Photographer: Oscar Yoosefinejad; Dress by Catherine Quin

This Much I Know

If there is one Instagram feed you need to follow this year, it’s This Much I know.  Set up by our former Vogue colleague, Emily Sheffield, a longtime journalist (she currently writes a column for The Evening Standard and is a commentator for Sky News), who spotted a gap in the news provider market.   If you’ve ever felt guilty at the time spent scrolling through your Insta feed, This Much I Know will help you keep you up to date on important news, providing a daily briefing with 5 top need-to-know stories by 9am, plus special reports, deep dives, culture and news quizzes. Here Emily tells us more about the feed and why she set it up.

What did you do before you set up TMIK?

Before TMIK, I was the Deputy Editor and Digital Director of British Vogue, plus Acting Editor in Chief. I have twenty five years journalistic experience and began my career at The Guardian aged 22 as a columnist and Features Assistant.

Why did you set it up?

I set TMIK up because of my own frustrations with main stream media. I felt many big brands just didn’t speak to me anymore; they lacked the dynamism we were seeing elsewhere on social media. They (ie mainstream media) weren’t talking enough about topics I care and others care about – the environment etc and they talked down to millennials, writing them off as snowflakes. Plus the main stream brands felt overwhelmingly middle-aged and white, with nearly all media companies still edited and overseen by men, with women in a secondary position.

I also felt that the way some of the great conversations I was seeing happening on Instagram, at fashion sites like Man Repeller, were pulling their followers into a community and they were really compelling.  I imagined applying that to news.

Also, we lost the Brexit Vote and I think that was partly because Remainers did not manage to reach young Millennials and that the older Brexit dominated news outlets like the Daily Mail won the day because their middle-aged audience was effectively messaged.

At the moment it is only on Instagram, what are you hoping to do next?

We want to build an audience on Instagram, it also means I don’t have to raise so much money in the beginning but we are looking to move to an App in the future, which reflects some of what live reporting Stories on Instagram can achieve, plus lots of live talks and debates. But the goals move so fast, we don’t want to promise exactly what we will be doing in three years because we want to remain nimble. Even tomorrow, a new invention for telling stories may sweep everything aside. With all media, the challenge is persuading people you are worth paying for, as media needs money for good journalism and advertising is not a safe model for news companies anymore. Journalists need paying. It is vital for society.

How can readers get in involved with TMIK?

Readers can get involved by following us on Instagram @thismuchiknowglobal and as an organisation we consistently ask your opinion, for feedback and for what stories you want more information on. Many of our followers put me in touch with people who help us, they are extremely engaged and I hope that is because we are not talking down to our readers but saying this is a conversation – our approach is more humble; hence the title, This Much I Know. None of us are all-knowing. We can only try and sift through facts and form opinion on knowledge and experience. And the more voices in that conversation, the better!

Which websites do you look at everyday?

I don’t look at many websites, except if Twitter or a newsletter takes me there. I largely look at Apps I have on my phone and I am signed up to many emails, from media organisations around the world, from the Atlantic, to CNN, to Skimm, Business of Fashion and Al Jazeera.

Which Instagram accounts do you like?

@ManRepeller; @PaperMagazine; @Politico; @TheEconomist; @JessicaYellin (former CNN Chief White House Correspondent); Also @Betches because it’s so funny; @JulieAdenuga (amazing Apple Music presenter on Beats Radio; @GalDemzine and @ABCNews…. I’m also on twitter a lot but it can be a very aggressive place and I have increasingly noticed how many Bots are operating on my feed.

What were the last 3 favourite books that you read?

I am reading now and have read Joan Dideon’s South and West, stories from her early journalism, Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for a 21st Century because it’s important to think about the bigger picture (though I think he is a little negative) and Haruki Murakami’s new book, Killing Commendatore, which I bought in hard back (from my local book store) as the cover design is so beautiful and I have always treasured beautiful hardback books as works of art.

Why do you think it’s so important that TMIK involves women talking to women?

The site is not aimed at just women but it is aimed at having global conversations and activating female voices around the globe. I think we often fall into spirals of our own lives because that is what is reflected in the media all around us. There are huge changes here in the UK benefitting women and I do sometimes think that activists for change spin too hard on details here in the West, ignoring the VAST challenges women are still facing around the globe. And it is turning women and men off the feminist message – we need to activate more voices globally and try and help make changes around the world too. Then people remember the fight is far from over for equality. Only recently, Dr Denis Mugwege received a Nobel prize for his work helping women who have been brutally raped in war, as rape is still used as a weapon in wars all around the world. He lamented only recently that the world media and world leaders did so little to help. And if we think how much news was given to Weinstein. It deserved attention and change but there are also many other horrendous attacks on women around the world and it is our job in the media to keep those stories in the news to help force change.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Raising the funding for TMIK so I can start employing the many great voices I know out there to start changing the way we tell the news, share the news and activate meaningful conversation and change.

— Francesca
9th January 2019