Email newsletters make surprising comeback among media outlets
I have a confession. I’ve got 104,440 unread emails right now — an actual number, not an attempt at humor by way of hyperbole. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this.
First, I’ve had the same email address for more than 12 years. Over that time, the emails have sort of piled up. For eight of those years, I served as music director for a radio station — a job that generates a lot of unsolicited email. (I still get 15 to 20 of those emails each day.)
Add to these the typical promotional emails from Amazon, Live Nation, Walmart, Kohl's and the like, and the unread email continues to pile up.
But I’m also a breaking news junkie. That unfortunate habit has led me to sign up for more email newsletters — news alerts, roundups, briefs — from dozens of news sources. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Axios, Politico, the Chicago Tribune, The Marshall Project, Reveal, Harper’s, The New Yorker… Again, they just keep pouring in, much faster than any reasonable person could keep up with. I tend to glance at the headlines as they come in, and only click on those that seem particularly interesting.
I could be wrong, but I get the sense that email newsletters — which have been around for about as long as the Internet itself — are seeing a resurgence. At one point, they had become passé; I don’t really think that’s the case anymore.
My impression is that newsletters are making a comeback; many large news organizations have staff dedicated solely to writing the daily newsletter. (Think the Washington Post’s “Daily 202,” or “The Post Most.”) Outlets like The New York Times, The Intercept, Slate and Politico rely heavily on daily newsletters to drive traffic to their websites.
In fact, a study conducted by Quartz about 18 months ago surveyed more than 1,300 global executives and found that 90 percent of them subscribe to an email newsletter. The same study found that only 60 percent of them use social media to get their news — a figure significantly lower than the average consumer.
In 2014, The New York Times reported that email newsletters were growing in popularity. At that time, the Times reported that the resurgent popularity of newsletters was because readers had “grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognizable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos.” I think this sums it up well.
I would estimate that emails are probably responsible for 70 to 80 percent of the links I click on. That is, if I end up on a website (like the ones mentioned above), I’m almost never typing it into the address bar of my web browser. And I click on surprisingly few links on social platforms. I suspect that Twitter, however, gets three times as many clicks (from me) that Facebook does.
Within the past few months, two New Mexico reporters have started their own email newsletters — both of which I highly recommend. Environmental reporter Laura Paskus recently launched the NM Environment Review, a weekly newsletter about environmental issues across the state. And earlier this month, Marie C. Baca of the Albuquerque Journal launched Chile Street, a weekly roundup of the state’s biggest (and sometimes strangest) stories.
I just checked. Now I have 104,552 unread emails.
— Originally Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, 07/19/18