Email is simultaneously the default operating system for work and the cluttered antithesis of all productive activity. The convenience of having a single “inbox” for all of the messages that I might need is so seductive that I have subscribed to many different news resources that I regularly read. This is in addition to time reading Twitter, Apple News, and GoodLinks articles that I have saved for later (or possibly, never). I do not subscribe to these outlets because I want to distract myself from work. Rather, I have actively sought out these perspectives in the same way that I used to read blogs regularly. I want to hear from particular voices. I want to make sure that I am informed and I want that information to be intentional, not incidental. I wanted to enumerate these sources so that others can take advantage of the insights, or at least know how I am filling my morning reading time:
- Heather Cox Richardson – A friend of mine recommended this one a couple of years ago, and I read it EVERY DAY. Her way of writing relies heavily upon historical research and modern political science. While her perspective is decidedly left-of-center, her ability to communicate current events in a way that makes sense in the broader context is a welcome respite from news articles that lack all historical perspective.
- The Factual – I pay for this service to serve up the top 5 news stories of the day with a balanced set of articles to support each one. There is also a daily survey that gives me a pulse on exactly where my opinions stack up with other users of the service (short answer: I’m far more liberal than many other folks who are looking for a “balanced perspective.”). It is one of the biggest ways that I catch stories that fly under the radar in my carefully curated bubble on Twitter.
- City Cast Denver – This is the only local newsletter that I subscribe to, but it is essential reading. I get 100% of my restaurant recommendations from this daily message. I also learn what is happening in my city in a way that a local newspaper would have done in the past. However, City Cast has an obvious personality that makes it worth reading too. It includes personal anecdotes from a Denver native, a perspective that I enjoy but could never understand. Denver has changed so much in the last 40 years that only someone who has been here for that whole time can describe. It is the Colorado history that I didn’t get when I was in school because I grew up in Ohio and they didn’t teach Colorado history there. Go figure.
- Observatory: Institute for the Future of Education – This is one that I came to pretty organically. It is from Tecnologico de Monterrey and it is the only newsletter/website I know of that actually talks about progressive education that also is influenced by online and blended learning pedagogy. While this is obviously a niche interest, I really like staying up on what is happening at Innovative educational institutions around the world.
- Rewire News Group: The Fallout – Ever since Texas passed Senate Bill 8 (the EXTREMELY restrictive anti-choice “heartbeat” law that allows anyone to object to an abortion and receive damages for it) I have become far more active in learning about and fighting for reproductive rights. It will come as no surprise that this kind of reporting was not making it into my news diet enough (Men do not get algorithmically recommended these kinds of articles, so I have to seek them out).
- Tedium – While I do not read this newsletter from top to bottom, I often find the whimsical look at pop culture and technology to resonate when the topic crosses over with my own interests. The in-depth look “natural scrolling” for example was truly fascinating. The history of coupon clipping was far less so. Regardless of the topic, the writing is well researched and oftentimes hilarious.
- Press Run – I have yet to decide whether or not I enjoy partisan pandering when I seemingly agree with the majority of what a person says as well. It feels like I am falling into a trap, but a trap for what? Is it a trap where I end up learning the truth about world events, or is it a trap where I cannot tell what I true because things are so slanted to only represent part of the story? I use Press Run to help me answer that. I end up reading this newsletter to determine whether or not I believe in each plank of the democratic platform or if there are some things that I different upon. It is a great check for my own sanity whenever I dig into a claim to see if it is backed up by other sources and viewpoints as well.
- OnTech with Shira Ovide – I don’t always agree with her perspective, but I truly appreciate the way she questions the role of technology in our lives. She makes the most important elements of any story into an easy to understand narrative. She takes vague concepts like data privacy and makes them concrete and palatable on any given Monday morning. She also does the thing where you link to other articles multiple times in a single sentence so that you can see how her thinking has been informed. (For Example: “America’s cities are so reliant on cars not because we lack tech options or alternatives. It’s because we have policies that subsidize automobiles. There is free parking, zoning that separates people’s homes from work and shopping and a lack of investment in public transit, walking and cycling to make alternatives to car trips more appealing.”) It is a pleasure to view the tech world from her skeptical viewpoint.
While there are a few other newsletters that I still subscribe to, I rarely read them. They will all get purged when I do my next “great unsubscribe.” More importantly, though, I am thinking of starting back up my own newsletter. I wonder what my perspective will lend to others. Will it allow for better context or a wider world view? Or, will it simply be something to pass the time as you struggle to work up the energy to answer the far more pressing email in your inbox?