Newsletters, push notifications and podcasts: How newsrooms handled a crazy week of news

They were delivered to our phones, our inboxes and our earbuds, one after the other, in rat-a-tat bursts.

Monday: The Washington Post reveals President Trump disclosed intelligence to Russians. Tuesday: The New York Times reports James Comey kept explosive memos about his interactions with the president. Wednesday: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named special counsel in charge of the Russia-Trump investigation. Friday: The Washington Post reports the Trump-Russia investigation has reached the White House. Not to be outdone, The New York Times reveals President Trump called Comey a "nut job."

But as the tilt-a-whirl of news continued to spin, publications found new ways to keep news consumers from falling off throughout the week. Double push notifications, podcast extras and twice-daily newsletters all helped journalists hawk their news and analysis when the scoops started flying. Here's a quick recap:

Double push notifications…

Several news organizations decided that last week's news merited a flood-the-zone on that most hallowed of territory, our phone lock screens. As and Nieman Lab both noted last week, journalists at CNN, BuzzFeed and The New York Times all sent push notifications to alert readers of developments in the ongoing story, some multiple times per day.

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Here's how Eric Bishop, a Times assistant editor for mobile, explained to Nieman Lab a decision to launch a double push notification for Michael Schmidt's scoop on President Trump's conversation with Comey:

'We know a lot of people get their news from pushes predominantly,' said Eric Bishop, a Times assistant editor for mobile. 'I think being able to tell two sides of this story — one that explained the main news and then the other that had that color with the quote — gave people a second element of the story, and if they didn’t swipe into read it, they knew more about the full story,' he said. 'It also was another entry point, another compelling aspect of it that might make you want to swipe in and read it.' reports that CNN sent 11 push notifications between May 9 and May 16.

Newsletter writers working overtime

The relentless pace of developments and instantaneous publishing (on Twitter, for example) has demolished the traditional news cycle.

But there are still a few moments where millions of people agree to put the news cycle on pause, at least briefly, to take stock of what's happened and what's still to come. A few of those consensus moments: Daily print editions. Evening newscasts. And email newsletters.

I noticed last week that two of the most devoted chroniclers of the back-and-forth scoop war, CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter and WTF Happened Today founder Matt Kiser, were publishing multiple editions of their daily must-reads. The CNN Reliable Sources newsletter, usually a night-cap for the day's media news, appeared in my inbox multiple times per day on May 16 and 18, with news of the Comey scoop and the death of former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, respectively.

WTF Happened Today also upped its frequency as the bombshells continued to rain.

The Daily Double

Such was the velocity of the news emerging from The Trump White House last week that podcasting, generally a weekly affair, dipped its toes into the realm of twice-daily news. The Daily, a fast-evolving journalistic staple from The New York Times, offered an extra edition as the week drew to a close to discuss disclosure of President Trump calling Comey a "nut job."

Friday afternoon's edition of The Daily featured a behind-the-scenes conversation with reporters Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman, the latter of which leavened last week's disclosures by noting that President Trump doesn't actually believe he's done anything wrong. There was also lively conversation between the three about leaking at the White House, which gave readers a rare glimpse at the context for reporting anonymous sources in The New York Times.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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