The return of the newsletter

Remember the good old days of newsletters? Well, they’re back. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually sent to subscribers, they were used as an easy communication tool to keep customers (in a broad sense) informed. Obviously they never really left the scene. News organisations kept on sending them at a frequency of your choice, on a topic of your choice, but we’re seeing resurfacing newsletters edited by individuals or smaller organisations, scouring the still growing web at a speed -and mostly ease- that even outpaces the most tweaked RSS-feed.

Below you’ll find a very brief and hopefully growing list of newsletters we think are worth subscribing to (all English, mostly from US and UK based media outlets). Most of what we’ve tested and approved are sent on a daily basis, most are free, and all are very, very, very inspiring. Seriously.

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Now I Know

Thank you for Dan Lewis. This man graces your inbox on a daily basis with one interesting fact put in the proper context. Ranging from a tree that played a role in the Korean conflict, to good ole Abe Lincoln who created the Secret Service on the day he was shot and how Yemen is collectively (excusez le exaggeration) hooked on khat. Subscribe here. Lewis also has two books with a bunch of his interesting facts. After you buy our book, you can buy his.

5 Intriguing Things

After bowing our heads to Dan Lewis, we should all praise Alexis Madrigal for sending out 5IT every weekday. The former editor for The Atlantic who recently joined cable network Fusion handpicks five must-read articles on news events. It’s a great tool for background, below the newsletter Madrigal is as kind as to mention his sources. And the language tip at the end of each mail gets you acquainted with English language subtleties. Subscribe here.

Media reDEFined

VERY impressive newsletter from former MySpace c0-prez Jason Hirschhorn. It a curated list of media, culture, tech and business articles, more often than not offering background instead of mere facts. If you’re interested in a glimpse on the inside, subscribe here. Besides the original REDEF, there’s music, fashion and sports REDEF newsletters. On the website you can also read original articles from the collaborators. Oh yes, it’s all no charge.

Quartz

Great website and newsletter from the same company that publishes The Atlantic. The Quartz Daily Brief appears in your inbox at around 6 AM (you can choose between three regions for early morning delivery: the Americas, Asia and Europe and Africa). It curates articles on international politics, business and science news. It also publishes it own stories and has a nice selection of what it calls Matters of debate and Suprising discoveries, the former offering background on current affairs, the latter, well, letting you raise your eyebrows a few times during morning coffee (Russian police officers post selfies with their mums to earn the public’s thrust, or IS publishing a recipe for it’s jihadi fighters). It’s sent out every day except for Sunday. Great way to keep you updated on international (Western) affairs.

The Browser

It’s motto: Writing worth reading. Expect a selection of medium-to-longreads (should that word exist) on a wide range of topics. You pay $20 for 5 mails a week for a whole year. It’s a very nice add-on to the other newsletters, The Browser really stands out in its selection of articles. Many of them don’t appear in the other letters and offer the much needed background in the news tornado (if that word combo would exist). Each mail ends with a link to a cool video and a short thought of the day. Highly recommended! Subscribe here.

 

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Brain Pickings

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is a true gem. Every Sunday she sends out a selection of what she feels are the essential blog posts published that week. A necessity to feed that creative spark in each and every one of us. Popova’s posts cover art, philosophy, psychology, literature, science, etc. Great lay out, beautiful illustrations and, luckily, if you scroll down, you’ll find a list of must-read suggestions in the left column. Scroll a bit further down, and you’ll see topic keywords that should help you in finding that creative boost. Subscribe here. And donate.

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NextDraft

Dave Pell signs off each mail as the managing editor of the internet. The best part is you’re inclined to grant him that exaggeration after a few emails of NextDraft. Every weekday Pell sends an email that contains nine headlines of current news with a concise explanation and at least one link to an online article. The tenth is always the bottom of the news, much like Quartz’s Surprising Discoveries but even weirder. Another must-add to the ever growing list of newsletters. And it’s free.

De Bicker

Dutch newsletter that usually links to articles in English. Every weekday editor Michael Bicker Caarten promises to send his selection of must-reads before 9 AM (GMT+1). Interesting selection, but many of them can be found in one of the aforementioned. What makes this one stick out is Bicker’s comments. They summarise the article pretty well, often there’s a good picture included, always a bonus. Up until now the newsletter was sent out for free, starting this January you’ll be asked to pay what you like. More info here.

 

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