The Splice Guide to some of Asia’s most useful newsletters

Ignore the boring work emails. There's great content just waiting to hit your inboxes.

By Alan Soon
Splice Singapore

This is just the beginning of a list. But this is a good start if you’re looking for Asia-based newsletters. 

We’ll keep this updated. At some point, we’ll get around to putting this into a sortable Airtable. But for now, this will have to do.

Tell us what’s missing here or if any the links don’t work. But tell us if this is useful.
Drop us an email or tweet us.

REGIONAL

Dari Mulut Ke Mulut by Erin Cook
Our favorite weekly wrap of Southeast Asia by Australian journo Erin Cook. Covers politics and society. Recommended. Jakarta-based.

Coconuts
Funky stories out of Asia, like Prayuth’s latest poem. Based all around Asia.

Aseophile
Kevin McSpadden’s weekly wrap of stories in East and Southeast Asia.

Asian Scientist
Covers science, tech and medical news across Asia.

MEDIA

10000Hacks
There aren’t that many media newsletters in the region, so this is a nice discovery out of Bangalore. This is written by Jayadevan PK, the product head at FactorDaily. It goes to journalists, decision-makers and product people.

CHINA

Magpie Kingdom
A fascinating look at contemporary youth China. Hip hop, marriage, male idols, video. A favorite.

The SupChina Newsletter
Business, political and cultural news about China.

Sixth Tone
Reports on issues and events across China. Part of Shanghai United Media Group.

Sinocism
Bill Bishop’s daily updates, $15-a-month subscription. New Yorker calls it “the presidential daily brief for China hands.”

TECH

Asia Tech Review by Jon Russell
Jon writes for TechCrunch. This weekly newsletter wraps up the week in Asian tech.

The Daily Briefing by TechNode
Beijing-based, covers the Chinese tech and startup space. Asia’s TechCrunch.

Analyse Asia Weekly Review by Bernard Leong
Bernard’s weekly newsletter on tech and investments in Asia. Singapore-based.

Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Taipei-based, known for its deep insights into the tech space. Subscription based. Indispensable reading for many in the tech startup space.

TechInAsia
Daily briefings on the Asian tech space. Singapore-based.

e27
Covers Asia’s tech startup ecosystem. Singapore-based.

Newley’s Notes by Newley Purnell
WSJ reporter Newley Purnell’s writings on tech and startups. Delhi-based.

If you like this list, you should see our guide to Asia-based podcasts.

POD ME UP

BUSINESS

Forward Guidance Asia Edition by Bloomberg
The latest on what’s moving markets across Asia, sent every morning. Via Hong Kong.

The Daily Brief by DealStreetAsia
Tracks investment deals — PE, VC and M&A — across ASEAN and India.

Bluenotes
A newsletter from ANZ offering insights, opinion and research on the region’s economy and financial services.

MARKETING

Mumbrella Asia
Covers marketing and advertising. Singapore-based, edited daily by Eleanor Dickinson.

Daily Briefing Asia Pacific by The Drum
A daily roundup of stuff happening in marketing and advertising. Edited out of Singapore by Charlotte McEleny.

NOTABLES

Fosfr by Santosh Nair
An eclectic mix of intellectually fascinating stories on entrepreneurship, creativity, science, technology. Aims to be “The Economist” of newsletters. Twice a week. Recommended. Singapore-based.

Squiz Today
A fun weekday news email targeted at “time-poor, information-hungry girlfriends.” Sydney-based.

WWWarisan: Heritage Sites
Soon-Tzu Speechley’s newsletter on conservation, heritage and architecture in Asia.

ArtsEquator
Covers the art and culture scene in Southeast Asia. Singapore-based not-for-profit.

Remo Daily
A daily newsletter out of Ulaanbaatar, covering general news. In Mongolian.

Frontier Myanmar
Reports on news and issues in Myanmar.

Weekly Burma Newsletter People
Another one on Myanmar, written by journo Victoria Milko. Recommended.

Eco-Business
Targeted at the sustainable business community in Asia. Singapore-based.

Our Better World
Funded by the Singapore International Foundation, which aims to bring together communities to do good.

Alan Soon

Co-Founder, CEO of The Splice Newsroom. Covering the business of media transformation in Asia. Follow Alan Soon on Twitter.

From this week

Platforms

Columbia Journalism Review takes a hard look at the journalism funding done by Facebook and Google.

