CN#7. Semafor Flagship: Reinventing global news coverage

STATUS: Consumer, weekday daily, free


PURPOSE: “Understand the most important news and ideas shaping the world every weekday morning in your inbox.” Target audience is "premium general interest and cross border thinkers”.

LAUNCHED: October 2022

SUBSCRIBERS: Not disclosed.


SENT FROM: Semafor Flagship <> A corporate email address (reader connection opportunity missed).


“Lula’s big, narrow victory.” The news story selected for top billing, the victory of the challenger in Brazil’s election.


Yellow! An emulation of the Financial Times pale pink approach, the pale yellow background is certainly different. A Times-like serif font gives a traditional look and feel, although combined with the yellow, verges on antique.

On mobile, the text comes up big and clear in portrait mode, reminding us how other newsletters are set so small. This really matters for the user experience. Pinching, tweaking and twisting in order to read negatively affects engagement.


There are three token weather symbols showing that it’s either sunny or cloudy in the 3 locations where the top news is from.

There’s a to the point welcome summary from editor Tom Chivers who appears in a grey picture. Not quite as zippy or personable as a Morning Brew or 6AM City intro, instead going with gravitas for global news. That’s fine, it sets a serious tone.


There’s a world map with numbers placed in the news locations. Each number refers to one of the regular 10 news stories in the newsletter.

The 10 headlines are then handily listed below the map, with 2 additional, bonus items.

Each of the 10 news items gets 150ish words in 1 or sometimes 2 paragraphs of quite densely formatted text, with little or no white space. Every item is ruled off in a lined box, with a headline and a picture. The only concession to “ungreying” is the first line in bold.

The additional items are lighter afterthoughts. One comprises a single paragraph review for each of 3 London-based Substack newsletters featured, with links to the long read in each, and another is a frivolous piece about Halloween with a link.

Sources are rarely named (just a couple in 10 stories), and usually each story has just one link. The links follow a pretty random pattern, but the tendency is for them to be applied in the middle or bottom of the piece and to relate to a single word or phrase.

The reader doesn’t always know which websites have been used to create the summaries apart from the ones that there are mentions of links to: El Pais,, AP News, The Korea Times, Propublica, Financial Times (paywall), Nikkei Asia and the 3 individual Substack newsletters.


Semafor Flagship is one of eight free newsletters offered from launch in October 2022. The business looks like a "newsletter-first" operation but this isn't stated anywhere by management. Semafor is backed with $25m in venture capital funding and has benefited from much pre-launch chat in media circles.

This post is for paying subscribers only

Already have an account? Sign in.

Subscribe to Champion Newsletters

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.