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. This is drawn from a conversation with Charlie Gasparino, a senior correspondent for Fox Business Network and the author of Bought and Paid For: The Unholy Alliance Between Barack Obama and Wall Street, among other books.
When I wake up around 7 or 7:30, I'll go between NY1 and Imus in the background and start looking at the papers online. The Wall Street Journal, which I subscribe to online, is required reading and I've been doing that since college. The New York Post has a really good business section and, because they write concisely, I can get through it fast. Then I read The Times but I don't read it as closely as I read The Journal. I'm just skimming for stories because I like to know what the competition is doing. And then if I'm covering a story I'll put the keywords in Google. For example, I broke the story about Nasdaq looking to make a hostile bid for the New York Stock Exchange and I would put in "Nasdaq" and "Greifeld," Nasdaq's CEO. Then I'm reading a couple blogs, especially Dealbreaker because it's funny and it covers the right stories. All day, I'm going between the Journal, the Times, the New York Post, and Dealbreaker and following the stories I'm covering.
Every morning, I jog to the park and do pull-ups and push-ups and wind sprints. It's about an hour-and-a-half routine--six sets—and between sets I'm checking my email, making five-minute calls (I save the long interviews for when I get to the office), and looking at stories. You'd be surprised how much you can get done; by the time the workout's done I have my day planned. My day on TV starts around 11 and I'm usually on air until about 7. I do "hits"--I'll come on at least three times a day to do planned stories. If I'm doing a hit on Dobbs at 7:30, say, I'll have an hour and a half of downtime because the day's gone--the Wall Street guys hit the bars around 4:30 or 5--so I'll usually hit the gym and do a 30-40 minute pure weights workout at Fox. In the gym I have my BlackBerry on constantly.
I'm checking Twitter a lot now but I don't get news from it. I always promo my hits on Twitter ("catch me at 1:30 to talk about x, y, and z") and stories I've broken have been picked up from my Twitter page, but I see Twitter more as an alert for people about what I'm doing. I think people spend a little too much time on Twitter. What I try to do for stories is not just do them on TV but also write them up into straight news stories because it compounds the impact. The confluence of media is much more powerful. I learned that at CNBC.
I have about 3,000 friends on Facebook but I use it not for personal social networking--there's some of that, it bleeds into both--but as a professional tool for connecting with people who are into the stories I like and discussing things in a professional way. Every now and then I get a tip from there. One Wall Street guy once told me that if you go to the New York State Comptroller's office and type in your name you can find out if you're owed money by the state because apparently when you leave a job sometimes you don't get all your pay and it goes into a special account. And, lo and behold, I was owed money by the state so I applied to get a check. I later got a check for $10.
The problem with business blogs is that you have inexperienced kids writing about other people's stories and adding the wonderful wisdom that they have acquired over 25 years of life. What's great about Bess Levin at Dealbreaker is that she doesn't claim to be some brilliant that's going to give you amazing insights. She provides insight by satirizing stuff and she doesn't take herself too seriously. The best way to be smart is to pick up the phone once in awhile and make calls. The problem with journalism today is that so many kids go into blogging and then, when they have to do real reporting, they really can't do it.
At night, I watch O'Reilly. He gets good guests and he's provocative. I look at The Journal and The Times one last time before going to bed and, if I'm following a story, I put the keywords in. That's what's great about the Internet. When I was a kid, working at Newsday, The Journal, and The Bond Buyer, the Internet wasn't fully developed as a reporting tool and the competition was The Times. I used to go to The Times's headquarters on 43rd Street and get the first run as it came off the press at 10:30 at night. If I didn't get scooped it was the best feeling in the world--I'd go out to a bar. If I did get scooped, it would be a long ride home.
On the weekend, I watch Chris Wallace's show and I've actually been watching that religiously since Tony Snow was doing it. I also like Fox News Watch. The host is pretty sharp and they bounce really good topics around. I watch ESPN whenever I can take a break from the news. One of the great things about covering the financial crisis and business is that it's both real and insane--the people on Wall Street are the most insane people in the world--and shows that try to emulate Wall Street never do it justice. I couldn't believe that Oliver Stone, who made such a great Wall Street I, made such a horrible Wall Street II, full of clichés. I do watch Dexter. I know it's crazy, but there's a feeling of realism to it and the characters and actors are really good.
I get The Times on Sunday and my wife's in media so we get Adweek, but my reading is basically all online now, which is interesting for a guy who's so inept when it comes to technology. I barely pick up a newspaper unless I'm on the subway. I used to read a lot of Russian literature--I was into Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy and I took Russian literature in college--and there was a time when I read a lot of finance books. I forced myself to go through heavy-duty stuff about swaps and derivatives and repos, and then when the world blew up in 2007-2008 I knew why Bear Stearns had funding problems, because they funded themselves in the repo market, which is a short-term borrowing market. Now I read one book--sometimes fiction or biographies (David Maraniss's bio of Vince Lombardi, for example)--but I'm writing so much that I sometimes don't have the time to get through books, which is a shame.
The news cycle now is so jam-packed that you don't often have the time to sit back and take a deep breath. Part of that I like. Many reporters my age (let's just say I'm in my late 40s) want to step back and think big thoughts and work on big projects. They're sick of the daily grind. But the business is changing so much that I don't think you can do that anymore. You have to perform now, even when you think you've graduated from breaking news. I never wanted that cushy job. I always wanted to be in breaking news. My philosophy has been that the best big, long-term stories are the ones you develop by breaking news in between. In 2004, I left The Journal and went to Newsweek magazine, a place where they were saying I could sit back and write weekly and didn't have to kill myself. The first year was great but then the magazine began shrinking and was clearly imploding. That forced me to be creative, to do more TV and look at the web as a way of writing daily. And that's the business model now: Triangulate the medium with your story.