Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Are you willing to pay for CNN.com? Prepare to be asked before year’s end
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Oct. 29, 2015, 12:36 p.m.
Reporting & Production

Is there an ideal time of day to read news? A site called Twelve Thirty Six has one idea (you’ll never guess)

Editor Marc Weisblott looked at news patterns and decided a specific moment in the Toronto lunch hour was the right time to send out an email newsletter — but he’s stuck with “a very Canadian dilemma.”

When is the best time to send out an email newsletter? Morning and evening are certainly popular choices: Quartz goes for wakeup time (wherever you are in the world), while Vox chooses 8 p.m.. At Nieman Lab, as you surely already know, we send out our weekday newsletter at 3 p.m Eastern.

Twelve Thirty Six, “Toronto’s new lunchtime tabloid,” has decided on — you guessed it — 12:36 p.m.

twelve thirty six

That is, of course, lunchtime, when a lot of people are taking a break anyway, but Twelve Thirty Six editor Marc Weisblott (the former news editor of Canada.com) also thinks that time represents a natural ebb in the news flow, thus making it a good opportunity to catch people up. A lot of chatter and online activity surrounding the news happen either early in the morning, before 9 a.m., or at night between 10 p.m. and midnight. “By putting something together in the mid-to-late morning for distribution around noon, I’m getting the best of the clock,” he argues.

Twelve Thirty Six launched over the summer as a new product from St. Joseph Communications, which also owns Toronto Life magazine and Torontoist, among other media properties. A newsletter, Weisblott said, was “a way to cover Toronto hyperlocal news that would be able to exploit [St. Joseph’s resources] without stepping on anybody’s toes.” The newsletter is promoted on Toronto Life’s site and Torontoist, and St. Joseph has also taken out Facebook posts and Twitter ads.

The idea of sending out a newsletter after the morning news rush isn’t a new idea: Publishers Lunch, for instance, comes out around 11 a.m. with the idea that people in the book publishing industry could discuss it over lunch. The timing is working well so far, Weisblott said: Around 80 percent of the newsletter’s readership comes within 40 minutes of when it’s sent out, he says, and the open rate is around 60 percent.

On the other hand, Weisblott acknowledged, it’s possible that people don’t actually care too much about the time of day they get their news. On Wednesday, for instance, a MailChimp glitch led to Twelve Thirty Six arriving in people’s inboxes about three hours late — but he saw only around a 5 percent decline in the average open rate.

He also pointed to Postmedia’s recent shuttering of its evening tablet edition as evidence that perhaps we don’t need to overthink timing too much. “When I worked there, I was suspicious of their data that said an audience wanted a 6 p.m. iPad magazine, because it fit a little too perfectly with office hours,” he said. “But is 6 a.m. a better time? It’s a very Canadian dilemma now, unfortunately.”

Photo of lunchbox by RocksInMyHead used under a Creative Commons license.

Laura Hazard Owen is the editor of Nieman Lab. You can reach her via email (laura_owen@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@laurahazardowen).
POSTED     Oct. 29, 2015, 12:36 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Reporting & Production
Show tags
 
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Are you willing to pay for CNN.com? Prepare to be asked before year’s end
The cable news network plans to launch a new subscription product — details TBD — by the end of 2024. Will Mark Thompson repeat his New York Times success, or is CNN too different a brand to get people spending?
Errol Morris on whether you should be afraid of generative AI in documentaries
“Our task is to get back to the real world, to the extent that it is recoverable.”
In the world’s tech capital, Gazetteer SF is staying off platforms to produce good local journalism
“Thank goodness that the mandate will never be to look what’s getting the most Twitter likes.”