How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? Do they have some secret? Perhaps. We are asking various people who seem well-informed to describe their media diets. Adam Moss, editor-in-chief of New York magazine, tells us about his recent conversion to Twitter and the challenges of publishing a world-class Web and print product.
The first thing I read is The New York Times in print, much of which I'll have already read online the night before. When I get to work, I'll read the tabloids, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and then hit the morning blogs: Andrew Sullivan, Talking Points Memo, Slate, sometimes Politico, Gawker, Jezebel and The Hairpin. I also read The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire, and I'm not just saying that. At the end of the day, there's something we do internally called New York in the News, which is just an aggregated review of where our magazine has been discussed in the media and on personal blogs.
Part of the problem that I, and all of the people you talk to, have is we actually have jobs. So we do all of this reading because we like it but also for opportunistic reasons. At some point, you can just be swallowed up by it and that's your daily minute-by-minute dilemma.
Twitter mostly gives me a headache. But it's funny: On Sunday night I became a convert. I was on a flight from Chicago to New York and before they let us off the plane, a jubilant voice came over the loudspeaker sounding like the Yankees had won the World Series. "Osama bin Laden is dead." Now I'm walking through the airport and I'm bombarded with bin Laden imagery from the various television screens in the airport terminal. Just little bits of information coming from CNN and MSNBC. Then I'm in a cab and the New York Times homepage is virtually useless on my phone: It has almost nothing about bin Laden. Then I go, "Hmm... Isn't this what Twitter's for?" So I start reading Twitter on my phone, which follows about 50 people that someone else at my office programmed for me. Some of the information was incorrect but it corrects itself and that's how it works. I became a Twitter convert.
There's a lot that doesn't edify me. I love tabloid and celebrity stuff as much as the next American. I'm sitting in the gym and there's a copy of Us Weekly and I love it. I love looking at design porn. A lot of what I read is not really profound; it's by nature ephemera. But a lot of what we publish is not profound either. Some of it is, I hope. What irritates me about the media is its sheer meta-ness: the constant self-referencing, the small little clique, the small-bore obsession with getting there two seconds before someone else and the sniping among media people talking about media. Some of [New York Times editor] Bill Keller's critique rings true. Bill is a brilliant guy and a great newspaper editor. His piece sounded a little defensive to me but its overall portrait of the climate was accurate. On the other hand, I'm a hypocrite. I love a scoop. I don't think you're a journalist if your heart doesn't race for news. But I love a real scoop not a two-minute scoop.
As anyone who works, like you do, in a print and Web singular environment, it takes a lot of pushing and shoving to get everyone to work ambidextrously. At New York, we've had steady progress but it's slow going. John Heilemann is expected to work on both the Web and the print side. Others are essentially web writers and that's where we're trying to get more intertwining. Gabriel Sherman is a great example of someone who just wants his stuff out and he will do it in print or the Web depending on the timing. He's a news guy so if he's got a scoop he wants to get it out. If we wait to run it in the magazine we run the risk of being scooped.
What I love about the media is the extent to which everybody can play. I'm a great believer in the power of individuals being able to get their message out. I loved that story about the guy who was unintentionally live-blogging the Osama attack. He was just talking about how weird it was with helicopters flying around his house. That's fantastic. I love the way in which information doesn't come from the likes of us media people.
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