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 Emma Carmichael, formerly the managing editor of Gawker and Deadspin, who is taking over as editor of The Hairpin on Wednesday.
I am not a morning person. I'm a late riser and also a snoozer. So, I'm not that person who is up at 6 a.m. and knows The New York Times headlines at that hour. I'm usually up and working by 8:30, which has taken effort for me. I just need to make it earlier because I have those random days where I'm up early and it's like I've gotten so much done by 9 a.m.
But usually I am just in bed and I'll look at Twitter and my email on my phone. I'll respond to anything if I need to right away, but usually I don't. You know that feeling when you're on vacation and you're like oh my god I haven't checked my email in three days, the world must be falling apart and then you look and nothing has happened? That's how I feel every morning.
On the way into the office, I mostly do Instapaper stuff. I'll try to look at The New Yorker online and The New York Times Magazine and save the longform stuff that I really want to read. I just saw that Willa Paskin profiled Shonda Rhimes — that's number one on my list right now. I also have a bridge on my commute, which means I can look at Twitter. It's the ultimate compulsion, when can't even get through your entire commute without looking at Twitter.
Usually with Deadspin we go through the buzzy blog items first. Before I went over to Gawker pretty much my media consumption was sports. I wrote a lot about basketball and tennis, so I felt really plugged into that community online. I'd follow ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Grantland—which I kept following after—SB Nation is really great, and I'd follow all these littler sports blogs that were more tuned into their local beats.
Going over to Gawker I had to really expand what I was aware of every day. I started following the major newspapers more closely and I started using the AP wire more religiously. I also started being more aware of Gawker's competitors: BuzzFeed, New York magazine, The Daily Beast every now and then, you guys, obviously.
I don't know how it's going to change with The Hairpin. They keep telling me I can do whatever I want: What I'm interested in becomes what the site is interested in — it's kind of like this paralyzing freedom.
I feel like I have a loyalty to Gawker and Deadspin, obviously — I'll always check in on those guys. At Deadspin there's Barry Petchesky — Tommy Craggs [the site's editor] and I call him the last true blogger. He's the guy who can give you 50 words on a picture no one else has found, or 800 words on the issue of the moment. I'll also always read Tommy Craggs, when he manages to write something, which is a rarity at this point.
At Gawker, of course it's like Hamilton Nolan, Tom Scocca and Caity Weaver. I guess this won't change, but I check The Awl and The Hairpin every day — I'm always interested in what Choire Sicha is interested in a given day. I also like Maria Bustillos and Jim Behrle — Max Read [of Gawker] told me to tell you that he's my favorite blogger. I also check in on Grantland every day at this point. And, of course, The Atlantic Entertainment. And, I read you, Richard Lawson and Jen Doll, daily.
I don't really go to websites that regularly. I rely on Twitter to feed me the stuff that I want to read. I follow a mix of: a third sports Twitter, a third weird or annoying media types, and then a third is straight media organizations. I'll never be that person that's like "I just read this interesting article and you have to read it," but I really appreciate those people, because that's where I find most of the shit that I enjoy reading. I always know the Molly Lambert [of Grantland] piece of the day will come up, or Rembert Browne [of Grantland], or Charles Pierce [of Esquire].
In between that, on Twitter I like Max Read, Katie Notopoulos [of Buzzfeed], John Herrman [of Buzzfeed] — those kind of irreverant weirdos that are really plugged into what's going on during the day. I like the brand of Twitter that is really up on the news cycle, but also like "look at this weird GIF I just found." I think I probably depend on it more for that stuff because I'm not on Tumblr at all. I have an account but I dont know how to use it.
I'm not great at following the music scene online, but I try to keep up with it. There are music critics I like to make a point of reading: Nitsuh Abebe at New York magazine, Jon Caramanica at The New York Times and Carrie Battan at Pitchfork. Also, Frannie Kelley at NPR: I read her and I find myself nodding the whole time. And Julianne Shephard at Spin I really love, I think we get angry at all the same things.
More generally, I'll check in at Nah Right. It's a hip-hop site that has every new track immediately. Then, Pitchfork, Fader, and Dat Piff, which is a mixtape site. One or twice a week I'll download a new mixtape and try to listen to it. Ideally I would treat an album I'm really interested in the same way as a book I'm really interested in and spend two hours only consuming that. But because our jobs are such clusterfucks of media, it will just be in the background often. I also do Hot 97 — that's my jam. I love Angie Martinez and Miss Info and Funkmaster Flex. I listen to it sometimes during the day, but more often in my house and much more often in the car. It's like the perfect exit or entrance out of or into the city. One of the best exits I've had from the city was when Funkmaster Flex had the Kanye West and Jay-Z "Paris" debut and they just played it on repeat for like an hour. It's the greatest radio hour in the history of the world.
I don't do a ton of NPR — I wish I did — but I do like This American Life on long drives and when I'm cleaning and stuff. I have this habit where I'll listen to a bunch of them but I think Ira Glass has one of the most annoying voices in the universe, so there's always a breaking point with him.
In the evenings, I watch a lot of sports. Right now it's NBA playoffs so I'm trying to watch one game or a piece of a game each night. When I started at Deadspin, I used to try to follow along on Twitter and tweet witty shit, but I reached a point where I got home and didn't want to be on Twitter. So now I try to just watch the game and have a beer and zone out.
I watch a lot of TV — I'll do binges of older TV shows. I've watched most of Scandal, which is great, Mad Men, and I just watched Top of the Lake — there should be a support group for watching that show. Every now and then I'll watch trashy TV. I'll click by MTV and the new Real World is on and I have to watch an episode. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is another favorite.
On nights when I'm not out, I'll definitely be online. I can't really avoid it. But, I'll definitely make an effort to read something on paper, when I'm home. I've gotten really bad with fiction. I just started subscribing to The New Yorker in print, because I used to steal it from Gawker and I don't work there anymore. Right now that's the only thing I subscribe to in print. I'll never read the whole thing in any week. But I'll try to get two or three articles. Ariel Levy, Dexter Filkins and Kelefa Sanneh are my power trio, there.
I try to leave The New York Times for the weekend. I like having a Saturday afternoon where I can read the magazine cover story. I also have a longstanding tradition of hate-reading the Real Estate section and the Sunday Styles section, which I do on Sundays when I'm hungover. It's a really good life evaluation moment. Of course you can't afford that apartment, Emma.