Behind The Scenes Of The BuzzFeed News Newsletter
This is what goes into creating a daily news newsletter product for an international audience.
Every day, around 8 a.m. EST — early in L.A., lunch time in the UK — we send out the BuzzFeed News newsletter. Here are some of our most reliable tips and tricks.
Journalism 101: The same rules apply.
Every week day, we ask ourselves “Who, what, where, when, and why?”
The why is both the most interesting and the most difficult question to answer. This is also where our regular features like "what’s next," "a bit of background," and "a little extra" come in — to expand on that why.
As far as thinking about our “little extra” features: They should give context, teach something new, and answer the important questions. (Nobody said it was easy.)
For example, when we reported on an explosion outside a polio vaccination center in January, we provided the context for our readers to understand the broader issue in a few sentences.
It’s all about the audience.
Whatever we do, we do it with our audience in mind. Our voice isn’t based on what other people are doing, or what other newsletters are leading with. We ask ourselves: What do our readers care about right now? What do they need to know today?
We show up in people’s inboxes every day, and we like getting straight to the point. Nobody has time for throwaway words.
The information density in each newsletter should be high and any unnecessary details cut. Less is more.
Another secret to a good news email: Keep it active and conversational.
We believe email is highly personal.
We don't take people's inboxes for granted. The key goal of the newsletter (and the BuzzFeed News app) is to be like your most interesting, wordly friend. How would that friend tell you about a particular news event? In a smart, accurate, informative, and easy-to-understand way. And hopefully with the addition of an adorable animal GIF every now and then.
We know people are busy — tapping through is optional.
Our letter is full of links to direct you not only BuzzFeed but the rest of the internet. But it's not totally ~necessary~ to tap. The newsletter in and of itself should be a complete, fully formed product. Like the founder of our newsletter, Millie Tran, wrote in her blog post, we know our audience isn’t only compiled of news junkies.
Readers should be able to win a pub quiz and have an intelligent water cooler conversation about the news, without having had to tap through a single link.
Bonus: A #teamnewsapp pro-tip
Use checklists. They improve process, 100% of the time. Thank you, Atul Gawande.