You fool, this isn't even my semaform.
Listen You Dummy
If you want to launch a new publication but you don’t want to experiment with the ownership structure or the business model, you only have one choice: to invent a gimmicky story format. This format must strike a difficult balance—flattering your reader’s discerning eye for news and respecting their valuable time, but also reassuring them that they will uniquely be able to understand your news with their tiny idiot hamster brain. So Vox invented both its now-abandoned card stack and its recently revitalized StoryStream, Axios has “Smart Brevity,” Politico has “conventional wisdom,” Puck has its hard, indigestible “news pucks,” even Tabs has our trademark “baffling chaos.” But today the Smiths dot news launched Semafor with what I’m certain will come to be the prevalent news story format of the future: the Semaform.
What is the Semaform? Executive Editor Gina Chua explains:
We’re breaking articles into:
The Reporter’s View (or analysis)
Room For Disagreement (or counterargument)
The View From (or different perspectives on the topic)
Notable (or some of the best other writing on the subject)
Confused? Of course you are. According to our content strategy memo you can barely read. So let’s break this down into a more digestible info-slurry:
The News: What crusty media dinosaurs would have called “the lede,” or the first couple paragraphs.
The Reporter’s View: What Grandpa would have wheezily described as “the rest of the article.” What an old dingbat! Love that guy though. He survived the plague.
Room For Disagreement: Old fashioned news websites used to have a “Comments” section where any idiot could spout off about anything. Semafor cannily replaced this with just one comment by just one idiot, carefully chosen by the reporter. Smart!
The View From: A special section to add some random information from “places where the press isn’t free,” such as China, Nairobi, or James Bennet.
Notable: Traditionally known as “the chumbox,” this is where Semafor will link to Skin Thing and Weird Food.
The Tuesday Quiz
With only the brief explanation above, I bet you’ll have no trouble identifying what section each of the following excerpts came from:
If you said (A) “The Scoop,” (B) “The News,” (C) “Know More,” and (D) “Reed’s View,” then you’ve already got the hang of it. Simple!
The View From Space
While it’s not clear whether the future is random section headers and arbitrary boldfacing, nor is it clear whether Semafor is actually just eight newsletters in a trenchcoat, what is clear is that the best thing about Semafor so far is this weird backward-spinning globe doodle on the homepage.
Oh yeah there’s also the events business, SemaForks. Excuse me, “3D journalism platform.”
Buy Buy Birdie
Today in Tabs’s 3D newslettering platform is your body, which I’m now calling TodaX in TabX. To finally experience the third dimension in newsletters, please buy one of our increasingly scarce You Can Always Quit t-shirts, now with free shipping!
NYC boldly asks residents to put trash out later. Hell Gate columnist A. Rat responds. “Shein is even worse than you thought.” Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz in NYMag (Via Channel 4) drastically overestimates what I thought of Shein. The New York Times found the clitoris. Jokes aside, this is a really great story. Also great but inherently funny, “More Proof That This Really Is the End of History” by yr boy Francis Fukuyama. Seriously you guys, this time? Definitely the end of history. I mean it. “Tiny cretin of a man” James Corden banned from Balthazar but later un-banned. Terrible mistake. Clio Chang’s “Helicopter Landlord” story has the group chat divided between people who think this is normal human behavior and people who desperately want a faceless impersonal landlord experience. “Majority of Tory party members want Liz Truss to resign now - as Boris Johnson tops list to replace PM.” RIP any hope of satirizing British politics. Meanwhile in the U.S., Tulsi Gabbard compared Joe Biden to Hitler, which is pretty bad even before you learn her point was that Hitler had some good ideas.
The ghosts are hooooOOOOOoooorrrrrnyyyyyy.
Another Tweet (That Is Actually Just a TikTok)
Sing, O Muse
Vundabar, “Shadow Boxing”
If you give me $25 million, I promise not to spend it reinventing the news. If you don’t have $25 million, please give me $35 but I might reinvent the news just a tiny bit with it, no promises.
It’s pronounced “SEE-ma-FORE-ee-um.” Rhymes with “crematorium.”
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