MediaLIT: My Media Use

I’m asking folks taking our “MediaLIT: Overcoming Information Overload” MOOC course to describe their media use for a full day. In this post I’m combining several posts I did for my regular ASU course, as a demonstration of what I’m talking about. Note to MOOC folks: We don’t expect you to write something this long!

As a “consumer”:

My daily media consumption is enormous, because I do this for a living. Here’s what happened one recent day:

When I wake up I briefly check email and Twitter. If something seems super-urgent I may open an email or click through to a link. Usually I don’t.

At breakfast, using a tablet, I go to the homepages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Financial Times. All of those outlets have a world view, and I want to see what their editors–some of the best in journalism–believe is important. I also check my RSS newsreader, which collects stories and links from a variet of sources I’ve pre-selected.

At my home-office desk:

— I check out a number of websites including Reddit, BoingBoing, Ars Technica, National Review, TechDirt, Jon Oliver (when HBO posts his regular commentary), among others.

— I run Twitter and Google+ in separate browser tabs but don’t try to keep up with it all the time (though I confess I check them more often than I should.) Whether an important story or some ridiculous meme is bubbling up, I’ll be likely to notice it among the people I follow. I also check 5 Twitter lists I follow on these topics: journalism, the media business, technology, entrepreneurship and media literacy.

— Besides regular email, I subscribe to several mail lists on those topics, as well as a great daily list of five items from, a site that creates serendipity for me. I sort those separately in my email inbox, and read them one after the other. Many of the links have already shown up in Twitter, and many point to the traditional and other media sites I routinely scan.

During the day I’m constantly bouncing around to various media including videos (typically posted on YouTube and Vimeo), audio (NPR and others), and other websites.

After dinner I sometimes watch videos on our television, but almost never live TV. We subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime and satellite (Dish). I record some TV series (e.g. “Justified”) and watch when I have time, skipping through the commercials.

On my bedside table I have a hardcover book or two (one from the library and one I’ve bought, the latter almost always written by someone I know), and a Kindle Voyager e-reader. I read for a half hour or so before going to sleep.

Takeaways (similar to what I found when I did this several years ago):

I listen to or watch very little broadcast media apart from NPR (or super-important breaking news, very very rarely).

My main sources of trusted information resemble some of the ones from several decades ago, such as the New York Times (which, like all other media, I do not trust fully, since they do get things wrong from time to time). I get to them in some different ways, however.

In particular, several Twitter lists and Google+ circles (roughly the same thing; collections of people I follow about specific topics) have become filters of great value. I can generally depend on them to send me to information I need to know about. However, I know I’m missing some important things if I rely only on other people to flag things.

For me, media consumption is an evolving collection of people, sites, conversations, and entertainment. Much of it overlaps. It takes more effort on my part, but I believe I’m vastly better informed — and entertained.

As a creator:

I create a lot of media, too, though not nearly as much as I “consume” (I hate that word; as I’ve told students in digital media literacy, we should use media, not consume it).

On a given day, here’s roughly how I created media. I’m guessing it’s different from what students do these days. Most of what I create is text. Not all, but most.

In the morning, I answered a batch of email. I do this regularly during the day, because I get a lot and I try to keep up with it. I’ll never get to the fabled “inbox zero” but I’ll try. Occasionally I get and send several text messages, most often with my wife.

I post frequently on Twitter, and more occasionally on Google+. (I rarely use Facebook, for reasons I described in my book Mediactive.) 

Lately, I’ve been posting (too infrequently!) to, a wonderful new service that tries to collect–from a bunch of interesting users–just a few items per day that we all believe everyone should see. The site is in beta so I can’t invite all of you to join it, yet.

My blog doesn’t get enough love, though I do post there from time to time. On the day in question I wasted a lot of time responding to someone who was trying to convince me (actually, his own fans) that I’m wrong about net neutrality.

As a longtime photographer I take lots of pictures. I don’t post most of them, but when I do it’s usually to Flickr or Google+ or my blog. I need to do this more. I don’t have an Instagram account but probably should get one.

There’s a way I semi-create media that most of don’t appreciate: individualized media via online services. Example: I wanted driving directions the other day, and used Google Maps. It produced a page of directions and a map. This is media, too–but just for me.

My other media creation, on a regular basis, doesn’t get seen by anyone but me for some period of time: writing I’m doing for my columns and essays at Slate and Medium, as well as a new book. In a way, those are the most traditional forms of media I’ve been making.

