Introducing The Current Affairs Biweekly News Briefing

It’s increasingly difficult to find and digest reliable and useful information about the world. Here at Current Affairs, we’re trying to fix that. Sign up for our brand new news briefing.

I can’t stand reading the news. This is not just because so much of it is depressing and makes me feel powerless and adrift, although that’s certainly part of it. It’s also just difficult to curate the information I want to know about the world. A lot that’s important is trapped behind paywalls, and I can’t afford to buy hundreds of dollars worth of monthly subscriptions. Even the stuff that isn’t behind paywalls is often littered with “native advertising” that looks like legitimate news content, meaning that trying to read my local paper involves playing a game of “find the news.” I hate it. I have to trawl across a dozen publications, stumbling into paywalls half the time I want to read something interesting, hacking my way through a thicket of hot takes, just trying to figure out the basic facts of what’s going on in the world each day. Every morning I wish someone would fix this and just curate for me a good, well-researched, left analysis of the news. 

I suspect a lot of other people feel similarly. And so I’m pleased to announce that Current Affairs is starting the Current Affairs Biweekly News Briefing, a newsletter published through Substack that will offer a deeply-researched digest of global events. The hope is that, while it can’t be as thorough as the full New York Times, it will be a much better reading experience and anyone who peruses it will be just as well-informed as someone who reads the newspaper every day. Current Affairs prioritizes reader enjoyment and we want to produce a news briefing that’s a pleasure to read and gives you everything you need to know. 

Inside you’ll find: 

  • Summaries and analysis of the top stories around the country and the world
  • Overlooked but critically important stories that you wouldn’t have seen if you weren’t subscribed to our news briefing 
  • Links to things across the internet you don’t want to miss reading
  • Mockery of the terrible opinions of the country’s most useless and overpaid pundits
  • Quotes of the week, quizzes, and various comic amusements

The Biweekly News Briefing is, to start with, coming out twice a week. Daily seems a bit too often (they’ll pile up in your inbox like unread New Yorkers pile up in people’s bathrooms). Weekly is not timely enough. So it’ll initially be coming out on Mondays and Thursdays. It’ll be thorough without being overwhelming, entertaining without sacrificing Moral Seriousness. It’ll have summaries of all the major news stories, plus links to interesting things around the internet, and bits of light frivolity. My hope is that we can really deliver something you’ll look forward to receiving and will read end to end. As usual with Current Affairs, it’s not going to have any ads, as the priority is giving you something worthwhile. 

You do have to pay for it. I wish you didn’t, since my dislike of paywalls is well known. But we want to pay a team of writers and researchers to produce it, and that costs money, and we refuse to deluge you with ads. So we have to charge you money so we can pay for the labor that will make it really good. No money, no briefing. We really need at least 1,000 subscribers to make it sustainable at the level of quality I’m hoping it will achieve, so please consider signing up. We’re offering a free trial so you can see what it’s like. 

I have high hopes for this newsletter. I’m really proud of our print magazine, to which you should also subscribe (we’ll soon be offering discounted magazine subscriptions to news briefing subscribers). But it’s always been a bit ironic that our print publication is called Current Affairs, given that we deliberately fill it with distinctly non-topical takes on everything from ’60s activism to Charlie Chaplin movies. More than one reader has said over the years that they wish Current Affairs would offer some more timely takes on the news of the day. I’ve always agreed with this, but our tiny publication hasn’t had the infrastructure to do it until now. Under the able command of our writer Stephen Prager (with editing work and additional contributions by myself and managing editor Lily Sánchez), the Current Affairs Biweekly News Briefing is going to be exactly the kind of sharp, informative, and entertaining distillation of the news that everyone needs in a time of information overload and chaotically unreliable sources. With a misinformation apocalypse looming before us, we need more than ever to have trustworthy researchers who will sort sense from nonsense. 

I don’t think, as some people do, that everyone is craving “unbiased” news. I think they want news they can trust to be well researched and reliable, even if the messengers obviously have a pretty strong set of political commitments (as this magazine does). Current Affairs does not promise you that we’re going to be nice to Republicans or establishment Democrats. What we do promise is that we’ll never lie to you, and we’ll be self-critical and careful to present things as fairly as we can. My hope is that you’ll enjoy the result as much as our readers tell us they enjoy our print magazine. This is a really exciting new project for us, and I hope you’ll help us build our readership!


Read our first News Briefing free on Substack.

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