I know. You survived 2020; the sun is shining and you’d like permission to turn off the nerve-jolting news alerts and think your own thoughts for a while. This is the summer to #FreeBritney, unlearn epidemiology, and watch the postponed Olympics — still branded Tokyo 2020, because it’s the year that will never end. You’d like to let anyone else worry about the global supply chain and the fairness of the filibuster.
But you have to keep an eye on the world, even for a little bit every week, just in case it all goes wobbly again. And at every moment, a firehose of information is coming at you, spewing outrage. No two news outlets seem to share the same set of facts, and everyone on every screen is a self-anointed expert. You’re so exhausted by dark-days-for-humanity headlines, you just want to mute your devices and close your eyes. You want to power down without giving up your power.
This is where The News (Not Noise) Letter comes in.
I’m Jessica Yellin, the founder of News Not Noise. For years, I worked in network news at ABC, MSNBC, and CNN, where I was the Chief White House Correspondent. I covered my share of conflict and crisis — the scary kind and the other kind, manufactured on the campaign trail. I’ve reported from around the world and won awards.
The more years I got under my belt as a reporter, the more I became convinced that the news doesn't speak to a large part of the audience.
In the summer of 2018, I did something different. The midterm elections were approaching and friends asked me to explain what the heck was happening in the political cycle.
So, I picked up my phone and began posting short, daily explainer videos on Instagram. Gradually, by word of mouth and magical algorithms, the videos took off. People asked for more explanations. And I kept it going.
What started with me and a ring light is now a small team, dedicated to giving you news in a different voice. We aim to provide facts, not panic attacks. We interview real experts — like Dr. Fauci — not pundits.
My goal is to provide the understanding you need to engage in the conversation and take action in the world. And so far, it’s been working — we've connected with almost half a million of you on Instagram.
Now, we are launching this newsletter to help you discern which stories are news and which are noise. Once a week we’ll break down the NEWS: information that shapes your personal choices, your understanding of the world, your engagement with others and, crucially, your vote. What do you need to know about homegrown extremism? What's up with the electric grid in Texas? How should you talk to your kids about the world after lockdown? Where does police reform stand?
And we’ll call out the NOISE: hint, it often involves countdown clocks, infinite ‘what ifs’, bright red banners, shouty headlines, and Twitter tiffs — the frothy ephemera that’s big on spectacle, low on consequence, and engineered to generate clicks and ratings.
When there isn’t a lot worth knowing, we promise not to manufacture drama or compete for your anxiety. In fact, here are some of my tips for keeping your zen while staying on top of the news.
Finally, I am here because I care and I chose team members who do too. We want to help you navigate the news and the noise so you are a more informed participant in our democracy. I ask this in return: be kind. We want your feedback and know you won’t always agree with our take or with one another — but please do it with civility. If you feel the need to eviscerate people with whom you disagree, there are about a zillion other places to do that online.
To get a sense of the kind of work we do, here are some highlights from the last year:
This team has interviewed presidents, politicians, and power-brokers — now, we’re here for you, every Wednesday morning. To those of you who signed up months ago, thank you for your patience. To those of you who signed up last week, we’re excited to have you on board as part of our growing community. Please share The News (Not Noise) Letter with your friends!