How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts and the literary world, to hear their answers to these questions. This is drawn from a conversation with Taegan Goddard, the founder and publisher of the website Political Wire.
After waking up sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 am, I'll grab my iPad off the bedside table. Then I'll spend five to ten minutes checking headlines from about a dozen RSS feeds to see if there's anything really important that happened overnight. This is just a cursory look at the day before I make coffee. (My day doesn't get into full-swing until I've made Blue Bottle coffee that I've had shipped from San Francisco.)
After coffee, I'll sit down at my desktop iMac and pull up my dashboard. It's set up like this: on the left hand side of the screen there's a Google Reader client called Reeder, on the right is a Twitter client, Twitter for the Mac, and in the center is a browser with tabs that stay open throughout the day. The beauty of the way I've got things set up is that I'm not chained to a desk, I can pretty much do what I do from anywhere in the world--I have various alerts also tied in via Twitter to my iPhone.
During the day I get emails from readers, reporters, pollsters and political strategists pointing me to news. And I also typically follow individual writers more than I do websites. A few of those people are Walter Shapiro, John Avlon, David Grann, Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith, Jonathan Martin, David Weigel, Steve Kornacki and Michael Scherer. I find Twitter to be a phenomenal tool in terms of newsgathering and, among others, I follow closely Chuck Todd, Jake Tapper, Rick Klein, Jonathan Karl, Karen Tumulty, Mike Allen, and Mark Knoller.
I don't normally look at the homepages of websites. In fact, there are only three homepages I check regularly: Bloomberg, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The blogs I think are absolutely invaluable to following politics are First Read, The Fix, War Room, and GOP 12. I also follow two sites to keep tabs on what's going on in the more partisan world: Daily Kos for the left and Hot Air on the right.
When I come across non-work related thought-pieces or articles I'd enjoy, I'll hit the "Read Later" button to save those to Instapaper. Those websites I visit outside of work are TechCrunch, Daring Fireball, All Things Digital, and then a lot of Red Sox blogs from The Boston Herald, The Boston Globe and ESPN. I just started reading Grantland too.
As for print, the only time I will read anything on paper is if I'm getting on an airplane. And it's only because of the half an hour or so when I'm not able to use an electronic device to read. On my iPad these days, I've been pretty dedicated to non-fiction books related to the financial crisis like Griftopia by Matt Taibbi and All the Devils Are Here by Joe Nocera. But those are read after the work day.
In a lot of ways, the day never ends for Political Wire. Even last night there was a story I was alerted to from a reader--it was a Wall Street Journal piece on a potential sex scandal in Congress--so I immediately went and tracked down the piece. What I try to do is figure out when I can end the day, because that's not always the easiest thing to do.
Typically, the number of items that arrive through my dashboard slow down by 6 or 7 pm. (Although later in the night sometimes I get a beep from an iPhone alert--generally annoying everyone in my family when that happens.) As my feeds begin to fade out, I get a feel of when the political day is over. Of course, things can then pop back up and then everything picks up once again.