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. This is drawn from a conversation with Tom Scocca the managing editor of Deadspin and author of Beijing Welcomes You.
My day begins by glancing at my phone for emails and scooping up the The New York Times front page to see what's happening and if there's any bad news to be considered. I'll find the weather page for my four year-old kid, because it's very important for him to stay on top of the weather. Then I'll head to the Business section--a likely place to have a story that's new to me (I tend to see most articles online the day before). I'll also try to read the newspaper comics by e-mail--the daily comics page has been a crucial part of my reading all my life.
The workday at Deadspin starts at home, and on my laptop I'll have a look at ESPN's homepage to see if there's big news that needs to be dealt with. I'll check the baseball scoreboards to see how the Baltimore Orioles fared and then go to Deadspin's tips email to see the particular news that readers want to make sure we know about that day.
Then the morning commute: for the twenty or so minute subway ride, I'll load up some reading on my phone, a Droid X. But my smartphone gets very insecure when a 3G connection isn't available and it tends to shut down its browser in frustration. So, thanks to the subway, I read books or magazines in print. Currently I'm reading Grendel by John Gardner and previously I read The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. Or The New Yorker will be brought along in my work bag for the ride.
At Gawker headquarters, while waiting for the espresso machine to warm up, I'll drift over and take a look at the front of the New York Post, and make sure I'm not missing anything there. When the office day starts, links start flying in on IM or email and coming in through the tips line.
On my desktop Mac, I abuse tabs in my browser: I just throw out a ton of them until I have to reboot or at least "force quit" everything. I do a lot of "force quitting." I also have IM windows open all the time. If people are reading something that gets on their nerves, they feel that I'm the person to share that with. That happens pretty regularly.
Twitter is my first line of screening, and I don't follow a huge number of people. A few are John Koblin, Mark Lotto, Mike Grynbaum, the Wizznutzz and Josh Levin. I'll also follow Dan Steinberg's feed for sports, Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran to see what's at Capital New York and check in on Joe MacLeod--an art director down at Baltimore City Paper who's a very uninhibited Twitter user and has fantastic editorial sensibilities. I'm pretty judicious with retweets, but I'll do it only if there's a really good story that some one else has promoted.
As far as the other social networks, I rarely look at Facebook because it's such a garbage heap. Sometimes, though, there's good stories to read that drift to the top of my feed. But I'm still hoping for the day that the Facebook killer comes along and kills the site.
When browsing online, I tend to read publications as publications rather than doing any of the streamlining stuff (RSS, personalized news services etc). To me, a definition of news is what's happening in other places to people aside from me. So I don't want a personalization service that's trying to cut the world down to what an algorithm thinks I expect it to be. That's where referrals from friends come in.
Aside from The Times, some of the other web destinations I habitually visit are Slate, Romenesko, Language Log, Alex Pareene at Salon and Choire Sicha at The Awl (and Choire and Alex's Tumblrs). I visit Jordan Ellenberg's blog, he's a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin--and my old college roommate--and writes about a wide range of topics. And, when I want to see the English language, party approved news from China, I'll go to the China Daily newspaper site.
When I head home, there's the book or magazine on the train ride. Then eating dinner and putting the kid to bed by reading a children's book. And another round of checking email or Twitter. If it's early enough that everything's done, I'll see what the Netflix Instant algorithms say I should watch. Lately they've come on really strong for the Rockford Files.