How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring 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 Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker's Washington correspondent.
The first thing I read when I wake up is email and Twitter -- and basically my emails are all junk mail from the campaign, so it's like delete, delete, delete. Since I've been using Twitter, I do rely on it for before I open the newspapers, before I even turn on my computer. It's very interesting to see who's awake at 6, 7, 8 a.m. There are different waves of people. There are people who are 6 a.m. tweeters -- people with kids. After I sift through that, the first thing I do is read the print version of The Washington Post.
I don't watch any cable TV at all, unless it's debates. I don't watch the weekend shows at all, and I don't watch cable during the day. If something dramatic happens on one of those shows you'll sort of know about it, you know? During the Republican primaries, I have started to dip into Fox News on primetime. One of the best ways to cover the campaign is to watch Fox News' prime time lineup. For one, the candidates are constantly on there. And two, you can see where things are moving by watching what Sarah Palin and Karl Rove and some of the other folks on there are saying.
I no longer do what I did years ago, and for many, many years, which was read three papers from cover to cover, and that was basically it. I subscribe to The New Republic, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Week -- sometimes I read it, sometimes I don't, it's sort of hit or miss. I still get Time and Newsweek and The Economist. Newsweek is a very underrated magazine.
You can't not be on the Playbook email list. That's like asking if you get AOL CDs sent to your home. Playbook is omnipresent. The dirty little secret of Politico is that Playbook is facing very stiff competition from Morning Score. Please don't tell Mike Allen, but Morning Score is pretty damn good -- a really, really good summary and link to every political piece you probably need to read that day.
I try not to get sucked into the kitten content on BuzzFeed or the T&A content on the Huffington Post. It's a wise strategy that can guide your internet surfing. If not, we would all just be drooling unshowered messes. At BuzzFeed, there's that one guy there who seems not to be a real person -- Andrew Kaczynski. He just churns out nuggets of research again and again that seem like it took a lot of work to uncover. The problem with that pure "oh check this out" content generation is it can just all seem like a stream of out-of-context nuggets. But Ben Smith is one of the smartest journalists and one of the most gifted writers around. I'm sort of excited to see where it goes.
The interesting thing this campaign there's always the long-established people, a lot of people who have well-deserved reputations. All the familiar names you probably know. But each cycle there's a new generation of new people who come up and sort of make a big splash, especially during the campaign. And the new youngish people that I like are Marin Cogan, Elle Reeve at The Atlantic Wire, longtime favorite, I got her started. [Ed. note: some lols were deleted] Ashley Parker, Molly Ball -- she's fantastic. Molly Redden, Maeve Reston, Alex Wagner, Maggie Haberman, she's been a writer for much longer but she's someone whose byline I see and I know there'll be good reporting and smart analysis. I like a lot of the staff that both Josh Marshall and Ezra Klein have built in their respective empires. The two conservative writers I like this cycle are Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard, and, at the National Review, Robert Costa.
My reading habits are bifurcated into these two extremes: I read a lot of really, really short stuff -- a lot of sort of superficial reading that’s generated largely by people I trust on Twitter -- and then the complete opposite, like no phone, no computer, just solitude and a long-form magazine piece or book. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine. The thing that I don't read as much anymore -- and this could be a huge blind spot -- is a lot of good medium-length stuff. That’s maybe a piece in the newspaper, a report from the campaign trail that's not exactly groundbreaking but a good rundown on what happened. Everything's bifurcated into super short and super long.
I think a lot of news organizations are realizing that, too. Even Politico has made noises about how they've realized longer, high-impact journalism may be a little bit more of the future, and they've got to enter that space a little more. That means blogs are slightly less relevant because a lot of the space the blogs filled previously is getting filled up by Twitter.
It's not like four years ago. There are things I don't read that I used to. Things like the Drudge Report -- I'd go there at least once a day, now I almost never check that. If something's important on Drudge, it'll probably bubble up on Twitter. All the blogs we used to read in the last campaign, I don't go to very much. I used to check at least once a day The Corner and Daily Kos, just as examples. I can't think of a time I've gone back to those in a really long time. The stuff that’s important you, I think, is going to get to you in some other way.
The people who I don't waste a lot of time on are the pure partisan hacks who don't even take a stab at intellectual honesty. This may sound completely ridiculous and biased, but I honestly think right now, the right is more around the bend and is worse than the left. In other moments in history, it hasn't been like that. But right now, the Republican Party is a much crazier party than the Democratic Party, and its hacks are a lot worse than the ones on the other side. We just happen to be living in a moment where, you know, there's some asymmetry on that score. Which is a tough thing because people don't really want to get into that because it somehow seems unfair or unbalanced.