Personal Message from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Plus, Behind the Scenes of “Kareem Reacts to the News”
Every five or six months I make a direct appeal to my tens of thousands of free subscribers to upgrade to paid subscriber. I greatly appreciate my free subscribers, but the reality is that this newsletter can exist only because of the paid subscribers. While I do all the writing, I have a small staff that helps me make sure we present the best possible newsletter twice a week. I wouldn’t ask you for something without giving something in return. So, as soon as you upgrade to paid subscriber, please enjoy my brief description of how I create each newsletter.
Behind the Scenes at “Kareem Reacts to the News”
When I’m assembling my Substack newsletter, the first thing I do is read. I read several newspapers a day (The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter). I also read news compilations from Apple News and Flipboard which gives me access to magazines from Time and Newsweek to Scientific American and National Geographic.
From those sources, I select the stories that I think are most important, entertaining, or interesting in terms of better understanding the intersection of politics, sports, and popular culture. Then I reread each article to make sure I have something fresh to bring to the conversation. Then I figure out exactly what my reaction is.
The first step after I form an opinion is to immediately reject that opinion as too biased. I have to assume any opinion quickly and easily formed is wrong. Especially if it seems like an obvious conclusion. So, after rejecting my initial opinion, I research opinions that disagree with mine. I look at their reasons, mull them over, then decide whether or not I agree with them. If I don’t, I start to examine my reasons for disagreeing. Then I research to find evidence that supports my opinion.
Then I write. The writing is even harder than the opinion-forming because I want to briefly explain the issue, convey my reaction with the passion I feel about it, and make sure I’ve been fair and logical. Passion should never be the convincing ingredient—reason should.
Then comes adding photos, proofreading, and lots of rewriting. I have a small staff that helps with the photos, proofreading, and research. I do all the writing and rewriting myself (so all factual errors are mine alone). Sometimes a news article will appear with additional information regarding a segment I’d written about and I will go back into the newsletter—even though it’s already been scheduled—and add that info. Or I’ll think about a line I wrote that bugged me and go back in to polish it minutes before it’s about to post. I’m never satisfied with the final product.
Interesting fact: I write every newsletter too long to be contained in an email. But, because I want it to be a length the reader can enjoy in an email, I have to cut some articles, or move them to the next newsletter. That is a painful process.
After the newsletter is posted, I read all the comments, which is my favorite part. Sometimes I respond, sometimes not, depending on how much time I have. I really want to encourage my Substack community to interact with each other. I’m always thrilled and impressed by how smart and respectful they are.
And the next day the process begins again.
Thank you for sharing your process and your finished product. You and Heather Cox Richardson are the first opinions I read every day to share your thoughts on what happened yesterday...and along with reading some of other information sources you mentioned, I process my opinion, too. Thanks for adding to my life in a meaningful way. Jody Seivert
I really enjoy reading your opinions. You are a sensible and measured voice that speaks from the heart. Thank you for doing all that you do to make the chaos of the news cycle not as scary and insane. It has been pretty crazy the past few years!