In the Era of Fake News, Is theSkimm Really the Problem?

A Slate article titled “The Skimm Is the Ivanka Trump of Newsletters” came out recently. In it, the author slams theSkimm, a daily newsletter targeted toward 20-and 30-something year old women, for providing digestible news pieces in a tone that’s equivalent to “verbal eye rolls.”

According to the author, the mere existence of such a newsletter is insulting because it patronizes women, and it’s “scary as hell” because people actually read it. In some ways, I see her point. It’s tone is irreverent and sometimes flippant. But in the era of busy schedules, short attention spans and endless celebrity gossip, wouldn’t we rather people read theSkimm than nothing at all, or even worse, fake news?

theSkimm isn’t a news organization pumping out fake news or outlandish political theories – it’s a daily newsletter that helps millions of people understand what’s going on in the world. And it links to credible news sources so people can continue to learn, if they so wish.

One of the author’s main problems with it is that “Every blurb is painstakingly neutered of political slant or analysis, and boring (read: important) stories are loaded with conspicuous snark about how uninteresting news can be.”

Let’s face the facts, sometimes the news is boring and it can be complicated to understand. So if “conspicuous snark” is going to get a 20-something millennial woman, who otherwise wouldn’t be informed on the topic, interested – why is that so bad?

And perhaps the people who read theSkimm don’t want political slant or analysis. It’s possible  they want to know the facts, devoid of political analysis, so they can form their own opinions. Quite frankly, I think it’s somewhat refreshing.

The real problem

If this author truly believes it’s a good idea to to tell the millions of people (myself included) who read theSkimm that they are dangerous because they aren’t doing enough to overcome their ignorance, then this frightens me. It’s this type of condescending rhetoric, with its broad generalizations and lack of supporting facts, that is scarier than anything theSkimm puts out. Because it makes only broadens the divide that exists in this country.

To provide some context, I am a bleeding heart liberal. A diehard feminist. An avid reader of  nerdy historical books, stories of strong feminists, and occasionally, a Nora Roberts novel. I dislike Ivanka Trump just as much as this author does. I do think people need to be more informed on what’s happening in the world, should read from a variety of credible publications and ought to form their own opinions.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned in my limited time writing opinion pieces, it’s that no one typically cares what I think they should do – especially if I make no effort to understand their point of view, provide no supporting facts and shaming them in the process.

Articles like the one from Slate just show how much we haven’t learned much since the last election. Looking down on people, instead of trying to understand them, will do nothing to bring us together. It will only force us further apart.

At the end of the article, the author laments that “these people can vote” and when Ivanka Trump runs for president, “the Skimm and its several electoral votes worth of readers will be all in for her.”

If that is the case, it won’t be because they read theSkimm. It will be because they read articles like the one from Slate and close their ears to anything else we have to say.

And that’s what scares the hell out of me.

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Katelyn Stiver

Katelyn Stiver is a marketing professional with a love for online shopping, social media, food, CrossFit and any brand of TV/movie streaming service. She is a proud alum of Kent State University and lives in Copley with her husband, and her adorable dog, Johnnie Walker Texas Ranger.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Ugh, I feel like the article attacking theSkimm was just an excuse to go after millennial women for being flippant, superficial, lazy, etc., etc. etc.

    I appreciate theSkimm for two reasons: it makes it easy to follow certain pieces of news I maybe haven’t been that focused on (we can’t all be up to date on everything) and it often provides context, either right in the email or links back to other editions. So if I missed or forgot something (I know, flighty millennial female!), it’s all right there for me. I don’t love its tone but I skim it (-> see what I did there) for the content.

    Also, I am pretty sure theSkimm would encourage people to go read news outlets for in-depth coverage. I mean the name is SKIMM - I think their whole point is, hey this is a brief overview so please check this out and then go onto other pieces for more.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Some days, I can’t read everything so I appreciate the digest — it doesn’t mean I don’t care or that I’m just in it for the “superficial knowledge.”

  • I’m not a millennial, but I’m a very busy parent, an engaged community member and an avid reader. For years, when my children were young, I prayed (and even asked my millennial sister-in-law to start) something like theSkimm. The real problem is a 24-hour news cycle which inundated us with so much information that no human being can keep up! Thankfully, several reputable news sources now offer a “daily round up” including NPR, so I usually listen to a daily podcast while I drive. I’m confident this guy will get his comeuppance quickly from all the smart and well-informed millennials I know!

  • I’ve never read The Skimm but that is how the Wall Street Journal used to be written and was supposed to be read. There was a main column on the front page with titles of articles and a short sentence or two or three about it with a reference to where the rest of the article on the subject was in the paper. You read that whole column first then any articles that matter to you most. You might not care about what’s happening to Heinz but if you own a significant portion of shares in Boeing, you might want to know about that. Most people will read stories that could move the whole market. You could also read the section of the paper on politics. Now very quickly you are caught up on the major news stories of the day.

    As far as not having commentary and only stating facts, THAT’S WHAT THE NEWS IS SUPPOSED TO BE! If I want to know what a reporter thinks of the news, I’ll watch a show dedicated to that. Reporters are supposed to REPORT the news, not MAKE the news. That’s why they’re called REPORTERS, not news makers.

    I don’t read The Skimm and I haven’t read the article written by the fool you speak of but as a 50 year old woman who’s been around this earth a little longer, he sounds like your typical mysongonist that believes women are stupid. In this case he’s targetting young women.

  • Tthere are so many points to discuss on this topic, but I’ll just go with the one that’s near and dear to me.

    It’s really unfortunate that this writer is targeting theSkimm. TheSkimm daily news email is read by over 5 million people. The Company has received a lot of praise and business since it has cracked the code on how to reach millennials, especially women, something that many companies, agencies and researchers have been trying to accomplish. Yes, the writing is witty and reads like you are talking to your best friend with inside jokes, but that’s they key. The founders of theSkimm realized exactly how their peers would want to hear the news and it looks like it’s working. Without tools like theSkimm; many millennials will not be receiving the news. With tons of distractions and multimedia competing for attention, theSkimm breaks through the noise and for that people should be happy that something is working. I’m an avid reader of theSkimm and I’ll admit on busy days sometimes that’s the only way I’m receiving my news, especially when I just need the Cliff-notes version. It keeps me up-to-date while providing talking points to share around the watercooler. Would this writer rather have millennial women be ignorant and reality-TV obsessed?

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