Hello and Welcome to Rayaan Writer Newsletter. This is the Sixth Issue.
Since starting this newsletter, I have promised myself to learn more & become a better writer. To improvise the quality of this newsletter, I decided to do a survey on the news reading habits of my readers. I’ll be delighted if you can spare one minute of your time to do this.👇🏽
I didn't write my newsletter last Sunday because I was overwhelmed with the news. So many things are happening so fast that it is hard to keep track.
The Hathras case has left us shocked, followed by disgusting rape threats lashed against the daughter of a cricket player. The TRP Scam has turned TV channels hounding each other. The Bihar election drama and the fly that sat on Mike Pence's head.
There is an information overload. So, I decided to give myself a break. Soon, I realized that my break coincided with world mental health day. ** shrugs, eye rolls ** It made me wonder; does news turn us against each other? Does the news make us angry? Is it affecting our mental health? And more importantly…
Do search engine algorithms force news to mess with our heads?
Social media algorithms are designed to break our heads. We need to come with the right keywords to rank on the top of the search engine results page. That’s why weblinks are wrapped with clickbaity words.
To reach the top, news websites add provocative headliners to their articles. It makes us happy or sad or angry, or cry and become trolls on the internet. Most often Social Media Algorithms affect the editorial style of articles published by a news site and as a result, the reports end up manipulating our heads. (You should watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix to understand the deep impact of social media on people).
That's why traditional and reputed newspapers—print journalism—comparably fares better. People generally trust when the news is in print. But things spin out of control on the internet. Stats reveal that fake news spread six times faster than true news.
Just like keeping a tab on the food we eat, to stay healthy, keeping a tab on our news consumption is important. We need to take care of our mental health. There is so much hate everywhere.
Knowing what to read and only reading essential and useful information can keep our sanity in check. Several new online media startups are now producing high-quality journalism through one of the oldest and most reliable forms of communication.
The answer… is emails
It looks like we are going back to the internet boom. In the early 2000s, email was the coolest thing. Now, dozens of media startups are using emails to reach readers, producing exceptional quality journalism. The email never relies on SEOs (Search Engine Optimization) and it need not worry about reaching the top of the search engine results page. Naturally, the editorial style won’t have that much of an impact. All emails ever need is an address to connect.
Email newsletters are also free of trolls. Whenever a news network shares a report on social media, it gets bombarded with negative comments filled with hate speech or violence. But emails protect readers from trollers’ negativity. Emails are intimate and personal. You read things you want to read and you hear no one else.
My Favourite Newsletters
I subscribe to several free newsletters. Here are some of my favorites:
Axios and its subsidiary newsletters (Daily News)
The Skimm (Daily News)
Morning Brew and its subsidiary newsletter editions (Daily News)
The Juggernaut (News on South Asia)
The Sensemaker by Tortoise Media (Daily News)
The Hustle (News on Business & Tech)
The Profile by Polina Marinova (Long-form Features)
Heated by Emily Atkins (On Climate Change)
Popular Information by Judd Legum (US Politics)
Media Buddhi by HR Venkatesh (On News Literacy)
Finshots (Financial News)
The Ken (Pan-Asia Biz News) (Check their 30-day reading challenge via referral Link)
Splainer (Daily News Explained) (I read some of their free archived editions)
Reading them made me understand what makes a good newsletter
They are short and sweet. They normally take just 10-15 minutes to read.
They’re usually sent either daily or else once or three times a week.
They never overwhelm readers with anxiety.
They talk about an important issue with solutions.
They use funny GIFs, data-filled graphics, and a witty style of writing.
The information is enough to keep you abreast of daily/weekly happenings around you.
They're mostly ad-free.
You need to pay to get quality news
Why do we pay to buy any product? We pay for quality and we pay to serve its purpose. Why do we subscribe to Netflix? We want to access quality content for the purpose of entertaining ourselves. Why do we order meals from Swiggy? We want to eat something amazing from the comfort of our home.
But why should we pay for news?
I am going to quote HR Venkatesh, a senior journalist and fact-checker: "If you pay for it, you get quality. Also, if you're willing to pay for Netflix, Spotify, electricity, and clean water, you should also be willing to pay for clean information. It needn't be expensive. Just pick a media organization or two to support and contribute to them."
Readers who subscribe to the paid version of any newsletters get high-quality journalism. They get to access some exciting packages like directly connecting with journalists, getting insights on how a news startup functions, some amazing treasure chest of data, interacting with a community of like-minded readers, among many others.
Writing Explanatory and Solutions Journalism
Accessing news that makes our life better and helps us make a careful decision is the need of the hour. That’s where Explanatory and Solutions Journalism come in. The term explanatory journalism is self-explanatory. It helps you understand the news in the easiest of terms. Solutions journalism, on the other hand, seeks to find solutions for an issue that is being discussed.
It teaches us what we can do to solve a problem that's affecting our lives or our community as a whole. It urges us to take action and make a difference. Now, imagine, reading news reports that talk about a problem which we need to solve and it comes loaded with expert solutions. An example of a news website following this style of journalism is Vox. This form of journalism is something I’m aiming to offer in my newsletter. To achieve that, I have to…
Improve the quality of my newsletter
I have promised myself to improvise the quality of my own newsletter. I need to gain the trust of my readers; I need to gain your trust. In this world of fake news and bias, it's hard to gain the trust of journalists online. But what makes them trustworthy is when reporters write nothing but the truth.
I promise to do that. I promise to call spade a spade. I promise to offer valuable content. I aim to bring out a series of high-quality journalism, exploring issues and stories that need to be told. I aim to write a series of features, speaking to people who are experts in varied fields to understand how they do what they do.
I also aim to list out a compilation of resources; articles, case studies, podcasts, videos, PDFs, and files containing a holy grail of information on a range of subjects, that are available for free across the internet.
Together, news creators and readers can build a space for exceptional journalism to thrive. And I wish to do it through my newsletter. 🍻
This marks the end of today’s edition. See you soon! Stay safe, wear masks, wash your hands, and spread love. Feel free to forward this email to your family and friends. 😊❤️
To share this post as a web page, click the button below:
(To become a paid subscription soon!) Wish to read more? Sign up!
I’d be happy to hear what you think about this post.