The way we make decisions is really messy. But understanding why humans decide to do things is one of the great drivers of the current big data movement, so there are a bunch of algorithms trying to solve this puzzle for the benefit of $ociety.
Ida Wyman, Newsboy with Checked Shirt, Los Angeles, 1950.
Twenty years ago, Neil Postman and Steve Powers wrote a book called How to Watch TV News that was assigned summer reading for my 11th grade economics/politics class. Ms. Beaver was one of the most important teachers I had, 50% of it stemming from the fact that she made us read this book and call bullshit on mainstream news.
I am really late to this, but The Atlantic has been posting peoples’ media diets for a while now. My favorites are the people I’m most familiar with: Tyler Cowen, Anna Holmes, Terry Gross, Gary Shteyngart.
I’m always interested in what people read and how they read it (which is probably evident by the Friday Links), so I thought it might be fun to share what/how we read stuff in the comments. What really interests me about the media diet series is how may people use Twitter as a primary news source, how many still are adamant about reading paper versions of newspapers, and how many read New York-centric media.
I wake up around 6:30 and turn on Twitter in Tweetdeck as I eat breakfast. I get the majority of my US breaking news from Twitter, but not this early. Usually around this time, only Israeli and some European/Russian tweeps are up and at work, so I’ll catch some stuff from Israel. I follow a lot of journalists, a lot of economists, and a lot of regular people who are really funny and interesting and sarcastic. I try to be like them. Then, I flip to my Google News, which is customized with “Israel”, “Russia, ” “Central Asia,” “Economics,” and “Global Trade” sections. I’ll skim that for major headlines or trends. Sometimes, I’ll flip to Google News Russia and Israel and read in Hebrew/Russian. But only if I’m feeling unstoppable.
When I get to work, I’ll open my Google Reader, which I think is my primary source for non-breaking, more in-depth stories, especially esoteric news from Central Asia, Israel, home design, and the world of writers. I spent a long time getting Reader to an efficient way for me to get my news, and that sucker is slick as hell now. My main go-to reads, according to my Reader Statistics are: YNet (usually I’ll read in English but if I’m feeling super-cocky I’ll open the Hebrew version), Apartment Therapy, ShortFormBlog, FastCompany, TheRumpus, and The Hairpin. I also love The Tablet for Jewish-American centric news. I also catch up with blogs at this point so I can read humor writers who are much more talented than me. I’m really interested in people who write humor well and those who describe ordinary life well, as well as people living abroad. Not to mention the Blog Bloc!
Then, I read news from Philly that might impact me locally at the dismal Philly.com and news from my industry, IT consulting. Usually that includes CIO.com and other similar industry mags.
At lunch, I’ll go through Twitter to see what I missed. Usually that includes a lot of content from NYTimes, The Atlantic, and Russia/Eurasia news. Since I stopped reading Jezebel, NYMag.com is now my go-to lunch destination, but I feel like I’m still missing something, and it makes me sad. I stopped reading most feminist blogs entirely because they made me angry and ragey. I now only read Curvy Girl Guide.
Halfway through the day, my mom will usually send me what I like to call Angry Israel links from Russian-language Jewish news sources. I will tell her to start reading normal news sources, she will disown me, and this cycle will continue until I tell her we’ll talk on Skype later. Sometimes, people send me links I might be interested in via email. Then, sometimes, we have email conversations about those links. Those are the best.
After work, I try to stop reading news and usually just end up watching something on my computer on Netflix. I hate watching shows at a scheduled time because I feel like the networks think I’m a moron. I am working really hard on being away from screens after work and hopefully once we get into home stuff/summer biking weather/5k season, I’ll be able to achieve it. Once in a while, I’ll go on Reddit, where the most interesting subreddits for me are TwoXChromosomes and fitness. Never go on the Israel Reddit. Ever.
I am working hard again to start reading paper instead of the computer before bed so I can be relaxed, but the last books I read, The Hunger Games, were on my Kindle for Mac. Next book I’m buying will be in paper, mark my words. I try to read at least two books a month, but with the move and going marginally crazy, that hasn’t happened. Although I do have three books waiting for me when life is semi-back to normal.
On the weekends, I’ll go to Barnes and Noble to “browse.” I usually leave with something, mostly magazines. Magazines I like to read in print include Snob (it’s in Russian and at the same reading comprehension level as The Economist so it takes me a really long time to get through it, but so worth it), The Economist, Monocle, Foreign Policy, and The Nest. Also sometimes Rachael Ray Everyday. But don’t tell anyone. If I feel like I need to impress someone, I’ll pick up Foreign Affairs or the Harvard Business Review. If no one’s watching and Mr. B’s not with me, I’ll get Glamour.
I just read this back to myself and realize how much information I consume every day. This includes mostly everything, but is not all-encompassing. Also, this makes me seem like a huge asshole with lots of free time. But maybe it’s normal? You tell me.
Dear Blog Readers,
I love you. You are the rain to my desert. I love you so much that I want you to get as much enjoyment as possible out of my blog. And since D.C. provides low concentrations of my primary satire material-that is, Russian Jews (and really, there’s only so much I can mock Mr. B since he still peels my oranges for me,) we are moving (back) to Philadelphia.
For Friday Links, for my posts on Jewlicious, and for my posts on Walrus, I read dozens of news stories and blogs per day to stay current in the international news sphere, the Russiasphere, and the Jewesphere. This is why I am able to bring you pictures of ugly Obama rugs from Afghanistan. Also, obviously, I have Nutella on Google Alerts.
Anna Tarkov, fellow ex-Soviet Jew, but more importantly astute journalist, has profiled me in a cool series she’s doing about news consumers and what news media need to do to catch up to them and become profitable again. From the post, here are my top complaints about the media:
My general complaints are that the print/tv news media treats the Internet as some disgusting thing under a microscope that it has to handle with kid gloves all while not knowing anything about it (see any mainstream report on Twitter, tumblr, etc, which are always way behind the curve). It’s painful, like watching a baby deer trying to walk for the first time.
For online media, my complaint is that often the writers don’t understand the topics they’re covering. Best recent example of this is this post (or “news item”) because they’re on such short deadlines that they don’t stop to examine and analyze why what they’re writing about is important to the news consumer. You could be writing about a new toaster that cures cancer for all I care. Please put some context behind what you write.
My overall complaint for both print AND online is the bias. Oh, God, the bias. As a writer, I realize it’s impossible to write without bias. But if I have to read CNN AND BBC AND a local paper while referring to this handout to find out what the problem is with the oil spill, you’re doing it wrong.