There are millions of dollars going into this space. While many are happy to take the money on the table, others question the ethics behind it. “The British Empire wanted trains in Kenya and India to run well, too. So their concerns are sincere, but the effect is more often than not a deeper immersion in and dependence on these platforms.” Of course this isn’t an issue unique to the tech giants — grant-giving NGOs have also faced similar critics.
Columbia Journalism Review

Governments & policy

Tools

Trends

New Naratif put together a solid story on how the Muslim Cyber Army works in Indonesia.

If you haven’t heard of the MCA (no, not that MCA in Malaysia!), they have been spreading fake news and driving hate speech along religious and ethnic lines. Worrying trend, especially in a country that’s been fighting fake news factories like Saracen. What makes this one different? “MCA looks more ideological, has thousands of networks in different parts of Indonesia and therefore the destructive power of this group is greater than that of Saracen.”
New Naratif

Transformations

The New York Times is partnering with FX and Hulu on a weekly documentary series called…The Weekly.

It centres around stories from the Times and the journalists that work them. This comes hot on the heels of The Daily, their incredible podcast about one daily story from the Times newsroom. This is part of the Times’ ongoing foray into entertainment: A New York Times Magazine feature is going to be a Netflix documentary series, and Brad Pitt bought the movie rights to the story of how the Times broke the Harvey Weinstein story. Also coming: a four-part series for Showtime about the Times newsroom during the first year of the Trump administration.
New York Times

Media startups

Talent

Design

SilverKris, Singapore Airlines’ in-flight magazine, nailed it with their recent redesign by Ink.

I usually have the same attitude to in-flight magazines as I do to, say, a swift slap across the face: I’d really just rather not, thanks. But this reworked version was good enough for me to forget my Economy Class kneelessness, even though the cover is easily the most forgettable part of the whole redesign: a crowded image with no focal point. But here’s why I love this redesign: 1. The layout and typography have integrity in that they are led by the content. 2. The section fronts have bold, opinionated design. 3. The reading experience is immaculate — even though they crowd little surprise nuggets in the gutter. 4. The illustrations by Stuart Patience are delicious. 5. The writing isn’t all travel-fluff and doesn’t suck. 6. Those are some mad infographics skillz. Here's an interview with the Ink creative director.
The Design Air

The Malay Mail did a website redesign.

Load times were a priority, and the new site scores well on that front. The digital team also prioritised monetizing content and enhancing their “programmatic setup”. For me, this is translating into lots of badly-placed ads for pointless leather accessories in duplicate and Outbrain-forward sewage. They are testing a new section with Mandarin content for Malaysians working in Singapore, which says good things about their user research. Structurally, the website is fine, although better hierarchy on the home and story pages would be a good idea. (Also, those Open Sans headlines need some kerning; they’re w a y t o o l o o s e.) I’m impressed with how their head of digital responded to a question about the cost of the revamp: he said the company saw it as an investment rather than an expense. Respect.
Marketing Interactive

The article page is arguably the most vital page for a news website.

Getting it right across platforms is the Holy Grail. Last week, The New York Times took a giant step towards getting it right. This involved streamlining internal efficiencies on their CMS as well as a better user experience across mobile and desktop on web and native apps. Advertising also got a major overhaul: they killed their cluttered right rail of smaller banner ads for larger, full-width, midstream ads for a much cleaner read—and it’s working: “Ads on the new page are achieving twice the click-through rate of our old design, and initial studies show higher brand recall and four-times the reader attention to ads.” Read about the process here.
New York Times

“Hi, so did you hear that crazy phone call that, umm, the Google Duplex robot assistant made to the hair salon?”

She had the whole uptalk (ending verbal statements with that millennialesque question mark subconsciously designed to maximise responsiveness) thing going on? as well as an “mmm-hmmm?” and even an “er”? It wasn’t just how real it was that blew my mind; it was that the person on the other end of the phone was able to have a complete conversation without suspecting anything. I think the tech is amazing; I think the the whole construct is creepy. Would Turing give the bot full marks? Hear it for yourself.
The Guardian

Google’s Duplex bot will now identify itself as a robot on the phone.

There were some serious concerns that Google was putting the ‘dupe’ in Duplex: “Silicon Valley is ethically lost, rudderless and has not learned a thing”. The company has clarified: “It’s important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that.” What is it going to say, though: “Hey there, I’m Rishad’s bot assistant, so don’t be freaked out.”?
Twitter

Notables