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New York Review of Blogs

A Late August Salute to Slow News Stories

It’s slow-going out there in the content mines, make sure to bring a canary.

(Nareeta Martin/Unsplash)

All good publications rely on something called “the Mix.” That means, as you can guess, a combination of hard-hitting investigative pieces, some shorter reported stories, and some fun little morsels that tie a few strings together, sometimes with a little zest and humor. During the dog days of late summer, however, the Mix begins to ooze together a bit—sources don’t return calls, editors hold off on big stories until September, and policy announcements get pushed. (We've been bombarded with out-of-office emails after our newsletter blasts out.) Reporters themselves go on idyllic canoe trips upstate. "The News," as it were, begins to slow down.

But even if the news slows down, the content must go on. Certainly, here at Hell Gate, we only publish the very best of these different types of stories, and never, ever, stretch opaque blog gruel into a kind of transparent content film (please read our newsletter tomorrow, a breaking story about my dog repeatedly eating my computer charger cables). 

In a spirit of generosity and empathy, and to commit fully to a blog ouroboros (late August blog about late August blogs), here are our current favorites.

Jeff Bezos Has Bravo Face

A true model for the form, an exercise in excellence. When the waters are shallow, when the well is dry, that’s where the dark art of blogging still lives. Jeff Bezos… yes? I’m listening. Has… He has a lot of things, but what specific thing are you talking about? Bravo Face. YES! More like, Bravo! face, which is the expression I’m making reading this headline. Curiosity gap personified! Scroll, scroll, scroll, read, read, read, another day of Internet churn complete, and are we any the wiser? Now I know what Bravo Face is, and more importantly, the website has been updated and has a new story on it. Gawker is Great.

The Last Place Left Online for Real Conversation

We still got the group chat piece kicking around? What do you mean we even commissioned art for it? Shit, it’s August, let ‘er rip. Again, a well-written and nuanced piece about the delights of group chats (part of a growing Times compendium on group chats), but oddly leaves out the other last place left where real, real conversations happen—unhinged Philadelphia 76ers Discord channels populated by 17-year-olds.

Unleash The Drink Takes! 

There is no summer drink this year. But wait, actually there is—it’s the Michelada. Oh no, scratch that, it’s apparently the “Dirty Shirley.” That feels kinda desperate, though—stop trying to make the “Dirty Shirley” happen. The drink of the summer is water. The drink of the summer is a low, continuous dose of drugs. The drink of the summer is a dish left below your air conditioner, mixed with a single olive. You, you beautiful person, are the tallest drink of summer. Our thirst knows no bounds. Gulp.

I bought an Amazon return pallet for $473 — here are the 215 surprises inside 

The Post has a small army of writers whose job it is to take things happening on social media (or on other news outlet's websites), and turn them into quick-turn stories (hey, at least they credit). While it’s always August for these writers, this is an especially dark look at the content churn—please, look at this influencer’s box of returns! “When I say I was enticed by this, I was very enticed,” said the influencer, in a post, now transcribed, on Anyways, it’s August, we’ll forgive. Now we just have to get to the bottom (or more probably, top) of why they keep covering this not-very-good golfer, Paige Spiranac

What Exploded? Oh, You Just Dropped Your Steel Water Bottle

Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff, WSJ. We’ve got a gif, an interactive chart, and some connected scientific research, all about how loud it is when you drop your metallic water bottle. Well-sourced and thoughtful, the stakes for this story are deep below ground, and we love it. Please, more stories about the dull thud of my Nalgene on subway platforms, the clank of keys when dropped on linoleum, and the time-stopping horror of a phone taking not one, not two, but three bounces. 

Ok, off to go actually “report” out a story. It’s not about the Finnish Prime Minister, although bless her for doing some late-August content work! Eteenpäin! 

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