13 newsletters for upping your media IQ

Like any other industry, media is an amalgamation; a pulsating admixture of anxiety, ideology, cacophony and pure green envy.

The products churned out by the Media Machine—everything from Twitter posts and Instagram stories to long-form features and investigative reports—are often the end result of thousands of hours of labor and trillions of dollars of research, development, designers, and endless platoons of white- and blue-collar peons.

The Machine needs these armies, too. If there’s a screen in your life, you’re part of an audience of seven billion-and-counting. That’s a lot of minds to feed and, more importantly, a lot of behaviors to exploit. Those who do it well can convince you that Coke has health benefits, or that $100 is a good deal for a t-shirt, or to elect a fascist president.

This is why I’ve become an advocate of media IQ; or, the degree of your ability to understand that your opinion is manufactured – and to interpret how this actually happens.

In a media age dominated by fake news, conspiracy theories and nuclear dick fights, your media IQ can literally mean the difference between life and death. And whether you’re a journalist, writer, videographer, PR agent, publicist, or just an everyday user, a strong media IQ help you become both a competent communications professional and a conscientious consumer.

So to help build your media IQ, I’ve assembled this list of media, journalism and PR newsletters worth a few minutes of your daily time. Together they form an inside look at the trends, tactics and tricks the machine uses to make you think that you’re thinking for yourself. (Listed alphabetically and linked directly to the sign-up forms, so you don’t need to click around):

American Press Institute: Need to Know
If you only subscribe to one newsletter on this list, make it this. A daily newsletter with inside takes on trending news, and outside views of journalism’s inner workings.

Columbia Journalism Review: The Media Today
“A daily look at the biggest stories in journalism” from one of the top journalism schools in the country. Always well written and packed with original research.

A twice-weekly newsletter from the European press review, with content categorized into debates and dossiers, both about the state of European journalism and major news.

Institute for Public Relations: Research Letter
The IPR is a half-century old PR research organization, staking claim on “the science beneath the art of public relations™. A strong (and occasionally stuffy) trove of valuable research.

Journalism.co.uk Daily Newsletter
Though technically a UK jobs site lacking a clever name, Journalism.co.uk also serves as a center for media tips, guides, events, training and other services. Not a must-read, but useful.

Journalist’s Resource (Harvard Kennedy School)
Similar to the CJR newsletter, but with more Ivy League pretense. Lots of original research, studies-of-studies, and “tip sheets” loaded with journalism advice and resources.

Muck Rack Daily
Muck Rack is one of the top PR and journalism platforms and this newsletter is a handsome bit of content marketing, but it has a lot of smart insights and pontifications on trending topics.

Nieman Lab: Daily Email Updates
Hands down the best way to understand the ever-evolving state of modern media media is continually evolving. A must read for anyone, regardless of profession.

Pew Research: Media & News Briefings
Data nerds already know about Pew Research, but their media and news briefings always give you a first-hand look into major news trends, usually before they hit the headlines.

Poynter Institute: Morning MediaWire
Another newsletter from another journalism school. API will often pick up Poynter stories and vice-versa, but it’s informative background a smart way to start the day.

PR News: The Skinny
PR News is the main trade rag for the PR industry, but The Skinny is weekly, so it doesn’t overburden. Covers the trends and conversations around social media, marketing PR.

PR Week: Weekly Online Edition
Similar to PR News, PR Week covers a lot of trade topics, but also offers a PR view of major news topics. Relevant for people working on the politics and public affairs side of PR.

Ragan’s PR Daily: News Feed
If you subscribe to any of Ragan’s newsletters, you might get ten emails per day. Lots of “thought leadership” from budding professionals, but sometimes the advice is useful.

By Ben van Loon

Writer, Researcher, Chicagoan

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