4 Superb Ways to Skim the Daily News When You Are Busy

Akshata Shanbhag 09-09-2015

In these busy times, getting your daily dose of news is less of a mundane activity and more of a balancing act. Go about it the smart way by signing up for a news summary email.


You want to stay informed about the latest in the news. You want to be able to add to conversations about it, and do so intelligently.

But you just don’t have the time to read up on what’s going on in the world.

If that sounds like you, you’re in luck. Some resourceful netizens have understood your dilemma, and perhaps experienced it, too. And they have taken on the job of condensing the day’s top stories into digestible chunks for you. They do it for free, and send you the results in a daily email after you sign up for it.

Here are four such free email newsletters that are superb ways to read the news without getting clubbed over the head by it.



theSkimm seems to be the newsletter that everyone’s reading right now, and it’s easy to see why. Compelling headlines, facts delivered in a straightforward way, and cheeky commentary in all the right places. These factors combined are theSkimm’s main draw.

The newsletter begins with a “quote of the day”, goes into 4-5 select news items, and ends with a “thing to know” item. Sometimes you get book recommendations, too!

So your curiosity’s piqued and now you want to sign up for theSkimm. If you’re thinking a newsletter sample or two would have been nice, think no more. Visit theSkimm’s archive to read through the most recent Skimms.



Do check out the Skimm Guides section. It gives you a background on hot topics like net neutrality These Public Figures Have No Clue How Net Neutrality Works Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and other public figures don't seem to understand what net neutrality actually is. Read More , the Greek debt crisis, and the Ukraine conflict, in its usual snarky style. There’s also a section on the candidates of the 2016 US Presidential election.

While theSkimm’s marketing began with a focus on young women, its reach has gone far beyond those boundaries. The unconventional business strategies of the cofounders, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, seem to have paid off big time. theSkimm’s subscriber base is now upward of 1.5 million, and counting.



Dave Pell of NextDraft brings you a roundup of 10 news stories from across the Web. He covers everything from crashing markets to Internet debacles 3 Reasons Why The Ashley Madison Hack Is A Serious Affair The Internet seems ecstatic about the Ashley Madison hack, with millions of adulterers' and potential adulterers' details hacked and released online, with articles outing individuals found in the data dump. Hilarious, right? Not so fast. Read More . Well, what’s so unique about that, you ask? It’s Pell’s choice of stories and the pithy annotations he wraps them up in that make all the difference.


To get a preview of what you can expect in your inbox, go through the NextDraft archives and longform reads. Don’t forget to download NextDraft (iOS) on your iPhone/iPad to get Pell’s updates on the go. NextDraft is ad free thanks to a WordPress sponsorship.

Reading news stories in their usual format is fine. But wouldn’t you rather have a witty someone summing them up for you and putting things in perspective? Pell is passionate about playing the role of that someone, and he does it well. He’s like that friend/sibling/coworker who says the most entertaining things sotto voce at just the times when you can’t afford to laugh.



“When I was young, we had to buffer.” Those are the kinds of phrases I come up with to try to explain to my kids that broadband access wasn’t always so great. But to really give them an idea of what it was like, I take them on a plane, where, as Bloomberg reports, Gogo’s infuriatingly expensive, slow internet still owns the skies. (It’s somehow awesome that we all regularly complain about slow Internet access at 36,000 feet.)

~ From the NextDraft issue dated 26/08/2015

Need 2 Know

Need 2 Know brings you the latest updates in various fields — from world affairs to entertainment. If you wish someone would just give you the facts up front, you’ll appreciate its no-nonsense 3-4 line summaries.


With super short headlines and section headings like Tech, Box Office, Sports, etc., it’s easy to find the stuff that will interest you. Don’t miss the featured retweet at the end. Like this one:

You can visit the archives from the sidebar to see if Need 2 Know is the right newsletter for you. By the way, it has nothing to do with this now-retired newsletter.

Also, if you want to filter the news further and get a brief overview of just the top 5 things people are discussing right now, sign up for The Week’s 5 things you need to know now.

The Daily Water Cooler

The Daily Water Cooler does away with headlines altogether. It just focuses on bringing you the day’s news in short snippets across four categories: Business, Politics, Sports, and Culture. You’ll find links to related articles in some places.


Want something shareable to post on Twitter or Facebook? Head to the end of the newsletter to find links that’ll be perfect for this. You might want to go through the ten most recent issues of The Daily Water Cooler before signing up.


Flame War Alert

Having news summaries at your fingertips is great. These snippets of information come in handy when you want to get through newsy conversations without having to fake it.

But, stay aware of the knee-jerk reactions they evoke in you. We wouldn’t recommend blindly sharing these news items on social media or forming rigid opinions based on them. That could lead to online and offline disasters Arrested for a Tweet: When Twitter, Trolling, and the Law Collide The UK's communications act makes it a criminal offense to send "grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false" electronic messages, but enforcement isn't equal. Read More of the worst kind. Just go back to your day and nobody will get hurt.

Use summary websites to:

  • Get the gist of what’s going on, and
  • Track interesting and/or relevant reports that you can dig deeper into when you have a bit more time.

You know what would have made a great addition to this list? TabDump (on Twitter). Unfortunately it’s no longer around.

They Read, You Skim

You can choose your news sources with care. You can let apps learn your news reading preferences over time. But you still have to go through the curated articles 9 Ways to Get More Out of Pocket Pocket is the ultimate digital bookmarking service out there. Let's find out how to boost your Pocket experience with the right web apps and extensions. Read More  sooner or later, and this takes a considerable amount of time.

How about saving the long reads for when you have that time to spare? The sites mentioned above are a quicker way to “stay in the loop” every day without feeling overwhelmed. And if you want daily news summaries from the tech world, you know where to look, don’t you?

Note: In these newsletters, the news items that are “local” or “national” are US based. If you live in a different country, you’ll have to look elsewhere for stories that are more relevant to you. Or you could take the initiative and start a newsletter 3 Easy Ways to Start and Set Up an Email Newsletter If you write for the Web, building a good-sized readership is a necessary step in boosting your online authority. Starting a newsletter is one effective way to go about it. Read More  yourself.

Which websites and newsletters do you rely on to get brief news updates when you’re busy? Share your sources with us in the comments.

Image Credits:Newspapers by Mukhina Viktoriia via Shutterstock

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  1. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Akshata -

    Phil here from The Daily Water Cooler. Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to feature my newsletter! I write the entire thing myself every morning and it's been a labor of love over the past two years.

    Other great newsletters I love:
    - Benedict Evan's
    - Jason Hirschhorn's MediaREDEF
    - Quartz Daily Brief
    - NYT Now

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      September 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Hey Phil,
      I was happy to cover The DWC :) Thanks for dropping by (and for sharing those resources).

  2. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    "You want to stay informed about the latest in the news."
    I want to be INFORMED about the latest news, I don't want to be TOLD what is and is not news. How can some algorithm know what news I want to read if I don't know it myself until I look through the paper?

    If you let some algorithm skim the news for you then you are letting someone else pre-digest it for you and put their spin on it. You are letting someone else think for you. Might as well get your news only from FOX or CNBC.

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      September 11, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      You don't have to buy someone's else spin on a story.

      "Use summary websites to:

      Get the gist of what’s going on, and
      Track interesting and/or relevant reports that you can dig deeper into when you have a bit more time."