Farhad Manjoo at the NY Times just wrote an article about how for two months, he turned off his social news notifications and relied on newspapers for his news. What he discovered was interesting - far from being less informed, he actually found himself more widely informed as he was engaging with insightful, well-investigated, credible content versus predigested commentary where people are talking about the news, rather than the news itself.
While for many of us, going back to the age of newspapers is not going to happen. I may love to get my Sunday paper, and read my local newspaper front to back, but that's a weekly event, not something i can realistically manage on a school/work day, trying to get two small kids fed, dressed and out of the house by 7:15.
But recently, I've increasingly found myself turning away from Twitter and Facebook, and instead relying on newsletters to provide that news hit first thing - something i can read while on the commute so I'm arriving in the office informed on the day's agenda, but not one caught up and enraged by the fights breaking out between public figures and friends on social.
So, if you want to try out Farhad's advice, here's a selection of newsletters I'd highly recommend:
- For news: Axios's AM/PM is the big one for me. It's described as "smart, efficient news worthy of your time, attention, and trust" and I couldn't agree more. All of the newsletters from Axios are great, but this is the first thing I read every day. And again when the PM edition comes out.
- For tech: Fortune's Data Sheet - a curated selection of the top tech news of the day and with such a smart team, they're often breaking that news too.
- For women/mothers: whether you're a fan of her or not, Sarah Lacy has always been a champion for women's rights. Her Chairman Mom newsletter is chock full of insightful commentary on feminist issues and how we can break down the patriarchy. I find myself muttering "Hell, yeah" to this one A LOT.
- For lifestyle: the original and still an engaging read is The Skimm. Female-centric, this provides a snapshot of the biggest topics of the day in a relatively light-hearted format that doesn't get your blood boiling.
- For working smarter: I absolutely love The Hustle. While it includes commentary on the latest tech and business news and what it means to us, this newsletter gets you thinking about how you could work smarter too.
So, if you want to try and copy Farhad and turn off those breaking news notifications, but not quite ready to go back to the newspaper, try newsletters. I'm loving them.
I distilled those lessons into three short instructions, the way the writer Michael Pollan once boiled down nutrition advice: Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.