Old formats, new combinations: How newsletters represent innovation and blurring boundaries in digital journalism

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


On March 24, 2014, The New York Times released its innovation report, where newsletters appeared as part of a new newsroom strategy that focused on stand-alone innovative products. At that time, the media brand was sending approximately 30 editorial e-mails newsletters to 6.5 million subscribers. Three years later, it has 64 newsletters and more than 13 million subscribers. But it is not one media’s formula. In August 2018, The Guardian had 48 newsletters, most of them released every day of the week. In the last years, the new digital ecosystem increased the rhythm of change and broke old boundaries: the “people formerly called the audience” (Gilmor, 2006, p. 30) suddenly became co-creators of media, the convergence of media and techniques resulted in hybrid forms of reporting and storytelling and the traditional advertising model was replaced by one sustained in a mix of revenue. This blurring of boundaries involves “peoples, practices, and places” (Carlson, 2015, p.2). This period of uncertain and adaptation to a new ecosystem led the media to innovate, seeking “new combinations”, using Schumpeter’s words (1934, p. 78), of existing resources or the ones provided by the digital environment. In this context, newsletters arose as an opportunity to engage with readers or niche segments, curate content and empower the journalists. There is a vast amount of literature about journalism in a digital environment, but the one that addresses specifically newsletters as a new format and a product of media innovation is scarce. This paper aims to analyse media newsletters using Storsul & Krumsvik (2013) tipology, centered in product, process, position and paradigmatic innovation. Three research questions are addressed: 1) which are the main editorial characteristics of these newsletters, regarding scope, periodicity, authors, alignment, narrative and use of digital features?; 2) which are the main innovative aspects regarding the product, the process, the position and paradigm of the media brand they belong to? 3) which of these characteristics can be considered patterns of this editorial product? To answer these questions, we conducted a content analysis of the 112 newsletters of two major media brands – The New York Times, from USA, and The Guardian, from UK. The preliminary findings of the analysis of 336 editions show us that there is a focus on curation, explanation and cross-tagging, breaking the boundaries between the website sections and the news genres. The newsletter appeared as an important extension of the brand positioning in journalism
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2019
EventECREA Journalism Studies Conference 2019: Breaking Binaries: Exploring the Diverse Meanings of Journalism in Contemporary Societies - University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 14 Feb 201915 Feb 2019


ConferenceECREA Journalism Studies Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleECREA Journalism Studies Conference 2019
Internet address


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