There’s more, but you get the idea!

13 thoughts on “MediaLIT: My Media Use”

  1. This example is so unlike my daily life that I am already overwhelmed by the assignment of keeping track of my media use. I would have liked to seen an example of a person who is not in a media career.

    1. Please don’t feel overwhelmed — I certainly don’t expect everyone to be doing the stuff I do!

  2. Professor Gillmor,
    When I ready your “my media use”, to be honest, I felt like it was me, not you. But, there is one additional thing. My wife complains about it :-) I think she is right. She considers my media use or my media addiction as ‘the third thing’ in our marriage as if it was a third person. She is right.
    Time to time, I warn myself about my behavior about my media consumption or use.
    Meanwhile, I am also teaching media literacy course in Turkey. I try to observe my students as much as I can.
    It was year 2000, after observing my students for a long time, I realized that we were in a direction that our hourly, daily, weekly movements would be filled and manipulated by media.
    Afterwords, I thought that it was not only addiction for the content in media we were addicted to.
    I came up with a new concept. I guess, I was the first one in the world to use it and wrote about it (I checked the literature carefully). I called our and young generation as “screen generation”. Whatever we used, TVs, video games, internet, smart phones, tablets and even todays radio all have screens. I kept observing young people. It was a screen addiction besides content that they always wanted to hold those screens in their hands during their talk, walk, eat and more.
    Now, as you described your media use, we are in period of media addiction/use/consuming period. Reading your daily media diet realized me that I was a media obese.
    I really enjoyed your personal story.
    Best wishes.
    Nezih from Turkey

    1. My wife would probably agree…

      And I like your framing of “screen generation” as a way to describe many of us these days.

      1. I like the term “screenagers” when observing how our young seem to always be “connected”, sometimes I think to excess.

  3. I stopped watching local TV news around 10 years ago. Same with cable news in the last year or so. I don’t have any philosophical beefs with these sources. The noise to signal ratio is such that these no longer capture my attention. I’m finding that much past 60 you begin to be very thrifty with your attention. Having a 10GB mobile data plan has almost inverted my media consumption habits. Even down to listening to music in the car. Why would I waste time with 120 second broadcast commercial blocks when Spotify and services like Radio Paradise are on offer. The rest of my media diet seems dominated by RSS, Twitter, and (I am ashamed to admit)Facebook clickbait.

  4. Hi, Its wonderful to go through the above comments, it gives a holistic view of media usage by others.
    My media usage involves a lot of research since I write for a weekly magazine.

    My day typically starts with checking important mails followed by checking my whatsapp messages for any updates about my work or friends.
    I really thank my I-phone for App store featuring resourceful applications like Times of India, NDTV, CNN and others. I usually browse through these applications during breakfast or free time. Its like ‘news on the go’.
    On weekdays I carry The Khaleej Times newspaper with me while travelling, its the best travel partner. The journey to my office is about an hour, so I fairly get to know details about U.A.E
    I have to balance between both cultures, being an Indian and living in U.A.E. I try and update myself with the global arena, since I have been a journalism student and I have always been enthusiastic to learn about International Relations and Diplomacy.

    I am a features writer for a magazine at a publishing house. I explore Lifestyle, Fashion, Health and Beauty related topics. This involves research work and reading blogs and getting information online. I visit websites like,,, just to name a few almost everyday. I go through numerous websites and content each day. I read various blogs and try and get views about my topic from every possible source. I often visit media archives of my publishing house to get information about certain matters.

    I am not active on social media, but I do visit Twitter and Instagram to get celebrity, fashion and beauty updates to use for my write-ups or fun photo articles.

    In my free time I like to visit the Indian Express website, I have been a follower of this website for a long time, it has all the possible news and entertainment coverage globally.

    While my major time goes in writing and sorting fashion and beauty brands, I cannot help but have a news or lifestyle blog opened in another tab. Its always easy to just read up on a few things and get refreshed to start working again.

    After getting back home I spend time with my family and post dinner I watch television for about 30 minutes, my choices differ every day since my timing for television isn’t fixed. Talk shows, news debates, songs, entertainment channels and sometimes just browsing through the channels.

    On weekends I like reading magazines and learning from other writers about the writing style, the kind of vocabulary used, researching about a topic which interests me or browsing through the internet and get ideas for future topics.

