Simon Owens: Email newsletters are the new zines
Caroline Crampton isn’t lacking for an audience. A longtime political journalist, she’s been a web editor for the New Statesman, the 103-year-old British political and cultural magazine, since 2012. In addition to penning articles for the magazine, she also co-hosts a pop culture podcast with her colleague Anna Leszkiewicz. She has an active Tumblr blog, 4,000 followerson Twitter, and even occasionally appears as a commentator on mainstream news programming.
Yet every week Crampton sits down to write So far, I’ve had no complaints, a newsletter she sends out each Friday. With most issues clocking in at about 1,000 words, So far, I’ve had no complaints is broken down into several eclectic and mostly unrelated sections — “Things to read,” a mixture of blockquotes and commentary on what she considers the best journalism published that week; “Things to listen to,” a roundup of podcasts she recommends; “Things to watch,” assorted web videos; “Compulsory medieval thingamabob,” a strange image that I can only infer came from a medieval painting or illustration; and “The guest gif,” which is basically just an amusing GIF to close out the newsletter.
Crampton launched the newsletter in 2014 after noticing how newly-popularized link aggregators that focused on highlighting serious, in-depth journalism — Longform, Longreads,The Browser — were rather homogeneous with their selections. “They were patrolling the same beat where everything serious or good coincidentally happened to be written by men about men,” she told me in a phone interview. “And this made me so cross because there are so many other great things out there on the internet written by all kinds of people doing all sorts of things.” She’d complain to her colleagues about this but they always replied with the same solution: “They said, ‘If you care so much about this then why don’t you point people toward things that you think are great?’”