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March 9, 2020, 2:25 p.m.
Aggregation & Discovery

The Washington Post wants to join your group chat (and help your not-into-politics friends keep up)

The newspaper hopes to broaden their audience for politics coverage with a thrice-weekly newsletter for readers who feel overwhelmed by the unending news cycle.

The Washington Post knows the news can feel like a bit much these days.

Even before the coronavirus broke out and the stock market went into free fall, about two-thirds of Americans reported feeling “worn out” by the amount of news, according to recent Pew Research Center research.

Enter Drop Me The Link, a new politics newsletter from The Washington Post that promises to deliver election news in a manageable dose. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon, the Post will send a single link to a Post politics story alongside context that will help readers understand the news — and talk about it with friends.

The signup page promises subscribers can “use this newsletter to be the 2020 informer, the plugged-in friend, the Keeper of the Links.”

Three editors — that’s them in the “PostMojis” above — will select the links and unpack the political news:

Three editors at The Post will be sending you good reads: Ric Sanchez, a voice of The Post’s social platforms and Man About Town Internet; Krissah Thompson, an editor in Style with an eye for detail; and Terri Rupar, an editor in politics who was already texting her friends too many Post links anyway.

Drop Me The Link promises to be short and “respectful of the reader’s time,” including just one link per email and a chatty 200-word introduction that the writers hope sounds less like a summary and more like what’d you’d say when texting the article to a friend. There’s a brief section directing readers who want to learn more and a list of important dates (such as upcoming primaries or debates) and the first newsletter — which features a narrative piece selected by Rupar about a Sanders supporter who prefers the term “Bernard Brother” to “Bernie Bro” — also includes a link to live updates for primaries happening the next day.

The thrice-weekly newsletter is targeting younger or first-time voters and people who may have been apathetic in the past but are “newly awakened to their civic responsibility,” said Tanya Sichynsky, newsletter editor at the Washington Post. But it could appeal to anyone feeling besieged by headlines.

“There’s a ton of content out there. People are getting hit from all sides in terms of the news that they can read and where they can get it — and it can really feel overwhelming,” Sichynsky said. “Working at the Post, we see those problems ourselves. We’re constantly trying to read all the news all the time. We wanted to find a solution for those readers who potentially feel overwhelmed or intimidated by just the pace of coverage.”

When the Post team was brainstorming ways to reach readers who weren’t already tuned into their election coverage, two ideas kept coming up. The first was “less is more” — asking readers to read fewer links — and the second was the insight that news that could feel overwhelming in other contexts felt less so in more intimate conversations, including group chats.

“I wanted something that felt like it could be a baby born of both of those strategies,” Sichynsky said. “Something that really serves the core politics coverage goals of the Post, but also had a feeling of accessibility and approachability.”

Drop Me The Link fits with that prioritization of national politics coverage as well as a renewed focus on digital subscriptions.

“The core strategy of the Post has been moving more and more toward the subscriptions base, so obviously newsletters is a massive part of that initiative,” Sichynsky said. But the Post also sees Drop Me The Link as a way to broaden their audience, just as their lifestyle and, especially, food newsletters have found an audience beyond politicos and media types.

Rupar, one of the three newsletter writers who will rotate throughout the week, was most excited about highlighting Post articles that readers seem to have missed on first pass.

“I think all of us have had the experience where there’s a story that you love and you’re asking, ‘Why isn’t everyone reading this story? Don’t they understand that this reporter is great and they found just the right person and just the right tone? And that it really helps you understand things?'” Rupar said. “This is also a chance to show people the one story you really wish that they would read.”

Drop Me The Link will publish its first edition this afternoon and the newsletter writers have been promoting the sign-up page with tweets, memes, and (what else?) a TikTok video.

POSTED     March 9, 2020, 2:25 p.m.
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