The SNO Report: Developing a News Digest

The earliest news digests were cave paintings. Newspapers? Humongous news digests. Post Reports, the Washington Post podcast, is an audible news digest for your morning commute. NextDraft, from Dave Pell, is a news digest landing in your email every afternoon. Fresh Powder, from us? The best news digest. The magazine your city sends you four times a year… you’re really going to make us say it?

News digests come in all shapes and sizes but are the same at their core. They roundup the news and make it more easily digestible.

Some are interview-based, others are all business. One adds a level of quirky commentary that can’t be found anywhere else, others aren’t written by us.

Do you have one?

Before you answer that, ask yourself, “How can we say we’re curating our news for a generation of readers with shorter attention spans and higher click rates than ever before, if we don’t?”

Here are five examples of news digests you can copy (three written, one emailed, the other spoken):

Wayland Student Press Network

In case you miss them, news editor Meredith Prince summarizes the top stories of each week, but makes sure the readers get a small taste of everything. That’s why the blurbs are organized neatly into News, Sports, Features, A&E and Multimedia sections. As is the core function of a publication’s news digest, she takes the whole website and shrinks it. A skilled, concise writer, Meredith leads readers into stories with her reporters as the subjects of her writing, incorporating clean hyperlinks and, at times, more than one plug within a single paragraph.

The Daily Eastern News

Written by editor-in-chief JJ Bullock, here’s a news digest that wastes no ink. It’s five things. It’s everyday. It’s just the news; by that I mean it’s just the facts. What did they do? When is the event? What was the score? Where’s the link to the story? Therein lies one of the luxuries of the college paper: Each nugget is tied to a story the DEN published.

The Poynter Report

Delivering a digestible summation of the news is a challenge. Adding commentary and perspective that expands upon that news is quite another. But when you’re doing it daily and for as long as Tom Jones has been, you’re going to develop a unique voice and deep knowledge of history that enables you to accomplish both.

The Rider Online

Fittingly titled “The Round Up,” this almost-weekly podcast threads together the top local news in a flash. No episode is longer than five minutes — few are longer than four — but there’s so much packed into them. Each episode is well-written and confidently narrated, in that nothing feels rushed through, and the added external soundbites from interviews are a perfect bonus. By The Rider Online, this an excellent, succinct example of a news briefing to play while you wait for your morning coffee to finish brewing.

The Booster Redux

If you want to retain your readers, don’t count on them coming back to your website unprompted. Don’t even count on them spotting your one tweet in their sea of a thousand others. Meet them in their inbox. The Booster Redux’s email is eye-catching yet easy, combining excellent art, bold headlines and bolder click-through buttons. Click, click.