NOTE: For a digital media literacy class I’m teaching, I’ve asked students to do this assignment: Write a blog post of 300-500 words about the media you follow every day. By “follow” I mean, for example, what you read / listen to / watch in email, Twitter, Facebook, YikYak, Instagram, news websites/apps, and the like. Which of these are “news” in the traditional sense? Do you read news articles mostly from recommendations, or do you have some homepages you visit routinely?
Here’s my stab at it–a bit longer than what I assigned, but I didn’t have enough time to make this short. I promised to post by the end of the day today, and will add links later.
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, Guardian 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, Slashdot, All Things Digital, BoingBoing, Talking Points Memo, Ars Technica, National Review, Wall Street Journal, TechDirt, Jon Stewart, John 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 This.cm, 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. 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.