    The news creation and consumption has differed for me over the years, I have always been a reader of serious news columns however now my interest has shifted to features and lifestyle articles.

    Warm Regards,
    Sonal Lunawat

  5. At age 68 and retired, my media behavior looks very traditional although I do access information and entertainment sources on line via laptop, notebook, streaming and smart phone. I am a “grazer” but I think MediLit will inspire me to be more systematic and thorough. One of my goals in participating in this course is to get a grip on Twitter and Facebook (I have had accounts at both, thanks to young family members, but have left both dormant—MediaLit is propelling me to really use these two).Through MediaLit , Week One, I have already discovered many new and more diverse information sources—both individuals and web sites. Some I am now following on my invigorated Twitter account….

    Here is my media day
    Total time about 3 hours about 40% print and the rest digital. On this day mostly on my laptop but some by phone and car radio

    My Safari browser opens to the National Public Radio (NPR) website I see it on my laptop and explore that first thing in the morning and also any time later that I am on line.

    Email prompts me to open up the New York Times so I scan that on my lap top and check breaking news throughout the day—often on my phone.

    I see the Wall Street Journal (print) first thing in the morning and look at the left column of news summaries which may lead me inside.

    My print local paper ( Raleigh News and Observer) did not arrive today and I did not seek it out on line but checked any breaking news alerts.

    I happened to have access to the Daily Tar Heel (UNC-CH Student Paper) and took time to read about Confederate statues on campus and the ongoing athletic scandals.

    I browsed my Neighborhood Newsletter on line which also linked me to a video on the local ABC news affiliate

    On the treadmill I read print Smithsonian Magazine and was surprised to find a piece about Ferguson, Mo.

    I am reading “Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson-hard copy

    My husband –also retired— serves as my clipping service highlighting articles that I ‘must read’ in the print WSJ, Sunday NYT –hard copy, and our local Raleigh News and Observer. And we share on line articles back and forth.
    He also provides news flashes throughout the day.

    Today’s News Flash was about the Mission to Pluto which will culminate a decade of travel and scientific anticipation on July14. He heard about this on Science Friday with Ira Flato on NPR and the excitement of the interview infected him as well. We were both surprised we had not noticed mention of this in our traditional news sources.

    Later while seeking something else I came across a mention of Pluto on the Smithsonian website.

    Many typical days I listen to podcasts from NPR and the BBC. I usually listen to these via my phone in the car and with earphones/phone while doing tasks around the house or garden
    Some favorites:
    Terry Gross Fresh Air Interviews

    Any BBC radio programs about books, authors, literature. These are fabulous
    The US has nothing comparable

    I oftten read books via Kindle for Mac on my notebook.

    We stream videos for entertainment from Netflix and are impressed with the quality of British and European productions


    I expect MediaLit will take me to lots of new territory.

    Sorry about dead links. I know how to get live links to Word or to email but not to this mechanism. Help!


    I also listen to NPR when I am in my car (WUNC).

    Email prompts me to open up the New York Times so scan that on my lap top and check breaking news throughout the day—often on my phone.

    I see the Wall Street Journal (print) first thing in the morning and look at the left column of news summaries which may lead me inside.

  6. Now I see the links worked! I would have included more. Also some random notes got out–did not do my homework of re-checking well enough..Paula

  7. my knee jerk reaction to the assignment only was “Hey, I’m down here helping my mom and between work, on vacation and they want me to take hourly notes? In your dreams.” Then, after looking at the example, I decided it would be a fun thing to do.
    I noted a void in sources that I had also noted in the interview with Brian Stelter, i.e., a great reliance on US-based media even though you and Brian Stelter spoke of the importance of world views. I happen to think that the New York Times in particular has a very biased world view – one that reflects the goals and values of its major financial backer. Given the importance of the Times, I feel its writers are forced to report in an irresponsible manner and its editorial page is even more irresponsible and out of touch with the world. That paper needs to be read critically as much as anything from FOX News.
    I highly recommend Al Jazeera America. John Siegenthaler is its main anchor and something tells me that you have known his family for a very long time! When AJA (Al Jazeera means “The Pennisula” and yes, I am aware that the owner is Qatar) started up in the US two Augusts ago, watching it was to me like having my lungs filled up with fresh air and I cheered for journalism.
    That said, I watch it critically also and check multiple sources on news I am particularly interested in.

    1. I’m glad you found the exercise interesting — and that you’re making your own decisions about what to trust.

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