“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
It’s always fun to have a peek behind the curtain, so today we’re giving you just that.
A lot of work goes into making sure you are caught up on everything you need to know in the mornings. Our Briefings give you the vital information you need to know before you go on about your day. But a lot of effort has gone into getting them where they are now.
Enough of the overwhelm
Briefings are part of the Mogul News vision. We, as readers, are overwhelmed by the amount of news that greets us every morning. Newsletters flood our inboxes. Similarly, reading articles takes time and often doesn’t give us the context we need or want.
So, we’ve made something markedly better.
The beginnings of the Briefings
When we first started our Briefings, they were shared only with the Mogul News team. We knew they weren’t ready for you. We had to get better at putting them together and then make sure they really delivered on their promise.
The Briefings were inspired by Rav’s time at Goldman Sachs. There they would have Market Wraps, where people had a few minutes to tell their team what was going on in the world. Focusing on insights over fluff, they helped people hone in on opportunities in a concise and informative way. We took that idea – real, actionable insights over just fluff – and made it the core of the Briefings.
Choosing the best possible content
Rav and I spent a lot of mornings interrogating them. We’d ask questions. What does that mean? Why is that important? Who cares? Where does this fit in? What makes this interesting?
We took the time to draft and redraft them. We wanted to hit certain key points.
- Each Briefing had to give you context, giving you a reason why this was important.
- There should be at least three points you took away from each Briefing. Three facts, three figures, that really boiled down the story to its essential parts.
- We had to get the style right. Not stuffy, but not too informal. We aimed to sound like a really well-informed friend.
The goal was to make sure you came away feeling confident talking about the stories.
We had constraints, of course. The major one was our word limit. The Briefings are designed to give you the most value in the least time. No one story comes in at over 90 words. Trying to get everything we wanted in, the context, the key points, the balanced style, took a lot of practice.
Once we nailed the format and style, we then needed to write them every morning. We needed to go out and gather all the information to boil the news down for you. We do the work for you.
How it’s made: the research
Putting together the morning’s Briefings starts the day before. Throughout the day we are looking out for the most important, most consequential and sometimes just the most interesting stories.
A shortlist of headlines is put together and some research is done. Key facts, key figures, the most important pieces of context are gathered together. They form the skeleton of the story.
Often though we don’t know all the facts. It might take time for them to come out. Sometimes an important story will break overnight. You can’t prepare for that the night before.
How we don’t do it
So, a lot, most, of the work takes place in the morning. I wake up early to get started.
It looks like what someone obsessed with the news would do. Phone in hand, the kettle is boiling for the first cup of coffee of the day. I check all the major newspapers and news outlets. Both Twitter and LinkedIn offer good hints for what people have been talking about overnight.
How it’s made: the construction
With the research mostly complete, the shortlist is narrowed further. Stories are dropped, others replace them. The coverage has to be right. Tech, business, politics and global affairs are all important. The stories chosen are important, intriguing and interesting. It is hard to say how you know a story is all those things, but you know it when you see it.
Five basic questions are asked. What? When? Where? Who? Why? The answers are jotted down and then written up. Adding in the context, the detail that really gives you the reason to care about a story, is usually the hardest part. That bit comes in the headline.
Take, for example, Danish elections. Who cares? Well, you should. The latest polls from Denmark show a way for centre and centre-left parties to fight back against the rising tide of populism. The what, the who, and the why it’s important are all packed into thirty words. How? Tighter immigration controls. And that’s a little bit of context as well. The Briefing ends with some hard facts and numbers.
The notes are typed up, published in the app and then I let you know they’re ready to read with a push notification.
Your mornings are free
I get ready and then head into the office. During my commute, I always look to see what news people are reading on their phones. People scroll then flick between different stories, then scroll some more. They read newsletters, scrolling and scrolling.
In contrast, I read a book or listen to a podcast. I relax a little before the rest of the day gets started. That’s what I want the Briefings to do. Give you the chance to relax. You know what’s going on. You’re informed and can subsequently talk about the news. No more endless scrolling, always with the feeling that you aren’t caught up.
The Briefings give you that peace of mind. I’m done. I’ve got the important facts on the major stories. I can read an in-depth analytical piece, a really meaty bit of content if I want. Or I can sit back and make some progress on the novel I’m reading (it’s Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris right now if you want to know).
It takes a lot of effort to be effortless. That’s what we hope the Briefings are. An effortless way to get caught up on the news.