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A newsletter community is an online newsletter set up on LiveJournal or other journal platform. The format is of one large post per issue that aggregates links to other posts on Livejournal et al, put together by either one editor or a whole team.
Newsletter communities are an attempt to centralise and archive content on LiveJournal by topic, instead of by person.
History on LiveJournal
The Due South Reporter, created in July 2002 by Speranza, was the precursor to modern LiveJournal newsletters. It was a mix of noticeboard and newsletter formats: it had separate entries for each item like a noticeboard, but had a set group of editors who added the links (rather than allowing individual fans to add their own).
The idea spread quickly. The Daily Snitch (HP) and The Sunnydale Herald (Buffyverse) followed in May of that year. Four Lobsters (LotRiPS) began in June and In Babylon (QAF) and 3 Hours Missing (Without a Trace) in August of 2004.
Nowadays, a newsletter is one of the first communities to be founded by emerging fandoms, sometimes even before the source text officially premieres as is evidenced by the creation of Chuck News in Chuck fandom. The community was founded in July 2007, two months before the show, Chuck, was supposed to premiere on 24 September 2007 and only a day after it was screened at Comic-Con on 27 July 2007.
Other milestones in the development of newsletters include the integration of delicious.com. metafandom was one of the first newsletters to use delicious to automatically generate pre-formatted newsletter issues.
Common Newsletter Practices
Fannish newsletters are set up as a community on livejournal or similar journalling sites, which fans can then "friend" in order to see the newsletter when it is updated. Fannish newsletters may be posted daily, weekly or whenever a certain set amount of links have been gathered.
Fanworks are usually listed with their author and title. Newsletters with a broad scope may sort fanworks into categories according to pairing or fanwork type. Newsletters that prefer to give more information along with their links, such as pairing or rating, may choose not to link stories that do not include this information in a header.
Most fannish newsletters have official guidelines, set by their editors, that dictate what will and will not be included in the scope of the newsletter. Some types of fanworks that are often linked in newsletters include fanfic, fanart, vids, meta, picspam, and episode reaction posts. Some newsletters also may link non-fannish works, such as news articles, official announcements, or blog posts from TPTB, actors or RPF personalities.
While many newsletters are broad in scope, others restrict themselves to only certain types of fanworks, such as fiction or fanart-only newsletters, or metafandom, which only links meta. Some newsletters will only link to items on the journalling site they are located at, e.g. a newsletter on LJ may only link to content there, others link to content across all journal platforms and some also cover content everywhere, i.e. also items posted to blogs or archives or other websites.
Larger, busier fandoms, or fandoms that are large in scope, like Harry Potter, often feature newsletters with a narrower focus. Such newsletters may focus on individual characters, pairings, genres or smaller sub-fandoms within the larger fandom. An example would be titans_together, for the Teen Titans sub-fandom within the DC Universe.)
Because of the scope of some newsletters, editors may employ the uses of "watch", or "watcher", journal to help editors find appropriate links. A new journal is usually created and then used to friend and watch relevant communities for links, hence, the name watch or watcher journal. These journals may also be used for various administrative things, such as the posting of newsletter issues and moderator announcements.
Inclusive vs. Exclusive
Some newsletters link any and all content related to their fannish source; others have quality guidelines or link only fiction that meets a certain standard decided upon by the editors. These are occasionally called a recsletter instead of a newsletter.
Even inclusive newsletters can encounter controversy, since a newsletter's guidelines are usually decided upon by a single person or a small group, and not the fandom as a whole. Controversy can arise if a newsletter decides to link (or not link) controversial types of fiction, such as incest or RPF.
The usual response to criticism of fannish newsletters is that there is nothing stopping critics from creating their own newsletter.