't receive it. I am okay with sporadic newsletters for those who augment their news channels with them. Segregating regular weekly/daily reports to newsletters irritates me. There seems to be less open access to information when it isn't posted online. Makes me wonder what people are hiding or if they're selling subscriber info - another reason to use a dummy account. Great suggestion Steve.

Claire Booth said...

Steve, you are way more disciplined with your email inbox than I am. I'm going to start trying to do it your way.

David Nemeth said...

I use Newsblur for my feed. I love it. What I like about feeds is I control my news intake, not a Facebook algorithm.